Business developments at Daimler Buses in fiscal year 2020 were largely determined by the effects of the pandemic. Under the influence of COVID-19, global bus markets recorded a significant decline of almost 40 percent in 2020 and the core markets of Daimler Buses of 45 percent. The coach segment in all core markets, such as Europe, Brazil and Mexico, was hardest hit due to the cessation of all tourist activities. In the core European market (EU 30: European Union, Norway, Switzerland), the coach market fell by almost 60 percent in 2020 compared to the prior year. A downward trend was also noticeable in the city bus and intercity bus segments. These developments were, of course, reflected in the sales numbers of those business areas. With a good 20,200 complete buses and chassis sold, sales in fiscal year 2020 were almost 40 percent below the strong sales result of the prior year.
Despite these difficult structural conditions, Daimler Buses was able to build on its market leadership in all of its core markets. In 2020 Daimler Buses was once again the undisputed market leader in the EU 30 (European Union, Norway, Switzerland), as well as in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Turkey. Sales in Germany were also satisfactory last year. With a full 3,000 units sold, sales were at the prior-year level. The reason being that the city bus business was a very good.
The situation in bus markets remains tense in 2021
In view of continuing economic uncertainties, Daimler Buses expects the market environment in the bus industry to remain tense in 2021. Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic the situation remains particularly difficult for coach operators. That is also reflected by what are currently very low incoming orders, which are therefore likely to lead to declining sales in the coach segment.
Till Oberwörder, Head of Daimler Buses: “The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the entire bus industry in the past year and the situation in global bus markets will remain tense in 2021 as well. Our broad and worldwide positioning with a comprehensive product portfolio helps us in relation to the countermeasures we have taken, such as maintaining cost discipline. In fiscal year 2021 we will continue to “drive by sight” and remain confident. When the pandemic is behind us people will want to travel again, which will normalize our business. We’re keeping a sharp eye on our future: We continue to invest in our strategic projects such as CO2-neutral mobility. Our goal is to shape the transformation in our industry and to put sustainable and efficient mobility solutions on the road.”
Strengthening global market presence and opening up additional markets
In addition to ongoing initiatives related to the COVID pandemic and countermeasures such as cost reductions, Daimler Buses is keeping its long-term strategic goals well in sight. In order to further improve the earning power and profitability of its business, a declared strategic goal is to maintain and build on market positions in the most important sales regions around the world. Numerous large orders, despite the challenging market situation underscore that this strategy is paying off: In 2020 Daimler Buses was awarded a contract for a total of 415 city and intercity bus units for Israel and 500 city buses for Morocco. Furthermore, the first of a total of 112 intercity buses for Sweden were delivered in December. The bus business expanded its product portfolio in 2020 with the Mercedes-Benz Intouro. This intercity bus is not only more economical in terms of fuel consumption, it is also the first bus from Mercedes-Benz to be equipped with the Active Brake Assist 5, or ABA 5 in short. Daimler Buses also recently launched the new OF 1621 bus chassis in the Brazilian market. It was specifically developed for charter use, i.e., passenger transport.
With its Regional Centers (RC) Daimler Buses is expanding its global market presence, as it is doing in Asia. The objective is to take advantage of growth opportunities offered by bus markets in Southeast Asia. After entering the market in 2020, Daimler Buses is delivering coach chassis to Vietnam for the first time this year. These are produced in the Sámano (Spain) plant and provided with a body by local partner THACO. In Taiwan, new coach chassis will be delivered in March.
Following the establishment of the new company Daimler Coaches North America (DCNA) at the beginning of last year, Daimler Buses is currently also realigning its business in the U.S. and Canada with an expanding range of services and expanded spare parts logistics. Through an independent sales network — and thanks to good cooperation with Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA), along with the use of the Detroit Diesel Corporation aftersales network — Daimler Buses will make the best of opportunities offered by the North American touring coach market.
COVID-19 retrofit solutions for customers and buses for new applications that contribute to fighting pandemics
In order to protect its customers and, therefore, bus drivers and passengers from being infected with the corona viruses in pandemics, Daimler Buses has developed numerous retrofit solutions for hygiene and infection protection. The portfolio includes, for example, protective driver doors with a partition, sensor-controlled dispensers for disinfectants and antiviral high-performance particle filters. These filter the finest aerosols in an air exchange that takes place every two minutes via the standard air conditioning in coaches.
Together with various partners, Daimler Buses has also developed buses for new purposes. In Baden-Württemberg, for example, the German Red Cross has had a Mercedes-Benz Citaro equipped with four intensive care units for the transfer of COVID-19 patients for ten months now. A second transport bus was ordered at the beginning of the year by the Baden-Wuerttemberg Ministry for Social Affairs and Integration for use in the state. In addition, a Setra brand low-entry intercity bus is in use as a mobile test station at schools, nursing homes and companies. An omnibus that functions as a mobile vaccination station is also in the works. Delivery is planned for the end of March. This is intended to provide flexible support for vaccination centers across Germany.
Driving electrification of CO2-neutral passenger transport forward at full speed
Daimler Buses is already making an important contribution to promoting the mobility transformation in the bus mobility field. The clear goal is to ensure sustainable, CO2-neutral public transport. The first step in this direction was taken back in 2018 with the Mercedes-Benz eCitaro. More than two years after its market launch, Daimler Buses will continue to forge its technology path. In the future, as previously announced, experience gained in customer use will be incorporated here. Daimler Buses has different E-bus variants, battery technologies and charging options in the market for the many different customer application scenarios. The eCitaro is currently available with up to twelve lithium-ion battery packs and, as of this year, is also available with the next generation of lithium-ion batteries.
In 2020 Daimler Buses launched the new Mercedes-Benz eCitaro articulated bus and the new solid-state battery. One advantage of solid-state batteries is their greater range and longevity. In the next announced step, Daimler Buses is launching the eCitaro with a fuel cell as a range extender. Because customer support and consulting is crucial for the long-term success of electromobility in local public transport, Daimler Buses will continue to expand its eMobility Consulting service in the future.
In addition to the electrification of its fleet, Daimler Buses is working on further reducing the CO2 emissions of future generations of vehicles. Daimler Buses’ goal of reducing fuel consumption in coaches and city buses by more than 18 tons and by 20 percent from 2005 to 2020 was 90 percent achieved for touring coaches and 100 percent for city buses – the latter thanks in large part to the introduction of the Mercedes-Benz Citaro hybrid.
Transformation of the bus industry through digital services and targeted partnerships
Daimler Buses seeks to increase the operational safety of its fleet and thereby its efficiency by expanding its digital service offerings. For example, Daimler Buses’ “Omniplus On” portal bundles and integrates all digital services. In 2020 Daimler Buses worked on expanding its range and optimizing it for customers. The “Omniplus On SignalStore” service provides customers with data packages with which they can save and process historical and real-time data points directly from their vehicles to their own system via vehicle data interfaces. Daimler Buses is currently working on making its telematics services usable for third-party makes.
By means of strategically meaningful and targeted partnerships, such as with IVU Traffic Technologies AG, Daimler Buses also looks to develop new business areas in the field of mobility solutions that contribute to the transformation of the bus industry. Together, we will promote the use of electrically powered buses in public transport. In November 2020 Daimler Buses and IVU won the first full e-mobility project, which is currently being implemented.
Source: Daimler Buses