MAN Truck & Bus look to the future with electric

At a recent meeting at the MAN Truck & Bus headquarters in Swindon England, the executive board from Germany paid a visit and took the opportunity to outline their 2023 financials as well as their decarbonisation strategy almost entirely based around battery electric offerings.

Alexander Vlaskamp the company CEO, explained they had achieved a turnover of €14.8bn ( of which around €3bn was after-sales related) and production figures reached 116,000 in 2023. When it comes to battery electric trucks (BET), Alexander confirmed they had orders for 1500 units including 150 orders for the eTGX.

He also mentioned the challenges of transitioning from diesel to zero tailpipe emission trucks, and this was firmly placed at the feet of the grid / electric infrastructure ( DNO’s), and the politicians who ‘are key’ to unblocking the transition, but its important to note this was not solely aimed at the UK but Europe as a whole. One area of interest was the call for some form of carbon taxing or making diesel more expensive to help the TCO calculations, and he is not alone in this suggestion, it will be interesting to see if we eventually go down this route.

Friedrich-W.Baumann is a member of the MAN executive board responsible for sales (CSO) who spent many years at Daimler and then another Traton Group company Navistar in the US, until making the trip across the pond to MAN and Europe. He was keen to highlight the breadth of product available form the MAN product team from light commercials vehicles, trucks, buses and coaches and pointed to the fact around 60/70% of tenders they receive are for zero emission product, mainly in the bus sector. Like many other manufacturers they see the development of an eMobility team with consultants happy to engage with customers to understand their operation as a key to success helping them assess whether transitioning to battery electric makes sense at this moment or not.

Finally, Stefan Thyssen, Managing Director of UK operation, explained the UK is MAN’s third largest market so plays a significant role in their plans, and 2023 was their best year and demo battery electric trucks would start appearing in early 2025 with first customer units mid-2025.

Friedrich-W.Baumann Stefan Thyssen Alexander Vlaskamp

The dealer network stands at 66 of after-sales and 24 are sales outlets but they are looking to expand this as their market share is 8.5% and they have ambitions to increase this in the coming years. He wished that government would take more interest in the road transport industry and offer a bit more clarity to help operators looking to make the switch to battery electric trucks. The consultation document on weights and dimensions as well as Longer Semi-Trailers (LST) clarification would help and yet again a call for subsidy / support for carbon pricing or make diesel more expensive to help the financials stack up for BET.

Stefan also picked up on Friedrich comment that MAN are also rolling out a number of battery repair centres across Europe and announced the UK would also be included in this initiative helping to provide greater after-sales backup should batteries need a strip down.

But there was an elephant in the room, for throughout presentation outlining the solution for zero tailpipe trucks there was no official mention of hydrogen until it came to the Q&A section, and whilst the group believed hydrogen as a gas was definitely a potential player it appeared running ‘purer’ hydrogen through a fuel cell didn’t get a lot of votes from the combined executive team but it wasn’t completely ruled out!

Generally the team were upbeat about the MAN product offering but unlike diesel products, its not in their hands, as infrastructure and politicians have to ensure they create the right fiscal and operational environment for this to become a success – but that’s another story !!

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