Until Corona came, it seemed to be a lucrative market: buses have been ordered on a large scale in recent years. In travel, because new rail operators competed. In the cities, because they invested in local transport and switched to more economical drives. Daimler’s bus division also benefited from this trend; in 2019, sales grew by six percent to 32,600 vehicles.
Now the industry is facing a hole, especially since the second corona wave is still to come. “Overall, the market has gone down by around 50 percent,” said Till Oberwörder, CEO of Daimler Buses, in the new episode of the podcast “Zero Hour”. In the second quarter, sales in the bus division slumped by 63 percent. “We’ve had a certain rollercoaster ride behind us.” Orders for coaches have collapsed. After all, the public sector continues to put out contracts for regular buses.
There is only one problem: Many people fear the danger posed by the virus and avoid bus journeys. Manufacturers such as Daimler are therefore working on technical ideas and converting the buses. Active filters are installed in the ventilation, sensor-controlled dispensers deliver disinfectants and separating discs protect the driver. Oberwörfer’s message: It’s safe to travel by bus.
In addition, the head of the Daimler division believes that buses are safer than closed spaces such as offices anyway: “With public buses, the door to get in and out opens every few hundred meters, and the air is automatically exchanged,” said Oberwörder. It is these circumstances on which he is building his hopes for the coming months, as is the image change of the buses due to the expansion of public transport: “Buses have gained a bit of sex appeal over the years,” he said. Better vehicles, but also new drive technologies would have changed the image.
However, there is still a long way to go for the carmaker’s bus division. Many employees are still on short-time work, orders are only slowly picking up again, and the industry is going through a radical change. You are currently driving “on sight”, said Oberwörder.
Now listen to the new episode of “Die Null”,
- why there could be many hydrogen buses in the future,
- how Daimler is researching antiviral surfaces,
- why Daimler has developed an extra Corona sticker.
You can find the new episode of “Die Hour Null” directly at Audio Now, Apple or Spotify or via Google.