Buses from Mercedes-Benz and Setra – 25 years of successful bus manufacturing

20.
February 2020
Mannheim / Ulm
  • 1995 marked the start of a unique success story for Daimler Buses.
  • 25 years ago, EvoBus GmbH was established following a merger of the Mercedes-Benz and Setra bus brands.
  • Besides EvoBus GmbH, a number of bus manufacturing plants and national sales organizations around the world are part of the Daimler Buses business area.
  • "I'm of the firm belief that the events of 25 years ago have allowed us to write a good portion of industrial history in the field of bus building and in doing so, we've set ourselves up to continue this trend in the future. We have a clear vision: as a leading provider, we aim to provide our customers the world over with the best buses and mobility solutions," says Till Oberwörder, Head of Daimler Buses.
  • In developing locally emission-free drive systems and connected vehicles, Daimler Buses is contributing to making traffic in our cities and conurbations not only more efficient but also more environmentally friendly.
  • The Omniplus service brand delivers bus-specific service offerings, genuine replacement parts and innovative digital services from a single source.
  • Innovative spirit and the wealth of experience that the teams of both brands have are the key to the brand's successful development.

Mannheim / Ulm – 25 years ago, on February 23, 1995, the two European bus brands Mercedes-Benz and Setra created a strategic alliance. It marked the beginning of the successful bus business of Daimler Buses. Today, the company is represented far beyond the borders of Europe with its maintenance offering and advisory services, and is also known for the contribution it is making to creating efficient and sustainable mobility solutions.

"I'm of the firm belief that the events of 25 years ago have allowed us to write a good portion of industrial history in the field of bus building and in doing so, we've set ourselves up to continue this trend in the future. We have a clear vision: as a leading provider, we aim to provide our customers the world over with the best buses and mobility solutions," says Till Oberwörder, Head of Daimler Buses.

From bumpy beginnings to a bright future

The merger of the Mercedes-Benz Buses product area, then part of Mercedes-Benz AG, and the Setra bus brand of the former Karl Kässbohrer Fahrzeugwerke GmbH vehicle works was, however, anything but smooth. As Mercedes-Benz and Setra were both leaders in the bus sector, political and cartel-relevant hurdles had to be overcome. For fear of the fusion failing, the people of the Ulm/Neu-Ulm region protested peacefully on February 1, 1995 in a show of support for the merger. At the end of February, the time had come: The Mercedes star and the Kässbohrer "K" joined forces – and the EvoBus GmbH brand was born. The brand has 14 subsidiaries in countries like France, Spain, Italy and Belgium which are responsible for the European operations of Daimler Buses. Besides EvoBus GmbH, a number of bus manufacturing plants and relevant national sales organizations around the world also form part of the Daimler Buses business area.

"Today, we can say with certainty that we have amalgamated the best of both brand worlds. We have developed together and set ourselves up for a sustainable future. EvoBus GmbH is a major part of the international bus business of Daimler Buses. We are the market leader in our core markets of Europe, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico. With continuous improvements at our Mannheim and Neu-Ulm production locations, we are now the last remaining bus manufacturer to produce vehicles in Germany. And we're very proud of that and we're fully aware of the responsibility with which it comes," explains Till Oberwörder.

Innovative and technological leadership in tomorrow's mobility solutions  

The business area is keeping a close eye on the future requirements in the field of bus mobility: in developing locally emission-free drive systems and networked vehicles, Daimler Buses is contributing to making traffic in our cities and conurbations not only more efficient but also more environmentally friendly. The technological and innovative leadership role of the company isn't just underlined by the development of the fully-electric Mercedes-Benz eCitaro urban bus manufactured in series production at the Mannheim plant, but also by the fact that these vehicles are now already on the road all over Europe. With solutions tailored to local requirements, the products of the Mercedes-Benz, Setra and Bharat Benz brands, as well as the proximity of their sales and service network to the customers provided further opportunities for growth in emerging markets around the world. In order to create the basis for sustainable and profitable growth, the production network has been continuously developed over the past years.

Production network: a supporting pillar since 1995

Already at the time of EvoBus GmbH being established, it was part of the strategic aims to have all European production locations working in a highly flexible and efficient unison. A major initial milestone along the way to achieving this was the establishment of the production network between the Mannheim (Germany) and the Ligny-en-Barrois (France) and Ulm/Neu-Ulm (Germany) plants. Built for the provision of parts, Spain's Sámano plant was added to the EvoBus network in 1998 before being followed in 1999 by the Holýšov (Czech Republic) plant. This European network is supplemented by production locations in Latin America, India, Indonesia and South Africa. Further important components in the network are the minibus plant in Dortmund and the Hoşdere (near Istanbul, Turkey) location which is presently part of Mercedes-Benz Türk A.Ş.

Sales almost tripled in 25 years

In the early days, the Mercedes-Benz and Setra brands sold 5,700 vehicles annually and had a joint labor force of around 9,340. By the end of 2019, Daimler Buses employed around 17,960 people worldwide and turned over approximately 32,600 units (including complete buses and chassis).

The Omniplus service brand and used buses from BusStore

Already in 1996, one year after the fusion took place, the Omniplus service brand was created and given the responsibility for ensuring all after-sales activities of the two bus brands. The basis for Omniplus was formed by the already successful customer service offering of both brands. Today, Omniplus draws on a service network of more than 650 workshops in 42 countries around Europe and provides bus-specific services, genuine replacement parts, efficient training courses and a range of innovative digital services from a single source.

The fourth and youngest brand to join the family was BusStore in September 2013. BusStore comprises all activities concerning used buses. With its yearly turnover of around 2,000 buses, EvoBus has also now become the biggest provider of used buses across Europe. BusStore has a total of 24 locations. They are mostly located in the same places as the large Omniplus service outlets.

125 years of bus building: successful collaboration a long time ahead of the merger

On March 18, 1895 and thus 100 years before the fusion of the two brands took place, Carl Benz released the world's first motorized bus on the market – the Benz Patent-Motorwagen-Omnibus with a total of eight seats. For Karl Kässbohrer, whose coach-building business was just two years old at the time, the developments of the day formed the basis for his business idea: building luxury-class vehicles. 15 years later, the Karl Kässbohrer vehicle works supplied Daimler, among other things, with coaches and landaulet bodies. A close relationship between Mercedes-Benz and Kässbohrer over several decades before the merger took place formed the basis for the subsequent success story that was to result from the fusion. And the success isn't just founded on the great products of both brands but also on the vast ingenuity of the two partners. The Kässbohrer brand brought with it such innovations as the self-supporting body design, the so-called "selbsttragende Bauweise" from which Setra draws its name. Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz buses benefited from access to groundbreaking technologies from Daimler's research department. Up to the present day, the innovative spirit and the great experience of the teams at both brands continue to have a truly positive effect on the further development of the business.

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  • 20C0115_03
    February 1, 1995: The public in Ulm peacefully demonstrated their will to merge the bus brands Mercedes-Benz and Setra.
  • 20C0115_01
    On September 19, 1994, the day the notarized purchase agreement for the takeover of bus manufacturer Kässbohrer by Mercedes-Benz AG was signed, a Mercedes-Benz O 404 and a Setra 300 series coach stood in front of the company's headquarters in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim.
  • 20C0115_02
    25 years after the foundation of EvoBus GmbH, the picture that was taken on the occasion of the signing of the notarised purchase agreement for the takeover of the bus manufacturer Kässbohrer by Mercedes-Benz AG was reproduced. On the right a Mercedes-Benz Tourismo, on the left a Setra TopClass S 516 HDH.
  • 20C0115_04
    Till Oberwörder, Head of Daimler Buses.
  • 20C0115_05
    The fully electric Mercedes-Benz eCitaro ha s been in series production at the Mannheim plant since the end of 2018.
  • 20C0115_09
    Whether fully electric city buses, luxury high-deckers or manoeuvrable minibuses - for 25 years EvoBus GmbH, Europe's largest bus manufacturer, has been writing a success story in bus construction and has played a decisive role in shaping the bus mobility of tomorrow.
  • 20C0115_06
    The fully electric Mercedes-Benz eCitaro ha s been in series production at the Mannheim plant since the end of 2018.
  • 20C0115_07
    By developing locally emission-free drive systems and connected vehicles, Daimler Buses is helping to make traffic in urban areas and cities even more efficient and environmentally compatible.
  • 20C0115_08
    Omniplus On: The digitalization of service opens up new possibilities for companies for maximum availability, fleet management and spare parts purchasing.
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