I’ve been enthusiastic about buses ever since I began to work at EvoBus. Here we’ve got a good work atmosphere, great colleagues, and a feeling that this is more than just a job. And of course, great products. But wait a moment…
On reflection, I realize that I see many buses every day on my way to my workstation at our plant in Neu-Ulm, as well as everywhere in the streets, wherever I go. But could I ever drive a bus myself? Of course not. UNTIL NOW, THAT IS! Could I just go ahead and do it?
On October 18, I really did receive this opportunity. In knew that in just a few minutes my long-cherished wish would come true: Finally I’d be able to drive a bus myself. At last I’d have the opportunity to drive and to test our products, to which I’ve wholeheartedly devoted years of work.
This dream of mine was fulfilled by a dedicated EvoBus team that personally took the initiative and enabled me and 299 other colleagues to drive our latest models on a former military training area in Münsingen. There were touring coaches, city buses, and even electric buses — and I was allowed to sit behind the wheel of whichever ones I wanted. What does it feel like to drive a steel giant that’s up to 21 meters long, all by myself? You can find out by reading my “test report” below.
Setra S 515 HD
Length: 12.3 meters, height: 3.8 meters, seats (as standard): 51, gross vehicle weight: 18 tons; power output: 315 kW (428 hp) (as standard)
The first bus I drove was the Setra S 515 HD. Of course I initially drove a bit slower than usual, because I first needed to get an overview of this Comfort Class touring coach with a length of 12.3 meters and a height of 3.8 meters.
But everything went very smoothly, thanks to the mirrors, which enabled me to easily estimate how far I was from the side of the road. As a result, I gradually drove faster and faster. I felt completely comfortable sitting in the cockpit. It simply radiates top quality and offers an optimal overview as well as logical operating systems. Whether it’s the cruise control, the radio, or the numerous assistance systems, everything could be optimally controlled by means of the modern multifunctional steering wheel.
Length: 21 meters; height: 3.1 meters; seats (as standard): 45; gross vehicle weight: 32 tons; power output: 265 kW (360 hp) (as standard)
The next model I drove was the CapaCity L. Wow — I noticed immediately that this model is several sizes longer than the Setra S 515 HD. It’s 21 meters long, so you have to really pay attention when you’re taking a curve. The CapaCity L, which has room for 191 passengers as standard, appealed to me especially because it can be steered more directly. In my opinion, it accelerates better than the Setra, thanks to its power output of 360 hp.
But the better acceleration might simply have been due to my own foot and my growing self-confidence. In any case, the Articulation Turntable Controller (ATC) driving dynamics ensured ideal steering behavior, as well as high stability and great maneuverability on the road.
Length: 12.1 meters; height: 3.4 meters; seats (as standard): 29; gross vehicle weight: 20 tons; power output: 250 kW (340 hp) (as standard)
Before the lunch break, I was also allowed to drive our brand-new all-electric and zero-emission eCitaro. I definitely wanted to test it. And I can tell you that it’s fantastic! It moves super-smoothly, and it’s really fun to take the curves in this city bus, which is 12.1 meters long and 3.4 meters high.
I was struck by the fact that the eCitaro always accelerates with the same dynamism. That prevents unnecessary energy consumption and also ensures a driving style that’s comfortable for the passengers. You can hardly hear the engine noise. If you do hear anything, it’s only the “typical” driving noises such as seats rattling or tires squealing.
The design is also top-class: The eCitaro harmoniously combines the tried and tested classic look of a city bus with the futuristic design language of tomorrow’s bus generations. It was a really great experience!
Setra S 531 DT
Length: 14 meters, height: 4 meters, seats (as standard): 83; gross vehicle weight: 26 tons; power output: 375 kW (509 hp) (as standard)
“Whoa, am I about to tip over?” This question shot through my mind the first time I took a curve in this double-deck touring coach from the Setra TopClass, which is 14 meters long and 4 meters high. After the relatively low city buses, of course this too initially required a huge adjustment.
The touring coaches generally have softer steering than the city buses, but you get used to that as well. In any case, “cruising” in this double-deck touring coach, which has a power output of 510 hp and seats 83 passengers, was one of the highlights of the day!
Safety Coach (Tourismo M/2)
Length: 13.1 meters, height: 3.7 meters, seats (as standard): 55; gross vehicle weight: 19.5 tons; power output: 265 kW (360 hp) (as standard)
Stylish, modern, and full of safety systems — that’s the short description of the Mercedes-Benz Safety Coach. This bright-yellow Tourismo M/2 bus is a real eye-catcher, not only because of its outward appearance but also because it has a lot to offer from a technical perspective. The high-powered OM 470 engine, which is available at power outputs between 360 and 394 hp, combines high driving dynamics and low energy consumption.
On top of that, the Safety Coach is also a pleasure to drive. We were allowed to try out many new assistance systems, such as the ABA 4 and the Sideguard Assist. That’s always a thrill, whether you’re sitting and watching or driving the bus yourself.
Setra S 516 HDH
Length: 13.3 meters, height: 3.9 meters, seats (as standard): 55, gross vehicle weight: 24.75 tons, power output: 350 kW (476 hp) (as standard)
Last but not least, I drove the “queen” of touring coaches: the Setra S 516 HDH. Let me tell you, this TopClass bus, which is 13.3 meters long and 3.9 meters high, lived up to its promises! That began with the position of the driver’s seat. It’s located at a height of 1.07 meters, which is considerably higher than in the other touring coaches. That enables you to look down regally from on high — like a queen.
I was also allowed to try out some of the driving assistance systems, such as the Lane Assistant. It’s very impressive to see how the bus stays in its lane after you take your hands off the wheel.
Even after driving six buses in seven hours, I felt that the day was unfortunately over much too soon. I think that both Mercedes-Benz and Setra can look back on an impressive history and a great course of development, and that all of us have benefited greatly from the connection between these two brands.
The idea of staging this kind of event is fantastic. I think it’s incredibly important to give employees the opportunity to experience our products personally. And I believe that everyone who participated in this event will go to work with a completely different perspective in the future.
I’d like to send a big “thank you” to the Leadership 2020 team at the Daimler Buses base camp, which granted me and 299 other employees an unforgettable experience. I hope events of this kind will be offered in the future as well, so that even more colleagues have an opportunity to experience our products at first hand.