25 years ago, on February 23, 1995, the two European bus brands Mercedes-Benz and Setra created a strategic alliance. It marked the beginning of the successful bus business of Daimler Buses. Today, the company is represented far beyond the borders of Europe with its maintenance offering and advisory services, and is also known for the contribution it is making to creating efficient and sustainable mobility solutions.
From bumpy beginnings to a bright future
The merger of the Mercedes-Benz Buses product area, then part of Mercedes-Benz AG, and the Setra bus brand of the former Karl Kässbohrer Fahrzeugwerke GmbH vehicle works was, however, anything but smooth. As Mercedes-Benz and Setra were both leaders in the bus sector, political and cartel-relevant hurdles had to be overcome. For fear of the fusion failing, the people of the Ulm/Neu-Ulm region protested peacefully on February 1, 1995 in a show of support for the merger. At the end of February, the time had come: The Mercedes star and the Kässbohrer "K" joined forces – and the EvoBus GmbH brand was born. The brand has 14 subsidiaries in countries like France, Spain, Italy and Belgium which are responsible for the European operations of Daimler Buses. Besides EvoBus GmbH, which is the market leader in core markets of Europe, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, a number of bus manufacturing plants and relevant national sales organizations around the world also form part of the Daimler Buses business area.
Innovative and technological leadership in tomorrow's mobility solutions
The business area is keeping a close eye on the future requirements in the field of bus mobility: in developing locally emission-free drive systems and networked vehicles, Daimler Buses is contributing to making traffic in our cities and conurbations not only more efficient but also more environmentally friendly. The technological and innovative leadership role of the company isn't just underlined by the development of the fully-electric Mercedes-Benz eCitaro urban bus manufactured in series production at the Mannheim plant, but also by the fact that these vehicles are now already on the road all over Europe. With solutions tailored to local requirements, the products of the Mercedes-Benz, Setra and Bharat Benz brands, as well as the proximity of their sales and service network to the customers provided further opportunities for growth in emerging markets around the world. In order to create the basis for sustainable and profitable growth, the production network has been continuously developed over the past years.
Production network: a supporting pillar since 1995
Already at the time of EvoBus GmbH being established, it was part of the strategic aims to have all European production locations working in a highly flexible and efficient unison. A major initial milestone along the way to achieving this was the establishment of the production network between the Mannheim (Germany) and the Ligny-en-Barrois (France) and Ulm/Neu-Ulm (Germany) plants. Built for the provision of parts, Spain's Sámano plant was added to the EvoBus network in 1998 before being followed in 1999 by the Holýšov (Czech Republic) plant. This European network is supplemented by production locations in Latin America, India, Indonesia and South Africa. Further important components in the network are the minibus plant in Dortmund and the Hoşdere (near Istanbul, Turkey) location which is presently part of Mercedes-Benz Türk A.Ş.
The Omniplus service brand and used buses from BusStore
Already in 1996, one year after the fusion took place, the Omniplus service brand was created and given the responsibility for ensuring all after-sales activities of the two bus brands. The basis for Omniplus was formed by the already successful customer service offering of both brands. Today, Omniplus draws on a service network of more than 650 workshops in 42 countries around Europe and provides bus-specific services, genuine replacement parts, efficient training courses and a range of innovative digital services from a single source.
The fourth and youngest brand to join the family was BusStore in September 2013. BusStore comprises all activities concerning used buses. With its yearly turnover of around 2,000 buses, EvoBus has also now become the biggest provider of used buses across Europe. BusStore has a total of 24 locations. They are mostly located in the same places as the large Omniplus service outlets.
125 years of bus building: successful collaboration a long time ahead of the merger
On March 18, 1895 and thus 100 years before the fusion of the two brands took place, Carl Benz released the world's first motorized bus on the market – the Benz Patent-Motorwagen-Omnibus with a total of eight seats. For Karl Kässbohrer, whose coach-building business was just two years old at the time, the developments of the day formed the basis for his business idea: building luxury-class vehicles. 15 years later, the Karl Kässbohrer vehicle works supplied Daimler, among other things, with coaches and landaulet bodies. A close relationship between Mercedes-Benz and Kässbohrer over several decades before the merger took place formed the basis for the subsequent success story that was to result from the fusion. And the success isn't just founded on the great products of both brands but also on the vast ingenuity of the two partners. The Kässbohrer brand brought with it such innovations as the self-supporting body design, the so-called "selbsttragende Bauweise" from which Setra draws its name. Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz buses benefited from access to groundbreaking technologies from Daimler's research department. Up to the present day, the innovative spirit and the great experience of the teams at both brands continue to have a truly positive effect on the further development of the business.