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July 10 2019
By Tim Deakin

Tim is Editor of routeone and has worked in both the coach and bus and haulage industries.

Safety items at the heart of MAN's coach range

Driver and safety aids are at the core of MAN’s coach range. There are three separate products, and all will be available on the Neoplan Tourliner in the UK ahead of a wholesale overhaul planned for 2025

Rear-view camera displays on A-pillars and 360image is on dash screen

Technology to benefit safety, rather than electric or hybrid drivelines, is at the heart of MAN’s strategy for the Neoplan coach range ahead of a wholesale revamp scheduled for 2025.

While still distant, that overhaul will be major. It will see the adoption of a standard chassis for the whole MAN and Neoplan coach range, including the latter’s Skyliner double-decker.

Whether doing so will permit the addition of further models in right-hand drive remains to be seen, although the dealership here hopes that it will. For now, the Neoplan Tourliner is destined to remain MAN’s only complete coach offering in the UK. It will take advantage of three safety developments.

Rear-view cameras are christened

MAN is pressing on with its rear-view camera option, christened OptiView. It says it will be the first coach manufacturer to have such a product when OptiView enters production in 2020.

That’s later than first hoped, but the delay is because a second generation of software has been developed to address some minor concerns identified during testing. Images from the external cameras are processed by the software before they are presented to the driver.

The positioning of the internal displays – which are the same aspect as conventional mirrors and include both standard and wide-angle views – will also be modified slightly. That will see the driver need to turn their head to the same position as they would in a mirror-equipped coach.

In the UK, MAN says that OptiView will be available on built-to-order Tourliners from Q3 2020. It will also be suitable for retrofit. At least one customer has signalled its intention to take that up. As already revealed, a demonstrator will receive the equipment for operators to try before they buy.

While the camera system is more expensive than mirrors, MAN says that it brings benefits. Not only does that refer to a reduced potential for damage, but the removal of a significant source of drag will lead to improved fuel economy.

Images from the rear-view cameras are processed prior to display in cab

A bird’s eye view, too

The second driver aid is a 360-degree bird’s eye camera system. It is available both to specify now on new coaches and for retrofit to existing Tourliners.

routeone was able to drive a tri-axle Cityliner with the bird’s eye cameras. Although the system may sound complicated, it is actually remarkably simple. It is also useful when manoeuvring in confined spaces.

Six cameras are fitted at the roof line. Two are on each side, where they are installed in the same manner and positions that downlights are on some coaches. Additionally, one is at each of the front and the rear.

Collectively, the feeds from these cameras are collated to generate an image on an iPad-sized screen on the dash. It is in full colour, but the coach is presented at a smaller scale to objects around it.

As an example, a person standing at the extreme rear is easily visible on the screen. Because of that, it is particularly useful in situations where tailswing could be a concern. The screen deactivates above around 18mph.

Pedestrian detection

Last of the safety developments is a pedestrian detection system. It acts passively, issuing audible and visual warnings; it does not apply the brakes automatically. As with the other two developments, MAN in the UK plans to fit one of its Tourliner demonstrators with comprehensive pedestrian detection. The system is also retrofit-capable.

When specified by customers, it is available in two formats. That’s because warnings for each side and to the front are issued separately. In base form it comes with frontal and nearside alerting, and offside can be added if desired.

Neoplan Tourliner is destined to remain MAN’s core coach product in UK

For each side, a phone-sized unit is mounted on the A-pillar. When a pedestrian is detected, an image of a human illuminates within it. The frontal warning is less conspicuous, being made up of a circular unit that is on the dashboard.

UK: Business as usual

As MAN prepares for Busworld in Brussels, the message from its UK dealership is that it is business as usual. The Tourliner remains its primary product but it also continues its relationships with other suppliers as a chassis partner.

That element of its business now includes the nine-litre D15 engine. It will make its UK coach debut in an RR8 with a MOBIpeople Explorer body. The D15 will not appear in the Tourliner; that model will remain powered only by the 12.4-litre D26.

The Tourliner has now gained ZF’s Traxon gearbox as its automated manual option, and several such coaches are in stock at Trafford Park.

Additionally, it is believed that a fix has been found for an issue that precluded the relocation of the TGE van’s AdBlue tank from the passenger doorway. When completed, the change will allow the conversion of front-entrance minicoaches to begin.

While MAN continues to make progress with safety and driver aids, it remains to be seen whether 2025’s overhaul of the coach range brings a greater choice for UK buyers. But it certainly cannot be ruled out.

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