Neoplan celebrates its jubilee with a year of delay
We have noticed several times the unusual tendency of Germans to celebrate anniversaries when the time is not right for them.
We have noticed several times the unusual tendency of Germans to celebrate anniversaries when the time is not right for them. We can remember that, on the part of Mercedes that miscalculated the anniversary of the Unimog brand, then MAN celebrated a jubilee related to the 250th birthday of a blacksmith, and now it seems that the Bavarians did not want to stand out either. Now we are looking forward to the 85th birthday of the Neoplan brand ?!
The Gottlob Auwärter brand (as it was called during its independent existence) was founded in July 1935 in Stuttgart, so it was logical to celebrate the 85th birthday last year, not 2021, when the 86th year is already underway. Pride, the first bus with the Neoplan label was launched "only" 68 years ago, which also doesn't seem like a round date. However, Neoplan gave us many reasons to admire it and remind ourselves of some interesting details from history.
Although the Neoplan's past does not go deep into the past, it is very impressive in any case. If not, Neoplan would not have become the "King of the Roads", as he was nicknamed in Europe, Asia, and earlier in America. There wouldn't be nice thick books about this manufacturer if it didn't stand out well on the market. However, the history of the German bus manufacturer is widely available on the Internet, and we can also discuss it a bit in another article, one that would focus on that area. On this occasion, we believe that it would be interesting to share some moments from history that are not so well known to the general public.
At the bus exhibition organized in 1994, the owner of Neoplan Konrad Auverter shows the suspension system of his own production and completely flat under the carbon Metroliner
The undoubted success of the Neoplan was primarily based on the attention that the owners of the company paid to the improvement of comfort for passengers. The entire engineering team of the Bavarian company has been focused on achieving high goals in this segment, from the very beginning of the brand.
So, back in 1957, air suspension on buses of this brand appeared for the first time, instead of the conventional solution with springs. The front suspension was also independent, in which way the Neoplan really stood out, because it was unique in this regard. By the way, Neoplan used components from different suppliers over time, so diesel engines were provided by DAF, Deutz, Mercedes, MAN, Detroit Diesel, and even Japanese Hino; while gearboxes with the signature of the brands: Voith, ZF, Renk, Allison were installed.
However, the vast majority of bridges and suspension systems were developed inside the house. to this day.
Low-floor Neoplan intended for airport service, from the first to the Galaxy Lounge version that can accommodate up to 340 passenger
During 1960, the first articulated bus in the range appeared and it was also revolutionary. The installation of the engine in the zone of the front overhang, as well as the rear axles of its own production, enabled the transmission of driving force to the front wheels, which further created the preconditions for a low-floor configuration, in which way passengers profited again. Thanks to these ideas, Neoplan became a world leader again for many years to come.
Another "demonstration of force" - a low-floor Metroshuttle without a rear overhang and with control on both axles. Twenty years later, a replica of these ideas was applied to the Mercedes Cito model
Later, other, new innovations on the topic of raising comfort were implemented. Individual ventilation openings for passengers were introduced in 1961, and a toilet and wardrobe were installed in a double-decker tourist bus during 1967.
A couple of years later, a model called the Cityliner debuted, and it was characterized by the fact that it had mounted seats in a slightly higher position. Passengers enjoyed the operation of the air conditioning, while a double layer was used for glazing. New models have also appeared - even taller, longer and more luxurious than the previous ones, which has contributed to Neoplan positioning itself as the leading manufacturer in the tourism segment.
Jumbo-jet between buses. Four axles and two floors were enough to enter the Guinness Book of Records
Although the obvious effort was focused on the development of long-distance models, those competitors intended for urban transport were not neglected either. thus, the first low-floor model, even with a plastic body, was developed by Neoplan during 1976. As often happens to innovators, the idea was fiercely ahead of its time, so such a solution remained isolated at that time. However, it was resurrected years later and became extremely popular…
As expected, this model that accommodates 96 passengers was called the Megaliner and was a very rare sight on the roads.
Neoplan itself returned to this idea, the idea of a light bus, only in 1988 with the presentation of the Metroliner MIC model. The body was made of composite materials, which reduced the weight of the heavyweights to 40% lower. At the same time, this gain through reduced weight has enabled the manufacturer to test itself with the installation of various powertrains, electric and even hydrogen, long before this became a generally accepted, global trend.
Neoplan buses were also made for special purposes. Here we see the mobile control center of the Ministry of Emergency Situations
It should be especially emphasized that Neoplan has achieved a leading position on the German market, but also that it has significantly influenced bus manufacturers in other countries. As early as the 1990s, the brand controlled production in nine factory complexes on European soil alone, while global expansion began much earlier.
For example, one of the first joint ventures in China dates back to the central part of the 1980s. Since then, at least three companies in the territory have been officially hired to install buses, and the number of illegal replicas is practically inconceivable to this day.
The joint venture in the African state of Ghana has been in operation since 1974, and the entity has developed a simplified Tropicliner city bus. They were delivered to many neighboring markets, and there were also some in South Africa. Almost the entire range of the parent concern was on the production lines of the joint venture in Iran. That company was called Iran Khodro.
City low-floor Neoplani with MAZ badge
The two factories operated simultaneously in the United States. One built in the state of Pennsylvania was in charge of assembling city specimens, while the one that sprang up in the state of Colorado was engaged in assembling models from the tourism segment.
The Polish division, formed in 1994, started assembling city models and very quickly became a leader. It was later separated from the company and changed its name to the now famous company name: Solaris Bus & Coach.
Interior of the intercity Neoplan in a luxury edition
Finally, the influence of Neoplan was huge on the huge market of the Russian Federation. In 1992, the newly opened representative office of the Belarusian MAZ bought a license for the production of the low-floor model Neoplan N4014. As a direct consequence of that contract, that heavyweight was converted into the MAZ-101 model, which unfortunately did not end up in mass production.
The flagship offer Neoplana Starliner
and an illegal Chinese copy of Zonda A9
The Belarusian "Neoplan" did not come to life due to the specific rear axle, which turned out to be too complex in design for the then level of technological development of the factory. All the creativity of "Soviet" engineers was used, so a serial model was obtained, which can only be called low-floor (because it is somewhere between standard and low-floor in that respect), and which was called MAZ-103.
It is worth mentioning that this model was only recently withdrawn from the production lines. In total, about ten thousand copies of MAZ 103 were assembled, of which a huge number ended up on the market of neighboring Russia.