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Feeling like a new MAN | TRUCK REVIEW

The wheels of change turn slowly in the truck business, especially for a company in the throes of coming to terms with new partners, plus determining to itself as well as its customers, a total revision of where it sits in the grand pecking order of a diversified product range from different manufacturers based in various countries.

The TRATON Group is the emerging mega-manufacturer that’s slowly asserting itself under the control of ex-Daimler Trucks chief Andreas Renschler.

In recent months it’s announced an increased involvement with Navistar International, the introduction of TRATON Group member SCANIA into the North American mining industry and the announcement of electric drivetrains for International and Scania. There are also deals being developed with Hino along the way, just to make things truly global. Now it’s the turn of MAN to illustrate the role it will play as TRATON Group strategies continue to emerge.

The statistics of creating completely new truck generations are as mind boggling as the trucks themselves.  And yet in recent years we’ve seen Scania, DAF, UD, MACK, Kenworth, VOLVO and now MAN all step up to the plate to introduce new systems, new designs, higher levels of efficiency and improved safety features, remembering the ever-present focus on reducing the total cost of operation.

MAN Truck & Bus is one of Europe’s leading commercial vehicle manufacturers and transport solution providers, with an annual revenue in 2018 of about 11 billion euros ($AUS18.3 billion). The company’s product portfolio includes vans, trucks, buses/coaches and diesel and gas engines along with services related to passenger and cargo transport.

The company employs more than 36,000 people worldwide and for the launch of its New Generation it chose Bilbao in Spain for its most notable event in two decades. This city in Northern Spain is the tenth largest in the country, dating back to the early 14th century and forms a strong support base for the Basque population.

Joachim Drees, Chairman of the Executive Board at MAN Truck & Bus SE fronted the launch event and was joined by Andreas Renschler to outline the features and benefits of the New Generation MAN. Together they itemised the work involved as requiring 2,000,000 working hours spent on the project, 4,000,000 test kilometres driven prior to market launch and 2,800,000 lines of software code written to handle the data processing side.

“It required 167,000 working hours put into the new vehicle design and around 22,000 new item numbers were integrated into all departments. There are 3000 cab colours available as standard and there were 2100 MAN employees that were directly involved in the creation of the eight different cab sizes that are available for the new MAN Truck Generation,” said Mr Drees.

The project covered the MAN TGX, TGS, TGM and TGL and expanded to cater for the  changing requirements of the transportation industry, setting new standards for – among other things – assistance systems, driver orientation and digital networking.

The new Truck Generation thus represents the development of MAN Truck & Bus from vehicle manufacturer to a provider of intelligent and sustainable transport solutions. With fuel savings of eight percent, the new MAN Truck Generation achieves significant reductions in CO2. The newly-developed turn assist helps to prevent serious accidents in urban traffic – four years before the legally prescribed introduction. The lane-change assistant also warns the driver of vehicles in the next lanes.

The new MAN Truck Generation follows in the footsteps of the MAN TGA, which was launched back in the year 2000, as the truck maker and the transport industry itself face challenges such as the transport volume in the EU alone being expected to increase by an additional 40 percent in the next 20 years.

At the same time, strict legal regulations are intended to reduce CO2 emissions by 15 percent by 2025 (with an additional reduction by 30 percent by 2030). These emissions targets are of course not yet recognised by the Australian Government, neither are they being pursued with any vigour by the Truck Industry Council, which has so far failed to set a mandatory limit of Euro6, leaving Australia to lag behind an increasing number of concerned nations globally.

To make matters worse, there are less drivers. According to current estimations, in Germany there will be a shortage of around 150,000 qualified professional drivers in the next two years alone.

“Our customers expect us to provide them with answers to these questions, and rightly so,” stated Joachim Drees.

“For their sake, we need to be one step ahead of these changes with all their direct and indirect effects. This is a huge, but at the same time, extremely exciting task – it means that we need to think in different new dimensions as the manufacturer of our products.”

MAN is focusing on four core topics: the driver in their workplace, the vehicle’s efficiency and its reliable usability, as well as the strong and competent partnership for customers.

By optimising the workplace in the truck and adjusting it to better meet the daily requirements, a driver’s performance and motivation will contribute to a transport company’s economic success. But this benefit is dependent on their commitment and satisfaction. This is why the New Generation MAN sets higher standards in terms of user-friendliness, optimum ergonomics, operation which is more intuitive and reliable, networking with digital devices and applications. Last but not least, is the question of ensuring optimum space, a well-thought-out storage concept and perfect sleeping comfort – all which is geared towards needs which were determined based on experience.

Modern assistance systems such as the newly-developed turn assist, the traffic-jam assistant as well as lane-change assist reduce the strain on the driver and ensure increased safety in road traffic.

The interior of the cab takes the integration of smart systems further than we’ve seen so far with other manufacturers, incorporating a fully digital combi-dashboard which communicates to the driver through a 12.3-inch colour display seen through the top half of the steering wheel. Yet another 12.3-inch display screen to its right (left-hand drive model) runs the media and advanced navigation systems with a press and turn control knob running all those functions to the right of the steering wheel. The system is reminiscent of that used in Mercedes-Benz prestige cars, as are the actual driver assistance aids.

Everything is focused on driver safety and the support systems start with an SRS airbag in the steering wheel and then continue on with traffic-jam assist, active cruise control with Stop & Go, lane-departure warning, lane centring and a host of other active and passive systems.

There are eight size versions of the cab across the New Generation range and the top of the line version TGX comes with a floor-to-roof standing height of 2100 mm contained within a cab that is 2440 mm wide, 2280 mm in depth and 2150 mm in height.

The Euro6d engine range, which was introduced back in 2019, realises its full efficiency potential with the new MAN vehicle generation. The perfect interplay of the units with additional, newly-developed consumption-reducing driveline and software components provides the future series with a trailblazing level of efficiency. In this way, the new MAN Truck Generation saves up to eight percent of fuel compared to the Euro6c predecessor version in classic long-haul transport applications, and thus achieves a clear reduction in CO2.

The MAN D38 engine is still the cornerstone for the power range and it’s available in three outputs of 397 kW (540 hp), 427 kW (580 hp) and 472 kW (640 hp), placing these new outputs right in the ballpark for long haul Australian operations. The D26 and D38 engines use EGR and SCR to minimise NOx emissions.

The new MAN D15-series engine range runs with SCR and the MAN CRT (continuously regenerating trap), filter system achieving Euro6d compliance without any EGR involvement.

Operators that consistently work in off-road and high-slip areas with poor traction are going to appreciate the availability of the MAN HydroDrive system that is activated at the push of a button and sends power forwards to the steer axle. With a tare weight benefit of 400 kg when compared to a conventional all-wheel-drive alternative, the hydraulic drive is a smart solution. Electric braking and ABS come into play for the downhill sections, proving that braking efficiency and safety can be pre-programmed into a vehicle as a total benefit.

The improved aerodynamics of the new vehicle design also play their part in this reduction. MAN claims that nearly 40 percent of the energy needed to keep a truck moving at 85 km/h in invested in overcoming air resistance. On that basis it’s easy to understand why improving the slipperiness of the truck as it passes through the air has become such a priority in the latest design. Furthermore, MAN offers additional targeted and practice-oriented training and instruction options with digital applications, in order to support drivers in even more efficient driving methods.

The increasing complexity of the technological interventions and driver assistance systems that now feature on new trucks illustrates the need to driver training. Nobody is going to expect an airline pilot will “figure out” what knob achieves a specific result if something happens in a hurry and urgent action is needed to rectify a problem. The same applies to truck driving and every driver taking delivery of a new vehicle full of technical wizardry and sophistication should be trained by a professional instructor. This all sounds so simple and yet driver training, if available, is often left to a truck salesman that also lacks investment in their own ability. When compared to a truck salesman, a driver trainer does not share the same mindset of skillset.

Office staff regularly head off to IT classes when a new software programme is released onto the market, but the driver is often overlooked. All credit here must go to Volvo, UD, MACK and Scania for their commitment to running driver trainers as part of a team to assist drivers and operators get the best returns from their vehicles.  A 10-minute run around the block does not achieve the desired result.

Comprehensive product improvements for components and in the areas of maintenance and service, reduce service-life costs. Likewise, the new MAN Truck Generation offers significant payload advantages for weight-sensitive application sectors.

How “good” a truck is when it is in use largely depends on how efficiently and easily it fulfils its transport task. An important parameter here is reliability. A comprehensively developed, digitalised maintenance management system reduces operating costs and ensures maximum availability of the new MAN TG vehicles. Fleet management and drivers are supported through numerous digital functionalities and services.

In the research to find out how the ideal workplace and living space in a truck should be designed, the MAN developers interviewed over 700 drivers (including during visits to truck stops and service stations) with different prototype solutions. The feedback from the professionals and their personal wishes went directly into the new series.

Additionally, MAN invited 300 national and international customers from a total of 16 countries to Munich, in order to define the most important requirements for a new vehicle with them in workshops. The developers compared this diverse input with the feedback from the driver interviews and implemented the resulting core ideas into the numerous innovative features of the new MAN Truck Generation.

In order for series production of the new MAN Truck Generation to be ready to go and to be able to simultaneously offer the previous models during the transition phase until the end of 2020, MAN invested around 100 million euros  ($AUS166.3 million) at the Munich site alone, for example. There, up to 500 cabs from the comprehensive range of the new MAN Truck Generation and the previous TG series are produced each day.

Additional investments amounting to 85 million euros ($AUS141.3 million) went into the new cab paint shop of the main factory, which can now meet the increased output of cab construction without any problems. It is one of the most state of the art and environmentally-friendly plants in Europe and another step on the way to a “green factory”, which MAN is dedicated to achieving.

At the plant in Steyr, Austria where the TGL and TGM series continue to roll off the production line, a new and cutting-edge paint shop was also put into operation.

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