Mercedes-Benz SHD 2441 emerges as new benchmark for luxury buses
Daimler Buses India showcased the upgraded flagship Mercedes-Benz SHD coach. The company wants to leverage the growth potential in India’s bus segment by building a portfolio of such benchmark products.
Daimler Buses India recently showcased the upgraded version of its flagship 15-metre Mercedes-Benz Super High Deck (SHD) multi-axle luxury coach, at its Oragadam plant in Chennai. The new Mercedes-Benz 2441 SHD coach replaces the 2436 SHD coach that was launched as India’s longest luxury coach by the company in October 2015.
The new luxury coach has USPs like higher power (50 hp over the Mercedes-Benz 2436 SHD coach), and automatic transmission. Through the upgrade, Daimler Buses India is assuring an improved fuel efficiency for the operator and a smoother and quieter ride for the passenger. Daimler Buses India is keen to tap the per annum growth potential of 4% in the Indian bus segment. Thomas Fricke, Managing Director, Daimler Buses India, said that the company is looking to lead the transformation in the Indian bus segment. Explaining how until recently, the India bus market was all about satisfying basic transportation needs, he said Daimler Buses India holds a positive outlook for the long-term. “As the Indian bus market is evolving, we lead the shift from the modern to premium segment with products that meet global standards of performance and safety. With superior technology, we aim to be the benchmark in terms of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), safety and comfort,” Fricke said.
For enhanced safety and comfort levels, Daimler Buses India is designing superior suspensions, seat layouts, climate control and cabin noise. With the Mercedes-Benz 2441 SHD automatic luxury coach, Daimler Buses India has transformd India’s bus segment from modern to premium, going beyond just satisfying the basic transportation needs of taking passengers from point A to point B. The company has worked to bring about a slew of changes in its flagship product by retaining the premium look and feel on both the exterior and the interior of its predecessor (Mercedes-Benz 2431 SHD coach).
For better TCO, Daimler Buses India has built the Mercedes-Benz 2441 SHD making use of an Aluminique body. The structure uses mild steel understructure with an aluminium alloy extrusion frame. The exterior panels make use of aluminium alloy sheets that are bolted with chemical locking. The flat floor makes use of marine grade plywood and anti-skid vinyl. The resultant weight shaving
enables the new coach to offer a higher fuel economy.
High seating capacity of up to 59 pushback seats and 14 cubic meters of luggage space with an opening height of 0.9 m translate to an additional source of revenue for the operator, coupled with a higher degree of comfort and safety for the passenger. Luggage space and safety get a boost owing to strategic positioning of the fuel tank over the rear axle of the 3-axle coach. Adding to it is also the thermostat-based fire detection system in the engine compartment.
Among other premium features are the all-new dashboard, the in-swing pneumatic door, and toughened and all-breakable window panes with a tint of green. Emergency exits on the coach include a door, roof-hatches, and windows. BharatBenz buses, claimed Fricke, exceeds the standard safety requirement, offering safety belts on all seats, standard fitment of anti-roll bars, and higher rollover safety, calf support on all the seats and a seat pitch of 960 mm made up by way of the enhanced comfort levels. To keep the NVH levels low and maximise the ambient sound, for instance, the coach makes use of a minimum set of mirrors and hatracks.
Powered by the vertical in-line, water-cooled, 12-litre 6-cylinder OM457 BSIV diesel engine, the Mercedes-Benz 2441 SHD luxury coach can develop 408 hp (300 kW) at 2000 rpm. The super lowend torque of 1900 Nm at 1100 rpm of the coach ensures a better pick-up. The engine based on SCRtechnology is mated to a 6-speed ZF Ecolife 6 AP 2000B automatic transmission fitted with the Intarder (ZF Ecolife). Claimed Fricke, that the reliable powertrain and chassis have lower maintenance costs compared to the competition. The coach makes use of Electronic Controlled Air Suspension (ECAS) on the front and the rear axles with a double acting telescopic shock absorber. Experiencing for ourselves on Daimler’s testing track, how the SHD was put through a series of stringent tests in order to make the cut, it was evident that the ECAS system from Brazil was designed specially for the Indian roads. Said a Daimler official that typically a bus would do 50,000 km of rough road test before its commercial release. A banana beam structure along with positioning of air bellows nearer to the side walls enables the bus to absorb and dampen the rough road effects.
The Electronic Braking System (EBS) includes disc brakes with Antilock Braking System (ABS) and Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR) for better control and vehicle stability. It allows quick cornering and easier avoidance manoeuvres by applying the brakes to the outer front wheel on the bend.
In 2017, Daimler Buses India recorded 80% growth over 2016 (501 units) with a cumulative domestic sales of 906 units. Fricke drew attention to what he called a remarkable growth in the company’s second full year of operation despite18% dip in a volatile market due to the implementation of structural reforms. The company expects to sustain the growth momentum in 2018 with a bus portfolio that comprises MercedesBenz 15 metre multi-axle luxury coaches and bus chassis for the 9, 16 and 24-tonne segments, and the BharatBenz 9-tonne buses in the school, staff and tourist bus subsegments. The full-range player is additionally banking on exports of bus chassis for the 9 and 16-tonne segments to markets in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and South East Asia, with the added capacity to build 3000 chassis units. With the technology for India’s evolving bus market for the future, and a full-fledged team to drive operations, it would not be too optimistic to target a market share of 24% and a domestic to export ratio of 2:3 from erstwhile 2:1 in 2017, Fricke said. Claiming to steer clear of price competition, he said that Daimler Buses India products are still priced competitively. With 6 units of the MercedesBenz 2441 SHD automatic luxury coaches claimed to have already been sold, the company is confident of selling up to 200 units of its flagship product. In a segment that does a volume of 600 units, opined Fricke, that it was not hard to achieve the feat especially given the speculations around the exit of an OEM that until recently was being looked upon as competition in the space.
With no plans to enter the city bus segment and nor the electric bus segment, the company according to Fricke would look at launching fully-built products only post the rollout of BSVI emission norms. The company is confident of sustaining growth with the benchmark products using its 2 brand strategy: BharatBenz as the volume segment and Mercedes-Benz as the premium segment.
Thomas Fricke, Managing Director, Daimler Buses India