The coronavirus pandemic has presented major challenges for the international coach sector over the last year. These challenges make it even more important for companies, drivers and passengers alike to have absolute confidence in their vehicles – such as, in this case, the new MAN Lion’s Coach. The “Coach of the Year 2020” has made a strong impression on customers all over Europe and further afield. MAN Truck & Bus only recently delivered 80 of the popular coaches to Saudi Arabia, a milestone for the company. This deal represents the biggest single contract from the kingdom yet for the new Lion’s Coach.
The coronavirus pandemic keeps the world holding its breath, and also poses major challenges for the coach sector. “2020 was certainly one of the most challenging years for all bus companies – whether they are suppliers, travel businesses, or manufacturers. That’s even more of a reason to be excited about individual success stories, such as the delivery of a total of 80 Lion’s Coach to a customer in Saudi Arabia,” says Rudi Kuchta, Head of Business Unit Bus at MAN Truck & Bus. He adds: “Alongside the current challenges in sales, we and the whole sector have the important job of restoring passengers’ confidence in bus travel. To achieve this, MAN is communicating closely with associations, customers and suppliers to provide sensible protective measures against coronavirus for drivers and passengers.”
Protective measures against the virus in the MAN Lion’s Coach
To support bus operators and travel businesses as much as possible and to protect passengers, bus drivers and couriers from becoming infected with the virus, MAN Truck & Bus quickly developed measures to ensure hygiene, and is continuing to develop these. Therefore, there is a protective wall for drivers, which can be retrofitted into the MAN Lion’s Coach. The pane, which reaches up to the ceiling, keeps the driver’s cab separate from the passenger area. Sanitiser dispensers can also be installed. High-performance ventilation systems ensure an effective air flow and therefore provide as much fresh air as possible, whether it’s summer or winter. This means that the air inside the bus is completely replaced with fresh air every two to four minutes. “In theory, we cannot entirely rule out the possibility of coronavirus infection due to the air-conditioning system. However, we estimate that the risk is very low,” explains Heinz Kiess, Head of Product Marketing Bus at MAN Truck & Bus, before adding: “To further improve safety on board, we are currently working flat out to integrate microparticle filters into our buses. From the second quarter of 2021, this additional protective measure should be available to our customers.”
Over 2,500 coaches sold in Europe
The MAN Lion’s Coach guarantees maximum safety for all passengers thanks to a range of features including innovative assistance systems, the torsion-proof skeleton with fire protection, and the bigger glass skylight, which makes it even easier to escape in case of emergency. Passengers and drivers are also guaranteed to reach their destinations as comfortably and reliably as possible. This is why more and more operators are choosing the MAN Lion’s Coach. It has proven a success story since its launch at Busworld in autumn 2017, with MAN Truck & Bus selling over 2,500 models in Europe. “That’s a great accomplishment and a perfect testament to the many years of commitment and hard work shown by the whole team. They have worked tirelessly in the bus division and across departments to develop an outstanding vehicle and successfully bring it to market,” says Rudi Kuchta. Over 500 MAN Lion’s Coach models have been sold in Germany alone over the last three years. As of January 2021, this makes Germany the top market, followed by Italy, France, Belgium and Spain.
“The MAN Lion’s Coach is the vehicle that has constantly impressed for a number of years thanks to its high reliability and low fuel consumption – and a clear champion when it comes to total cost of ownership,” says Kuchta before adding: “This is appreciated by customers and experts alike. As a result, the new Lion’s Coach has gained a significant market share in Europe since its launch and has already received a multitude of awards. That’s also good news for the 2,500+ coach drivers in Europe whose job the Lion’s Coach now makes easier day after day.”
The Lion’s Coach is popular with tour operators, bus companies, and sports teams all over Europe. For example, at the end of 2020, MAN delivered Romania’s top football team, FC Viitorul Constanța, a new team bus. From now on, the players, coaches and staff for the football club’s number one team will travel to matches in the state-of-the-art coach – in ultimate comfort. This is because the interior of the bus has been specially adapted to the wants and needs of the professional athletes. Last year, MAN Truck & Bus surprised German fifth-tier football club 1. FC Düren by presenting them with their own special team bus. The amateur footballers travelled to their DFB (German Football Association) cup match against FC Bayern Munich in their new Lion’s Coach, spectacularly painted in the club colours. “It was a great experience for the footballers, and for us as well,” says Rudi Kuchta.
Successful sales hauls in Saudi Arabia and Turkey
But the coach has also made a convincing impression outside Central Europe, with a successful sales record further afield underscoring the worldwide popularity of the vehicle. Last November, MAN delivered 80 Lion’s Coach to Saudi Arabia. “It’s a milestone for us. Because this is the largest single order made from Saudi Arabia. What’s more, it was already the second deal we made in the region that year,” says Kuchta. Earlier in 2020, MAN had provided a coach to Al-Salem – making it the first Lion’s Coach sold to a private customer in the Middle East.
And even during the difficult times of the coronavirus, we managed to deliver 25 of the state-of-the-art coaches to Turkey. Since last year they have been bringing travellers to their destinations in safety and in comfort. Kâmil Koç has put the MAN Lion’s Coach into service on the new “Aegean Route”, which connects Istanbul with Turkey’s Aegean region. The operator, part of the Germany-based FlixBus network, opted for the 13-metre, two-axle version of the coach to offer its passengers a special travel experience. The vehicle’s chic, black design is another distinctive aspect. “They’re definitely an eye-catcher and bound to attract attention,” Kuchta confidently adds. Nor does the ample range of interior fittings and equipment leave anything to be desired, ensuring a relaxed journey for travellers even in hot temperatures.
Alongside passengers, drivers and bus companies, editorial teams and magazines have also been impressed by the new MAN Lion’s Coach. International trade journalists from 22 countries selected the new MAN Lion’s Coach as “Coach of the Year 2020”. The jury were blown away by its coherent concept – combining cost-efficiency, comfort and reliability – as well as its distinctive MAN design. The Coach of the Year award, which has now been going for three decades, is regarded as the most important international prize in the coach market.