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.

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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

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