An intercity bus series in four lengths. Two project managers with a combined 37 years of bus/touring coach experience. This article about the new Setra MultiClass 500 is not just about impressive figures, but also about a lot of passion.
With twice the passion.
Developing the Setra MultiClass 500 required more than just technical expertise.
No less than two project managers attended the premiere of the first model. Tobias Ell was responsible for developing the MultiClass 500 in Neu-Ulm and now that the new low-entry model is transitioning to its next phase, the baton is being passed to his colleague, Etken Ires, also a developer but based at the Hosdere plant in Turkey.
Tobias Ell: "Colleagues in Turkey have already taken on a significant chunk of the development work. At Daimler Buses, we already implement cross-border working processes so the team meets regularly online."
As a result, 37 years of combined bus/touring coach experience from both project managers put together, pay off. But that's not all, as Ires adds: "cooperation with Tobias was characterised by a shared passion for the MultiClass 500 project. It goes without saying that there is a lot of technology and engineering in the vehicle, but also a great deal of attention to detail."
Development over three years.
Development of the new intercity bus started three years ago. Although the Setra has little in common with its predecessor model, there is a lot in common, especially at the rear, with the high-floor counterpart, the Mercedes-Benz Intouro, the development of which started shortly beforehand. Ultimately, the vehicle's concept didn't start from a blank sheet of paper. "the was an outline sketch" effuses Ires.
An appealing intercity bus in four lengths has been developed from this outline sketch. "Thanks to its cost-effectiveness and versatility, the MultiClass 500 meets typical tender criteria for the price-sensitive, low-entry segment," Ell says, adding "Setra is a synonym for customisation, we meet any customer requirements." Even those relating to a low-floor city bus. "We now have the first Setra Low Entry with city bus genes," Ires stresses. The new MultiClass 500 – much more than an intercity bus.
This is evident at first glance. "The new design is a real eye-catcher," says Tobias Ell, delighted with the front-end design in the style of Setra touring coaches, full LED lighting and the extravagant side view with the striking division into low and high-floor areas.
“The new low entry model must be able to do it all, that was our declared goal.”
Diversity that inspires.
Ires immediately mentions its practical advantages: "we now offer many more door variants." Single and double doors, optionally a third door for all model variants, plus "all three door variants, inward-swinging and outward-swinging doors as well as swing/sliding doors".
The new MultiClass 500 in the low-entry variant welcomes its visitors with an additional kneeling capability. Ell points to the driver’s workplace: "there are three different cockpits, the particularly high-quality Basic and Basic City and, for the first time, the VDV cockpit." Once again, it is the variable intercity bus that doubles up as a full-fledged city bus if needed and easily integrates into existing fleets.
This is also demonstrated by looking at the passenger area with its exceptionally variable equipment. Platforms, platforms left or right, no platforms. In that case, wheelchair users can even get in at the front and reach the dedicated wheelchair space. Other passengers have the seating matching the deployment profile of the MultiClass at their disposal. From lightweight seat shells with cantilever seat frames and no seat base in the low-floor segment, to classic intercity seats and comfortable touring coach seating. Plenty of headroom or luggage racks above.
"The new low entry model must be able to do it all, that was our declared goal," Tobias Ell emphasises. Or, as Etken Ires puts it: "our customers are completely free in their decisions about variants and equipment."
“We now have the first Setra Low Entry with city bus genes.”
Equipment with added value.
This also applies to the drive, which is evident from a look under the engine compartment flap. This is where tried-and-tested, low-emission diesel engines have been installed. Plus the particularly economical hybrid variant, ideal for routes with many stops. Everything has been linked to a wide variety of transmissions – that’s all you need.
The same can be said about the assistance systems. Tobias Ell lists the Driver Score driving style assistant as well as Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC). The anticipatory cruise control is now also familiar with country roads, decelerates automatically ahead of roundabouts, sharp bends or intersections, and when approaching built-up areas. "PPC makes life easier for drivers and is particularly important for fleet operators," Ell recommends. His colleague adds the Preventive Brake Assist 2 active brake assistant and the Sideguard Assist turning assistant. Both perfect for route operation – safety and Setra, that’s one thing. Is there anything else to mention? Tobias Ell remembers that "the 360° camera system increases comfort and safety". And the electronic parking brake is "a real safety gain."
Setra also means quality. Etken Ires points this out by indicating narrow and uniform gap dimensions even on the very first model. "Our team is looking forward to the new model series." The first BIW was built at the Hosdere plant along with four prototypes. Six pre-series vehicles are planned before the start of series production in summer. They will be critically tested by Sales and After Sales through the eyes of customers. Ires: "After Sales was involved at an early stage so that we were able to deal with any feedback." This also included feedback on the predecessor.
The typical endurance tests in line with Daimler Buses’ extensive test catalogue are due before the start of series production. However, even later on, in series production, each individual specimen is thoroughly checked before delivery: climate chamber test, leak test involving a simulation of extreme precipitation, test drives with trained team members. Ell: "the new Setra MultiClass 500 LE is not like a banana that will only ripe in customers' hands." Our team consists of highly skilled experts working experience and passion. You can already see and feel it on the premiere model.