ALL-STAR TOUR

As a ma­jor chas­sis sup­plier to the Aus­tralian bus mar­ket, Scania as a brand needs ‘no in­tro­duc­tion’. Its new com­pletely built lux­ury Tour­ing coach though, is in­deed sin­cerely ‘pleased to meet you’.

ABC (Australia) - - CONTENTS - WORDS FABIAN COT­TER

JV with Chi­nese bus man­u­fac­turer Higer to bring in a CBU coach called the Tour­ing. We sussed it out at its of­fi­cial de­but ear­lier this month. Fabian Cot­ter re­ports.

Scania has called into play its long-stand­ing

Acronyms are cu­ri­ous things. Se­duc­tively sim­plis­tic and catchy one mo­ment, ir­ri­tat­ingly an­noy­ing the next. They’re ev­ery­where these days. OEM, ABC – had to get the free plug in, you know how it is - MIA ... and who could for­get that old ’ 70s fam­i­ly­din­ner-now-school-lunch-left-overs favourite, KFC?

Yet per­haps the one that’s most ap­petis­ingly in­ge­nious is the mod­ern mas­ter­piece that’s thrown about the place with ease: OCD.

Sci­en­tif­i­cally speak­ing (not), that’s pretty much just po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness for ‘bat­shit crazy’, evolv­ing from years of not know­ing what the heck to make of pedan­tic peo­ple’s in­de­cent ob­ses­sion for, well … all sorts of things. Yet now that we are all big kids and can go pee by our­selves, we can talk about the ob­ses­sion more us have than we’d ac­tu­ally care to ad­mit: for­mal­ity.

Yep, many car en­thu­si­asts have it. De­signer-fash­ion lovers live by it. Dogs and cats across Aus­trala­sia prob­a­bly swear by it, who knows?

The point is, over a broader spec­trum there’ll al­ways be some­one (deep down there’s a bit ‘brand whore’ in us all, don’t you think?) who wants and needs things in life to be fac­tory-spec… Gen­uine and au­then­tic… For­mal and of­fi­cial.

And in buses, you’ll of­ten find, it’s no dif­fer­ent. Or as close to it.

In this coun­try, Scania’s lon­gawaited com­pletely built unit (CBU) Tour­ing coach might just be about to tap into that seg­ment of the mar­ket.

TOUCH DOWN

Of­fi­cially de­but­ing onto the Aus­tralian lux­ury bus mar­ket at an ex­clu­sive din­ner event in Port Dou­glas, Queens­land re­cently, it of­fers op­er­a­tors a truly “bumperto-bumper” all-Scania ex­pe­ri­ence, the com­pany says.

As a re­sult of the change in the per­mis­si­ble gross ve­hi­cle mass (GVM) for two-axle coaches in Aus­tralia, Scania has been able to con­struct a busi­ness case for of­fer­ing the Tour­ing as an 18-tonne GVM 57-seater at a com­pli­ant 2.5m in width and 3.8m in height.

The launch model fea­tured a six-cylin­der 360hp en­gine, with the ve­hi­cle driven from Mel­bourne, Vic­to­ria to Port Dou­glas. Scania re­ports that it used less than 20 litres per 100 km/h. “Although it was empty [of lug­gage and pas­sen­gers], it is a brand new en­gine not run in yet, mak­ing it a pretty good re­sult,” the com­pany said.

Ac­cord­ing to the com­pany, a Scania chas­sis, pow­er­train and Scania-de­signed all-steel body, plus ac­cess to the lat­est gen­er­a­tion ac­tive safety sys­tems, a 57-seat

[The Tour­ing is the] re­sult of the change in the per­mis­si­ble GVM for two-axle coaches.

ca­pac­ity and 9m3 of lug­gage space, gives the new Tour­ing the edge in the school and char­ter/long-dis­tance mar­ket.

That it is a Scania “from bumperto-bumper” was a point re­peat­edly high­lighted to the as­sem­bled bus op­er­a­tors and key in­dus­try per­son­nel dur­ing the Hawai­ian-shirt themed night.

“The Scania Tour­ing has been proven in ser­vice around the world as a very durable and sat­is­fy­ing prod­uct, and our cus­tomers en­joy bumper-to-bumper Scania qual­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity,” said Ju­lian Gur­ney, newly pro­moted to the sta­tus of na­tional sales di­rec­tor for Scania Aus­tralia Bus and Coach.

“The Scania Tour­ing is highly cost-ef­fec­tive to run, and sup­plies will be read­ily avail­able. It can also be op­tioned with the lat­est safety fea­tures and tai­lored to meet op­er­a­tors’ spe­cific re­quire­ments.

“Con­sis­tent with our strat­egy of driv­ing the shift to­wards a sus­tain­able trans­port fu­ture, we are of­fer­ing a 360hp five-cylin­der en­gine ver­sion in Euro 6 com­pli­ance mated to a ZF sixspeed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, or eight­speed Op­ti­cruise au­to­mated gear­box,” Gur­ney said.

“Cus­tomers re­quir­ing greater torque from a larger ca­pac­ity en­gine can op­tion the 360hp, Euro 5, 13-litre, six-cylin­der en­gine mated to an eight-speed Scania Op­ti­cruise au­to­mated gear­box, or for the pin­na­cle of power there is a 410hp, Euro 6, 13-litre six-cylin­der en­gine with 2150Nm of torque mated to the eight­speed Scania Op­ti­cruise.

“We have taken driver com­fort very se­ri­ously so there is a sep­a­rate fac­to­ry­fit­ted air con­di­tion­ing sys­tem for the driver’s sta­tion, as well as one for the sa­loon, while the fully ad­justable driv­ing po­si­tion, low dash­board and er­gonom­i­cally laid-out con­trols help to re­duce fa­tigue on long runs.

“We an­tic­i­pate the first stock will be ar­riv­ing within weeks, so op­er­a­tors who or­der im­me­di­ately could see their new Tour­ing de­liv­ered in time for the Christ­mas tour­ing sea­son, depend­ing on the spec­i­fi­ca­tion they or­der,” he said.

“And by tak­ing ad­van­tage of our long­stand­ing Scania Driver Train­ing and our Scania Com­mu­ni­ca­tor ve­hi­cle and driver mon­i­tor­ing sys­tems, we can en­sure op­er­a­tors ben­e­fit from the best pos­si­ble ef­fi­ciency and per­for­mance from their in­vest­ment in the Scania Tour­ing,” he ex­plained.

THE TO­TAL PACK­AGE?

As Scania spokes­peo­ple un­der­lined on the night, the Tour­ing has been en­gi­neered to meet the needs of the com­pany’s Aus­tralian cus­tomers for a ready-built ve­hi­cle with a sin­gle point-of­con­tact for all as­pects of ser­vic­ing and main­te­nance over the life­cy­cle.

The Scania Tour­ing has an all-steel 12.3-me­tre body and it ex­ceeds all the re­quire­ments of the Euro­pean rollover test, it’s claimed.

Scania Tour­ing comes stan­dard with anti-lock brak­ing sys­tem (ABS), elec­tronic break­ing sys­tem (EBS) and elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol. It may be also be equipped op­tion­ally with a raft of the lat­est ac­tive safety fea­tures, such as ad­vanced emer­gency brak­ing, adap­tive cruise con­trol (Op­ti­cruise only) and lane de­par­ture warn­ing, it’s stated.

The Scania Tour­ing comes to Aus­tralia in two-axle con­fig­u­ra­tion. The stan­dard pow­er­train is Scania’s renowned Euro 6, nine-litre, five-cylin­der en­gine, driv­ing through the Scania Op­ti­cruise au­to­mated gear change trans­mis­sion, com­plete with Scania Re­tarder, or via a ZF six-speed push-but­ton hy­draulic trans­mis­sion.

Op­tions for Euro 5 and Euro 6, 13-litre, six-cylin­der en­gines that drive through the Scania Op­ti­cruise au­to­mated gear change trans­mis­sion will be avail­able to cus­tomer spe­cific or­ders, says Scania.

The “big­ger and bet­ter” Tour­ing shares

many of the ad­van­tages of the Sca­ni­aHiger A30, sold in Aus­tralia over the past decade: ex­cep­tional build qual­ity, rugged con­struc­tion ca­pa­ble of tak­ing on Aus­tralia con­di­tions, and the many ad­van­tages of the Scania chas­sis and pow­er­train, the com­pany says.

Lug­gage ca­pac­ity is “a full nine cu­bic me­tres” thanks to “deep bins” un­der the floor, ac­cessed by pan­to­graph doors each side that make it “a true tour­ing ve­hi­cle, in ad­di­tion to its daily role as a school and char­ter bus,” it adds.

GLOBAL BACK­GROUND

The Tour­ing has been of­fered in global mar­kets for some time and has, says Scania, been es­pe­cially suc­cess­ful in Europe, Africa and Asia, as well as the UK. That’s be­cause it is “ro­bust, re­li­able and has very pre­dictable run­ning costs,” the com­pany states.

Scania Tour­ing is built at a “be­spoke and ded­i­cated pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity” at Suzhou, near Shang­hai, China, close to the Scania-Higher A30 as­sem­bly hall. The Swedish bus maker has been work­ing with Higer since 2004, and the part­ner­ship “pro­vides Scania with a route to sat­isfy the needs of new, emerg­ing and ex­ist­ing mar­kets around the world,” it ex­plains.

Scania adds that build qual­ity, fit and fin­ish, as well as re­li­a­bil­ity and dura­bil­ity in se­vere en­durance tests, ex­ceeded

PIECED TO­GETHER

The Scania rolling chas­sis ar­rives in China from Swe­den and is fit­ted with the body, built un­der “the watch­ful eye” of Scania qual­ity con­trollers, it states.

As with the Scania-Higer A30, the Scania Tour­ing can be fit­ted with 49,

53 or 57 seats (plus driver) on ar­rival in Aus­tralia, to the op­er­a­tor’s spec­i­fi­ca­tion.

Scania aims to keep stock on the ground so as to en­able very fast or­derto-de­liv­ery times, as has been the case with the suc­cess­ful Scania-Higer A30 pro­gramme, the com­pany ex­plains.

Key ben­e­fits for op­er­a­tors, says Scania, are: the sin­gle point of con­tact for sales, ser­vice and re­place­ment parts; rou­tine main­te­nance and re­pairs; and it all is avail­able via Scania’s na­tion­wide net­work of wholly owned branches and 46 ser­vice in­de­pen­dent au­tho­rised ser­vice deal­ers.

The Scania Tour­ing is of­fered with a five-year struc­ture and paint war­ranty, 12 months’ fac­tory war­ranty on the chas­sis, and a two-year fac­tory war­ranty on the driv­e­line. Every ve­hi­cle is also sup­plied with a Scania driver train­ing ses­sion and four years of com­pli­men­tary ve­hi­cle mon­i­tor­ing, the com­pany ex­plains.

We have taken driver com­fort very se­ri­ously, with a low dash and er­gonomic con­trols.

Scania’s ex­pec­ta­tions and bench­marks dur­ing the de­vel­op­ment phase and ex­pe­ri­ence in ser­vice has been just as pos­i­tive, ap­par­ently.

THE CHINA SYN­DROME

At the time of the Tour­ing’s Queens­land’s launch, ABC mag­a­zine spoke ex­clu­sively with Jes­per Eriks­son, gen­eral man­ager Scania Group, China.

When asked to ex­plain what sort of qual­ity is be­hind the Chi­nese el­e­ment of the build, he said: “The Scania Tour­ing is a Scania from ‘bumper-to-bumper’ – not just the com­po­nents, but the qual­ity of the build, as well. We have a highly ded­i­cated team of Scania em­ploy­ees work­ing with con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ments of the prod­ucts and en­sur­ing that every prod­uct that leaves the line meet Scania’s high-qual­ity stan­dards through in-process in­spec­tions, as well as fi­nal qual­ity sign off.

“The pur­pose-built pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity

in China is ex­clu­sive to Scania and Scania-Higer prod­ucts.

All stages of man­u­fac­tur­ing are un­der Scania’s over­sight.

“To date, Scania and Higer [have] built over 3000 buses, ei­ther all-Scania units or Sca­ni­aHiger units since 2009. We use mass pro­duc­tion tech­niques and tol­er­ances in ac­cor­dance with Scania stan­dards, and we pro­vide qual­ity as­sur­ance that is the equal of any other Scania plant in Europe,” he ex­plained.

“Scania Tour­ing pro­duc­tion qual­ity is an im­mensely im­por­tant part of what we do in China. The con­tin­u­ous qual­ity im­prove­ments made is a very big con­trib­u­tor to the pos­i­tive vol­ume growth and the suc­cess of the Scania Tour­ing world­wide.

“The Scania pro­duc­tion phi­los­o­phy is un­changed ir­re­spec­tive of the lo­ca­tion of the pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity,” he said adamantly. “The Scania Tour­ing is a truly global prod­uct, which to­day is sup­plied to 40-plus mar­kets. I have to meet tar­gets in the same way that my col­leagues in Swe­den, France of the Nether­lands do.

“A Scania is a Scania built to the same high global stan­dards in every fac­tory. When you buy a Scania Tour­ing you are getting Scania’s best prod­uct and best qual­ity, proven over many years and many thou­sands of ve­hi­cles al­ready pro­duced. It is a re­fined, proven and re­li­able prod­uct,” Eriks­son con­cluded.

THE LO­CAL IM­PACT

The Scania Tour­ing went on sale from Oc­to­ber 6, with de­liv­er­ies avail­able be­fore the end of 2018. A Scania in­sider re­vealed to ABC mag­a­zine that ap­prox­i­mately 10 of the first coaches “have been spo­ken for”.

“The first batch of 10 … we are rea­son­ably con­fi­dent they are all spo­ken for. But they’ll be com­ing in on a reg­u­lar ba­sis be­cause the idea is to have stock ‘on the ground’, so that we can have seats ready as well,” said Alexan­der Corne, Scania Aus­tralia PR man­ager. “So, for ex­am­ple, if a cus­tomer comes in and says ‘I want one now’, we can put the seats in and off they go.

“We won’t have the seats [al­ready] in the bus be­cause there’s ob­vi­ously so many dif­fer­ent lo­cally man­u­fac­tured seats, but if you want McCon­nells or Sty­lerides or what­ever, we can just have them put in [as de­sired].”

With many op­er­a­tors on the night of the launch vis­i­bly im­pressed with what they saw of the Tour­ing – prior to the next day’s group drive ex­pe­ri­ence to trans­fer launch at­ten­dees back to Cairns for the 2018 Aus­trala­sia BIC/BCANZ in­au­gu­ral an­nual con­fer­ence – there was one com­mon ques­tion they wanted an­swered: price?

With a non-seats rough start­ing amount of $306,000 men­tioned by Scania event rep­re­sen­ta­tives when pressed bluntly by some op­er­a­tors, a more ac­cu­rate full amount was yet to be dis­closed, given so many be­spoke vari­ables per cus­tomer need­ing to be fac­tored in.

How­ever, as ex­plained to ABC mag­a­zine: “As that bus stands there, with 13-litre en­gine and McCon­nell seats? ‘Mid-threes’, on the road. So that’s seats, elec­tronic desto, video/DVD screens and 13-litre en­gine – mid-300s.”

Asked what im­pact a CBU Scania unit could or would have on the lo­cal bus body build­ing in­dus­try, they re­sponded:

“We al­ready take up a full 50 per cent of all lo­cal body builders’ ca­pac­ity. If we wanted an­other slot, we’d have to wait until 2020 [to get a slot], and for some builders like

Coach De­sign, Coach Con­cepts and Coach Ex­press … we put a lot of coach chas­sis through them – so from an im­pact per­spec­tive this won’t have any im­pact on them at all.

“Vol­umes for this [ Tour­ing] are go­ing to be mod­est to start with … and they [lo­cal body builders]

…an all-steel 12.3-me­tre body and ex­ceeds all re­quire­ments of the Euro­pean rollover test.

don’t have ca­pac­ity, so I don’t think that’s go­ing to be an is­sue…”

HIGER’S OWN

So will Higer it­self be able to bring out the same or sim­i­lar ve­hi­cle, in its own right?

“That is a Scania de­sign, it’s been on sale since 2009. It’s a global prod­uct: you can’t build a part­ner­ship on that ba­sis. But that’s ba­si­cally a spe­cial bus [for us] be­cause we con­vinced our fac­tory to make it at 2.5m for the Aus­tralian mar­ket, whereas in other mar­kets it is 2.55m, so they were very help­ful with that,” they said.

“The 18-tonne GVM was the is­sue [in Aus­tralia]; once they signed off on that lo­cally, we were able to get [the Tour­ing] built.”

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IM­AGES SCANIA AUS­TRALIA

Above: Driver com­fort has been taken very se­ri­ously with a low dash and er­gonom­i­cal­ly­de­signed con­trols.

Right:Scania is of­fer­ing op­er­a­tors a tru­ely ‘bumperto-bumper’ ex­pe­ri­ence.Op­po­site:The Scania Tour­ing ex­ceeds all re­quire­ments of the Euro­pean rollover test.

Above: Scania says that it has stock ‘on the ground’ so or­ders can be quickly de­liv­ered.

Be­low: The de­but Scania Tour­ing model had the 13-litre en­gine, as shown.

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