|MAN Truck & Bus Korea President Max Burger poses in front of the company’s newly introduced city bus model, the MAN Lion’s City CNG premium bus, during the Seoul International Motor Show held at KINTEX in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, April 7. / Courtesy of MAN Truck & Bus Korea|
By Jhoo Dong-chan
MAN Truck & Bus Korea sold 1,545 commercial vehicles last year, up 36 percent from a year earlier and up 450 percent from 2011. It was a record high since the company entered the Korean market in 2001.
Buoyed by its success, the vehicle maker also invested $10 million to build its Korean headquarters and service center in the Gyeonggi Province city of Yongin, which were completed last month.
Despite its stellar performances in recent years, MAN Truck & Bus Korea President Max Burger said it faces another obstacle in introducing new bus models here — government regulations.
“The Korean government’s regulations on bus size discourage foreign bus makers from introducing their new bus models in Korea,” Burger said.
“Under the regulation, the width of the nation’s city bus is limited to 250 centimeters in Korea, 5 centimeters narrower than European standards. MAN Truck & Bus had to establish another production line in Spain to satisfy the nation’s regulation in the width of the city bus. It raises the production cost.”
MAN Truck & Bus introduced its first city bus models during the Seoul International Motor Show at KINTEX in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, held between March 30 and April 9. Four models, including the MAN Lion’s City CNG premium bus, were unveiled but they were not exactly the same model the German commercial vehicle maker sells in the European market.
Because of the regulation in width, MAN Truck & Bus established a new production line in Spain only for the body frame and chassis for its city bus models for the Korean market. Burger said the end price for the four models would have been much cheaper if the width regulation matched Europe’s.
Despite its bus models’ comparably higher price, MAN Truck & Bus Korea has already sold 100 buses so far in the Korean market.
A company official said their buses are expected to hit Korean streets this year.
“The initial price could be a bit more expensive than other bus models in the market. Considering its maintenance expenses and fuel efficiency costs, however, our models will offset the initial price in the long term.”
It also introduced a tour bus last year, but this is the first time for the commercial vehicle maker to introduce a city bus model here.