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MAN Breaks New Ground With Lion’s Explorer bi-articulated Bus

The MAN Lion’s Explorer bi-articulated bus meets all these criteria

MAN Truck & Bus SA’s Lion Explorer bi-articulated bus is breaking new ground for extra-long articulated buses serving the high-density passenger transport sector, according to the company’s Executive Chairman, Geoff du Plessis. The bus division of MAN Truck & Bus SA, in partnership with its major customer, Buscor, developed the Lion’s Explorer 27m bi-articulated bus-train.

MAN’s innovative 27m Lion’s Explorer bi-articulated bus, which can seat up to 137 pssengers. The 4x2 prime mover with two trailers, each with one axle, ensures an even distribution of mass whilst retaining a four-axle configuration.
MAN’s innovative 27m Lion’s Explorer bi-articulated bus, which can seat up to 137 pssengers. The 4×2 prime mover with two trailers, each with one axle, ensures an even distribution of mass whilst retaining a four-axle configuration.

This combination consists of a prime mover and two trailers. The configuration derives full benefit from new regulation changes, according to which the maximum length of a bus may be increased to 27m, thus permitting buses to convey up to 137 seated passengers. The 4×2 prime mover with two trailers, each with one axle, ensures an even distribution of mass whilst retaining a four-axle configuration.

This efficient solution results in very similar fixed operating costs compared to a single-articulated vehicle – one driver, one driveline, and four axles with the same number of wheels – but accommodating a greater number of seated passengers and therefore improved revenue for the bus operator.

“The core objective of high-density passenger transport is moving more people efficiently, safely, affordably and comfortably. The MAN Lion’s Explorer bi-articulated bus meets all these criteria,” says du Plessis. The extra-long bus-train concept is already in use in certain BRT systems in Latin America, and MAN’s decision to
evaluate this option arose some years ago. In partnership with Buscor, a previous model, a 20m articulated bus-train on a MAN A65 chassis, was split and an additional trailer was added in the centre to create a prototype with a length of 27m.

Special exemption to operate this unit was obtained from the Mpumalanga Department of Transport, through the National Department of Transport, permitting Buscor to operate one unit to test stability and safety.

The special exemption was then extended to a total of 10 units, which are currently in daily operation at Buscor. These units have been monitored by the National Department of Transport and have been homologated by MAN.

The spacious interior of the Lion’s Explorer.
The spacious interior of the Lion’s Explorer.

MAN has increased the power of the drivetrain to handle the higher load resulting from the greater capacity. The development of the new prime mover chassis was undertaken by MAN in Germany, which sees an increase in engine power from 257kW to 287kW (350 – 390HP) on a HB3 4×2 chassis.

The additional articulation has improved the bus-train’s turning radius by 1,5m when compared with the single-articulated models, offering better manoeuvrability and the ability to navigate inner city routes.

The chassis and trailers are fitted with air-suspension for greater occupant comfort, and the TipMatic transmission is standard fitment. For MAN and the bus operator, safety is of the highest priority, and the bus-train is therefore fully compliant with all compulsory Road Traffic safety regulations, including roll-over requirements and seat anchorage stipulations.

The maintenance-free Hübner articulation couplings connecting the units are guaranteed for 10 years. “MAN’s bus division remains the market leader in the local heavy bus sector with a highest-ever 40,6% market share over recent months.

“MAN has sustained existing business with large fleets like Buscor and Golden Arrow Bus Services, which ordered 108 commuter buses last year. MAN is also geared to supply BRT solutions to various municipalities when the time comes.

“The Olifantsfontein bus plant last month celebrated the 5 000th unit coming off its production line. We have also penetrated high-profile fleets, including Great North Transport, Tshwane Bus Services, Mpumalanga Scholar Transport and Maluti Bus Services,” du Plessis said.

 
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Tristan Wiggill
Seasoned writer, journalist, photographer, and editor.
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