Mercedes-Benz has been making buses since 1895 in Mannheim in Germany. Since 1995, the brand of Mercedes-Benz buses and coaches is under the umbrella of EvoBus GmbH, belonging 100 % to the Daimler AG.
The world's first motorised bus was built in Germany by Karl Benz in 1895, some years before Gottlieb Daimler also started to build and sell buses in Germany as well. By 1898 both Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler, then rivals, were exporting their buses to Wales and England. Soon Daimler products were sold in the British Empire in a partnership with the British company Milnes. Milnes-Daimler developed a double-decker in 1902 and provided a bus for the first motorised bus service in the United Kingdom the following year. Though the company met success in selling buses throughout the British Empire, the partnership between Daimler and Milnes had to be undone due to the First World War.
Due to economic hardships in the early 1900s, Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft and Benz & Cie. merged into one company in 1926, two years after both companies signed an agreement of mutual interest. Thus, Daimler-Benz AG (also known as Mercedes-Benz) was formed. In the next year, the company presented its first combined bus range. By that time emphasis was given to diesel engines (as opposed to petrol engines) for commercial vehicles.
In 1951 Mercedes-Benz unveiled its first bus specifically designed for bus operation (and not derived from a lorry, as was the case of the other buses produced by the conmpany until then) - the O6600 H. With a payload of 6600 tons, the 11-metre-long vehicle was equipped with a six-cylinder, transverse-mounted rear engine delivering 145 hp, a lower frame than its predecessors, and an electric gearshift system.
In 1954 Mercedes-Benz unveiled its firs semi-integral bus - the O321 H. The semi-integral design meant a reduction in weight, improvements in stability and body resistance. The O321 H also was the first to feature coil springs in the front-axle suspension. This 9.2-metre-long vehicle (a 10.9-metre version was later unveiled) also featured a rear-mounted engine. The first version was available with an output of 110 hp, and a later optional 126-hp version was made available. More than 30,000 units of the O321 H complete bus and its platform were sold around the world, a mark which places it as the best-selling bus of its time and, until today, one of the most successful models by Mercedes-Benz.
Some time after that, the company launched a bus model with the engine horizontally mounted in the wheelbase, under the floor - the O317. This was the only bus built by Mercedes-Benz with a middle engine. The engine of the O317 delivered 192 hp. This model was made available in 12-metre-long and [later] 11-metre-long versions. It was equipped with air suspension and double-boarding doors. The placement of the engine in the wheelbase made it possible for conversion firms to make semi-double-deckers and articulated buses based on the O317.
In 1959 the O321 H was joined by the O322 H, a 10-metre-long urban bus. Its characteristics were very similar to those of the O321 H, the main differences being the suspension (pneumatic in the O322), the longitudinal-mounted engine and the pneumatically assisted brake system with a bus-stop brake.
In 1965 the O302 was unveiled as the successor of the O321 H. Albeit it was available in a wide variety of versions for urban, rural and coach application, most of the more than 32,000 units of the O302 sold worldwide were of the coach version. In Brazil the O321 was joined by the O326 in 1966 and remained in range until 1970, when it was succeeded by the O362.
In Europe the O302 was succeeded by the O303 coach range in 1974. The O303 was the first Mercedes-Benz bus to feature innovations such as the use of V-engines, the Electronic Power Shift System (EPS), anti-lock braking system (ABS) and acceleration skid control. It is also the best-selling bus ever manufactured - some 38,000 units were sold worldwide, including integral-bus and platform versions.
(Note: the anti-locking braking system and the acceleration skid control were available for the O303 from 1981 onwards.)
In 1991 Daimler-Benz presented the O404 coach range as the successor of the O303 (though the O303 was produced until 1992). Amongst the main features of the O404 were the sheet metal stampings, disc brakes, independent front wheel suspension and the V-engine range delivering up to 381 hp. It was also the first integral coach from Mercedes-Benz to be available in a double-deck version.
In 1992 the O404 was joined by the Turkish-built O340, a high-deck coach based on the O303 and aimed at a lower-price end of the bus market. This model was redeveloped in 1994 and renamed O350. Engine options included the 381 hp V8 unit available to the O404.
Mercedes-Benz do Brasil Ltda. (Buses)
In the year 1951, technicians from Daimler Benz, accompanied by Brazilian specialists, carried out studies to analyse the viability of producing vehicles in Brazil. Two years later, on 7 October 1953, Mercedes-Benz do Brasil was officially founded, having as its first president Alfred Jurzykowski. A plant was then built in Sao Bernardo do Campo (a city neighbour to Sao Paulo city) in Sao Paulo State, Brazil. On the 28th of September 1956 the plant was inaugurated in the presence of the then President of Brazil, Juscelino Kubitschek. This date marks the birth of the Brazilian vehicle industry.
Until 1958 only lorries were produced in the Brazilian plant, and local body builders used lorry chassis to make buses. In 1958, the integral bus Mercedes-Benz O321 H also started to be produced in Brazil, supplying the Brazilian market as well as the market of other South American countries (although some Latin-American operators also bought European-made Mercedes-Benz buses). For instance, 550 units of Brazilian-made O321 integral buses were exported to Argentina in 1961, and other 300 units were exported to Venezuela in 1965.
In 1963, a front-engine bus chassis was unveiled, based on the LP 321 lorry. New versions of this chassis as well as new versions of the O321 integral bus were presented the following year.
The first integral bus tailored to the Brazilian market was the O326, a rear-engine coach unveiled in 1966. It featured the turbo-charged OM326 engine delivering up to 200 hp. One year later, a new front-engine bus chassis was also unveiled – the LPO-344, also based on a lorry chassis.
In 1969 a new rural- and urban-service bus was presented by Mercedes-Benz do Brasil. Designated O352, this integral bus was equipped with a direct-injection diesel engine. Two new front-engine chassis were presented that same year – the LPO-1113 and the LPO-1520.
During the 1970s the plant in Sao Bernardo do Campo was being expanded to meet with the increasing demand for the production of commercial vehicles. By the end of that decade, Mercedes-Benz had produced more than 500,000 commercial vehicles in the Brazilian plant, about 4,000 of which were integral buses.
In 1970, the rear-engine OH-1313 and the front-engine OF-1313 bus chassis were unveiled. One year later, a new integral coach was unveiled - the O362 - featuring a larger luggage compartiment than its predecessor, the O321. Yet another integral bus was presented by Mercedes-Benz do Brasil - the O355 - in 1974. The OH-1517 rear-engine chassis was also presented that year.
On year after the first three-axle bus was built in Brazil (based on the Mercedes-Benz LPO-1113 front-engine chassis) made its debut in 1977, the new O364 integral bus was presented by Mercedes-Benz do Brasil in two versions - one with a 130-hp engine, and the other with a 170-hp engine. Also in 1978 the production of the O362 was discontinued, after more than 35,100 units were produced in Brazil.
Since the demand for buses was growing by that time, a new plant was inaugurated in Campinas (a city in São Paulo State, Brazil), dedicated only for the production of buses. This plant was considered the biggest and most modern plant dedicated for the production of buses in the Western World. Meanwhile, the plant in Sao Bernardo do Campo was still being expanded.
In 1984 two new integral bus range were presented by Mercedes-Benz do Brasil. One of them was O370 coach range, available in two- and three-axle versions. It was the first coach range produced by Mercedes-Benz do Brasil fitted with air suspension as standard. The other was the O365 regular-service bus range. In 1987 the O370 and O365 bus ranges were succeeded by the O371 range (made up by three coaches and three regular-service bus models).
In 1991 the company inaugurates the Centro de Desenvolvimento Tecnológico (or Technological Development Centre in English) in Brazil. This is, until today, the largest of its kind in Latin America. Some of the projects developed by the Centro de Desenvolvimento Tecnológico in Brazil were the natural gas engine M-447 hLAG, used in the natural-gas-powered Citaro, and the cost-effective improvements made in the Axor truck world-wide.
In 1994, Mercedes-Benz do Brasil presented the O400 integral bus range, which included one standardised city bus, four coaches and the O400 UPA articulated bus - the first articulated bus produced by Mercedes-Benz in Brazil, which came into production only in 1995. This vehicle featured an electronic-managed articulation developed by the company. In that same year, Mercedes-Benz reached an 85%-share in the commercial vehicles market in Brazil. In the following year, Mercedes-Benz do Brasil received the ISO 9001 and the VBA 6.1 certifications.
In 1996 a new version of the O371 integral bus for regular-service operation was presented. However, months later Mercedes-Benz announced the end of integral bus production in Brazil. A statement was made in which the company announced it would henceforth focus on the production and development of bus chassis and platforms, and so it occurred.
Bus production was relocated in the Sao Bernardo do Campo plant in 2000, when the Campinas industrial complex was dedicated for activities related to training and overseeing the dealership network in Brazil, parts and accessories distribution and technical assistance.
Nowadays, under the umbrella of DaimlerChrysler do Brasil, the bus chassis produced by Mercedes-Benz in Brazil supply the Brazilian market and are exported for countries in the Americas, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Amongst the buses produced by Mercedes-Benz in Brazil are the O500 modular bus chassis series, which includes chassis made for urban and rural applications (available in raised- and low-floor versions) as well as coach chassis, the OH rear-engine bus chassis series, the OF front-engine bus chassis series and the LO mini- and micro-bus chassis series.
In 2006 DaimlerChrysler do Brasil unveiled two new articulated modular bus chassis - the O500 MA (raised floor) and the O500 UA (low-floor). Both are equipped with a six-cylinder-rear-mounted engine delivering 360 hp as standard. Units of the O500 articulated bus range were purchased to operate in the BRT systems of Curitiba, Sao Paulo, Santiago de Chile (Transantiago) and Bogotá (Transmilenio).
Mercedes released updated local Colectivo based on modified L 3500 truck chassis – LO 3500, OP 3500, LO 311, LO 312– with a separately manufactured body fitted at a later stage by different coach builders. In 1963 Mercedes built the 10,000nd colectivo (model LO 312), and continued with other models, such as L 1112, (120 HP), LA 1112 4x4 (traction in all wheels) and the L 1114. Due to the family relationship with the truck, the Mercedes-Benz Colectivos had a diesel engine with power transmitted to the rear axle by a five-speed constant-mesh gearbox.
Today it builds modern-style buses and several models of bus chassis and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter delivery vans, chassis cabs and minibuses with a large slice of them being exported to Germany. Mercedes-Benz commuter and touring buses are not necessarily up to European counterparts but robust enough to handle heavy urban usage and some of Argentina's rugged backcountry and extra long-distance travel.
Mercedes-Benz Türk A.S.
In addition, DaimlerChrysler AG is currently manufacturing buses and coaches under the brand 'Mercedes-Benz' in Turkey. Mercedes-Benz Türk was established in Istanbul in 1967, it started the production of O 302 type buses in 1968.
In 1970, only 2 years after its foundation, the company started to export buses, over 12,600 buses have been exported to date. In 1984 the company was appointed as the general representative of Mercedes-Benz in Turkey, added with new partners to the enterprise and started a new investment necessary for production of trucks. In 1986, parallel to the growth potential of Turkey, the truck plant started production in Aksaray. In November 1990 the company name was changed to Mercedes-Benz Türk A.Ş.
The company currently employs 2,800 personnel. Due to increasing export activities Mercedes-Benz Türk built a new bus plant in Hosdere/Istanbul, which became active in December 1994.
Since its foundation Mercedes-Benz Türk has sold approximately 36,000 buses, 50,000 trucks and 1,000 midibuses from its own production in addition to 20,000 cars since 1989 when the company activated the importation of passenger cars. Mercedes-Benz Türk currently produces intercity and municipality buses at Hosdere/Istanbul and Davutpasa/Istanbul plants, and light and heavy duty trucks at the Aksaray plant.
Mercedes-Benz Türk is the first company in the Turkish primary automotive industry to get the ISO 9002 quality certificate, obtained in 1994 for Aksaray and ISO 9001 quality certificate, obtained in 1995 for Davutpasa/Istanbul and Hosdere/Istanbul production plants.
Furthermore Mercedes-Benz Türk has the certificate for ISO 14001 environment management standards since May 2000 and the certificate for ISO 9001:2000 and ISO 16949 since March 2002.
Mercedes-Benz and the VÖV
During the 1960s, the Verband Deutscher Verkehrsunternehmen (or German Association for Public Transport Operations in English) conducted a project of a highly standardised and specialised bus, in order to improve the quality, simplify the maintenance and reduce the production costs of buses in Germany - the VÖV-I. Based on the recommendations provided by the VDV, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the O305 regular-service bus in 1967. In 1973 the rural-service bus O307 was presented. It was based on the O305 and also conceived in line with the standards set by the VDV. In 1977, Mercedes-Benz presented a 17-metre-long articulated version of the O305 (the O305 G), featuring a rear-mounted engine.
By the end of the 1970s the project was improved and a VÖV-II standardised bus range was presented. Mercedes-Benz again took part in the project and in 1980 presented the "S80" standardised regular-service bus. After minor changes were made, the Mercedes-Benz S80 came into production in 1984 as the O405, succeeding the O305. In the following year, an articulated (O405 G) and a rural-service version (O407) were unveiled.
In 1995 Daimler-Benz Bus and Coach range and Kässbohrer Bus Division were combined to form the EvoBus GmbH. Both Mercedes-Benz and Setra continued to operate separately on the market for some time.
One year later EvoBus was formed, the first of a new bus range from Mercedes-Benz was presented - the Integro (O550) rural-service bus, later joined by a three-axle 15-metre version. Besides the Integro, EvoBus also presented the Mercedes-Benz O405 NÜL (twin-axle long low-floor rural-service bus), O405 NK (compact city bus) and the Innovisia (an improved version of the O404). The Innovisia was the first bus to be equipped with an ABC suspension system. Shortly after the Citaro urban-service low-floor bus was unveiled. It was the first urban bus equipped with CAN data bus.
Coordinated production between Setra and Mercedes-Benz started in 1997. New versions of the Citaro low-floor bus were presented that year, including a 15-metre three-axle version and an 18-metre articulated version. In 1998 the new Mercedes-Benz Tourismo (O350) was presented in a super-high-deck version with three-axles, based on the O404 coach chassis. The O404 integral bus was succeeded by the Travego in 1999. The Travego was available either with a six-cylinder in-line engine (initially delivering 354 and 408 hp) or with a V8 engine (delivering 476 hp).
In the 17th edition of the Bus World exposition in Kortrijk (Belgium), Mercedes-Benz officially unveiled the Tourino - a 9,3-metre coach featuring automatic air suspension, disc brakes, ABS, EBS and ASR systems. There were two engine options (245 hp/279 hp), both six-cylinder rear-mounted engine.
The Citaro, Travego and Integro range were redeveloped by the end of 2005, and the CapaCity - a four-axle articulated low-floor bus 19.54-metre long - was unveiled in 2006. Also in 2006 the Tourismo was redeveloped, and a 14-metre version was presented. Amongst the innovations incorporated to the new Tourismo are the new engine output available (354 hp/408 hp/428 hp) and the new-generation transmissions available with EPS system.
Currently Mercedes-Benz concentrates the integral bus production in Germany and Turkey, and chassis production in Spain and Brazil. There are other manufacturing basis around the world, such as the ones in France and Argentina.
A joint-venture between Mercedes-Benz and Brazilian coachbuilder Marcopolo resulted in the formation of Polomex. The company assembles and sells urban buses and coaches with Mercedes-Benz chassis and Marcopolo body in Mexico. The coach range includes the Multego, a luxury coach based on the Mercedes-Benz OC500 modular bus chassis. The body, produced by Marcopolo, features a design similar to that of Mercedes-Benz Travego.
The earliest cited alternative-drive bus sold by Mercedes-Benz is the O6600 T, a trolleybus based on the O6600 H diesel bus. In the early 1950s, 350 German-made Mercedes-Benz trolleybuses were exported to Argentina.
Nonetheless, Mercedes-Benz engaged in intensive research and development of alternative propulsion systems in the 1960s. In 1969 the brand presented the OE302 electric bus. Two years later, a natural-gas-fuelled version of the O305 was unveiled, and in 1975 the OE302 duo bus went into trial operation in Esslingen, Germany. A minibus operated on pure hydrogen was demonstrated in 1977. In 1978 the hybrid electric OE305 was presented. The same year Mercedes-Benz do Brasil presented the OF-1315 front engine natural-gas-fuelled bus chassis for the Brazilian market. Other five duo buses went into trial operation in Esslingen the following year, two of them in battery/trolley operation and the other three in diesel/trolley operation. Also in 1979, Daimler-Benz sent a German-built O305 trolleybus to be tested in the city of São Paulo, Brazil, which then had one of the most extensive trolleybus system in the western world. The O305 GT trolleybus would go into production in 1981. Also in 1981 a methanol-fuelled O305 was unveiled.
In 1983 methanol-drive Mercedes-Benz buses were tested in São Paulo, Brazil. Some time later, 40 natural-gas-fuelled Mercedes-Benz O364 rear-engine integral buses went into experimental operation in that city. Two of them used a mixture of soy oil, ethanol and B-Diesel as fuel. In the following year Mercedes-Benz do Brasil unveil the OH-1315, a natural-gas-fuelled rear-engine bus chassis, and the O371 integral bus range for the Brazilian market, including a natural-gas integral urban bus and a trolleybus. In 1986 experiments were made in Europe with an articulated duo bus (diesel/electric) based on the O405. The O405 trolleybus was presented in that same year.
In the 1990s three new natural-gas-powered models were unveiled by Mercedes-Benz: the O405 GN GNG low-floor articulated bus, which was Europe's first natural gas low-floor city bus; the O405 NG solo city bus and the O405 ÜNG for rural service. All models were fitted with the M-447 hG engine that was exported from Brazil.
In 1994 a prototype of a low-floor articulated duo bus based on the O405 - the O405 GNTD - was presented, featuring electric hub motors.
In 1996 the OH-1315 natural-gas bus chassis is succeeded by the OH-1621 LG, also natural-gas-powered. One year later, the OH-1621 LG was equipped with an electronic-managed engine as standard.
In 1997 Daimler-Benz presented its first fuel-cell bus, designated NEBUS (New Electric Bus), based on the O405 urban bus. It was the world's first fully operational fuel-cell-powered bus. Another fuel-cell-powered was developed later, based on the Citaro. Exemplars of the Citaro Fuel Cell bus are currently being tested in Europe, China and Australia.
In 1998, the Cito (a diesel-electric midibus) was unveiled, featuring the low-floor concept.
In 2000, Mercedes-Benz do Brasil delivered the first 56 model M-447 hLAG turbocharged natural gas engines to the city of Hannover in Germany fitted to specially-designed Citaro citybuses for EXPO 2000. Subsequently, this engine has sold in larger numbers compared to the previous M-447 hG engine, with over 600 ordered by Australian bus operators alone.
- O305 & O305G
- O371U, O371UP, O371UL, O371R, O371RS, O371RSL and O371RSD
- O400UP, O400UPA, O400R, O400RS, O400RSL and O400RSD
- O405, O405G, O405N, O405GN, O405N2, O405GN2 and O405NH
- Conecto (O345)
- Tourismo (O350)
- Tourino (O510)
- Cito (O520)
- Citaro (O530 series)
- Integro (O550)
- Intouro (O560)
- Travego (O580)
- Touro (OC500RF 1836/1842/2542 raised-floor modular bus chassis)
- OC500LE 1825h/1828h/1830h/1825hG low-entry modular bus chassis (also known as O500LE, soon to be accompanied by an articulated version)
- OC500LF/OC500LF (A) low-floor modular bus chassis
- O500 M (1725/1726/1728/1732), O500 R (1830), O500 RS (1836), O500 RSD (2036/2236) and O500 MA (2836)
- O500 U (1725/1726 low-entry modular bus chassis) and O500 UA (2836 low-entry articulated modular bus chassis)
- OF series front-engine bus
- OH series rear-engine bus
- Mercedez-Benz history www.duttondirect.com accessed 8 May 2008
- www.mercedes-benz.argentina/history accessed 9 May 2008 (Spanish)
- Mercedes-Benz CapaCity High-capacity Bus On Grand Tour of Germany at TheAutoChannel