April 2021

Mercedes-Benz Hosdere plant: Closer to home than you think

first_imgMost successful everOn display at Stuttgart was the 10,000th example of the second generation Tourismo sold, which further demonstrates the importance of the HoÅŸdere plant to Daimler’s worldwide bus presence. It is a 14m tri-axle Tourismo L, a variant not available in the UK.“That makes the Tourismo the best-selling touring coach of all time,” says Ulrich Bastert, Head of Marketing, Sales and Aftersales. He adds that the Tourismo offers “maximum comfort at minimum cost,” also revealing that “extendible, high-comfort” head restraints similar to those fitted to aeroplane seats are now available on the model.UK operators are able to order only a small percentage of the Daimler Buses range, and they unfortunately miss out on some very impressive products. It is nevertheless heartening to hear of such confidence from the manufacturer’s senior management team, and promises of further improvements in the future. Going places“80% of our employees at HoÅŸdere have professional further education qualifications, while further training in the various specialist disciplines is a natural step for the workforce,” says Harmut.The Turkish plant employs around 3,300 people and produces 16 coaches and buses per day, up from 533 and six respectively two decades ago. 2015’s total output is expected to be around 4,500 units, and today’s buyers demand the highest standards. Many other manufacturers are waiting in the wings to hoover up Mercedes-Benz customers if the product doesn’t come up to scratch.That is recognised by the German organisation, and it has spent heavily on HoÅŸdere. “We have invested over €300m in our plant here,” says Director Bus Production and Plant Manager Dr Martin Walz.“In our latest project, we extended our capabilities in the body shop significantly. Now we have more than 950 welding jigs, more than 350 welding machines and more than 50 CNC machines such as punch, laser, bending and milling apparatus.“We also extended the paint shop massively, and built an extra pair of paint lines for dcor and underbody protection.”HoÅŸdere’s research and development capabilities are extensive, and they support Mercedes-Benz’s other European operations in this respect. Equally impressive are the pre-paint preparation facilities, where all body shells are subject to extensive anti-corrosion protection prior to admission to the finishing booths.Completed Tourismos bound for Western Europe are shipped from Ä°stanbul to Trieste in Italy, before continuing by road. Last week was busy for Daimler Buses. It marked 20 years of its Istanbul plant before staging a Busworld Kortrijk preview in Stuttgart. Hosdere, where the Tourismo is built, is a German assembly plant in all but name. Tim Deakin explains.Mercedes-Benz Turk’s HoÅŸdere plant, near Ä°stanbul, is on the cusp of Asia, but it is becoming ever more relevant to operators throughout Europe. One of its five products is the Tourismo, and distributor EvoBus expects to register around 190 in the UK during 2015.HoÅŸdere is a young plant. It was opened in June 1995 and in the 20 years since has built over 75,000 coaches and buses.While Mercedes-Benz products have a justifiable reputation for quality, any operator who may turn up their nose at the prospect of a Turkish coach is likely to change that opinion should they have the opportunity to see the scale of operations in HoÅŸdere.“Two thirds of the coaches and buses produced in HoÅŸdere are exported, to Europe and both the Near and Middle East,” says Hartmut Schick, Head of Daimler Buses and CEO of EvoBus GmbH. “The facility is a highly significant player in our European production system.”HoÅŸdere is a hive of activity, and Tourismos coming down the production line are prominent among its other products, none of which are available in the UK. It’s a German assembly plant in all but location and language.Employees are disciplined, facilities are excellent and quality control is strict. A walk around the huge production area clearly demonstrates why coaches built in countries with lower labour costs are becoming prominent in the UK market. HoÅŸdere proves that it is no longer just Western European plants which can turn out a quality, reliable and long-lasting coach.center_img Engine developments?HoÅŸdere assembles coaches and buses from raw materials, although mechanical units are shipped from Germany for installation in Turkey as part of this build process.For Tourismo production, that includes the 10.7-litre Euro 6 OM 470 engine. At an event in Stuttgart the following day (3 September), it was announced that the OM 470 will soon be ‘tweaked’ slightly to enhance fuel consumption.Its bigger brother, the 12.8-litre OM 471, which is not offered in a PCV application in the UK, has recently received a significant reworking. It includes alterations to its injection system, revised air charging equipment, a higher compression ratio and addition of a unique EGR control, says Gustav Tuschen, Head of Product Engineering.This work has delivered a 4% reduction in costs for diesel and AdBlue. It is “efficiency at its best,” he says, and torque delivery at sub-1,000rpm engine speeds has also been improved.When questioned if the OM 470 would receive a similar upgrade, Gustav’s answer is guarded. “It will be developed, but not to the same extent as to OM 471,” he says, adding that lower volumes dictate that more wholesale alterations cannot be justified for the OM 470.Nevertheless, the prospect of an even better OM 470 will be of interest to UK operators of the Tourismo. Constant improvement is the name of the game for Daimler Buses, says Hartmut, but experience of the unit in a tri-axle Tourismo M showed that even in its earliest iteration it is a highly flexible unit.Mercedes-Benz’s Euro 6 range is firmly established and the manufacturer has gained extensive experience of the technology. “We have delivered almost 14,000 Euro 6 coaches and buses, and we are constantly working on becoming better,” adds Hartmut.last_img read more

NI consults on minibuses

first_imgFollowing the lead from the Department for Transport (DfT) in London, the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) in Northern Ireland is consulting about minibuses permits and driving licences.Under the Transport Act (NI) 1967 anyone who provides transport for hire or reward is required to hold an O-Licence. A section 10B permit provides an O-Licence exemption, where the service is provided for the community on a non-profit basis.It is proposed to change 10B permit eligibility and to align the licensing system, with the requirements of Regulation (EC) No 1071/2009 of the European Parliament (21 October 2009).Says the DfI: “Although policy development in relation to the O-Licencing regime has been ongoing for a number of years, recent DVSA investigations into the activities of an English Section 19 permit holder highlighted the need for the DfI to clarify the obligations for all those seeking to provide passenger transport in Northern Ireland.”In particular, the revised guidance will affect paid drivers who will no longer be able to drive a minibus on a D1 (101) licence and will require a full minibus driving licence and Driver CPC. Some ‘volunteers’ will also be affected as the guidance indicates that anyone who drives as a consequence of their employment should hold a full minibus licence and DCPC.The consultations close on 17 NovemberConsultations at: www.infrastructure-ni.gov.uk/consultations/consultations-proposed-changes-section-10b-permits-and-guidance-minibus-drivinglast_img read more

New accounting scheme for CPT members

first_imgCPT has launched a new accounting and business scheme for members that is specially designed for the coach and bus industry.The scheme is to be delivered by RSM UK and will be able to offer, at preferential rates to CPT members, advice on a range of services including: succession planning; mergers, acquisitions and sales; tax planning; VAT – including TOMs; restructuring; business review and financing; and consulting.CPT Chief Executive, Graham Vidler, says: “In an ever-changing business environment, this new partnership will enable members to access the necessary accounting and business advice to help drive their continued success and financial profitability.“With offices right across the UK our members will have the benefit of local business understanding provided within the framework of a national organisation”RSM Client Relationship Partner, Stephen Braham, adds: “I am delighted that we have entered into this commercial partnership with CPT, a forward-thinking organisation which puts the needs of their members at the forefront of their activities.”last_img read more

Budget draws mixed response from trade bodies and Go-Ahead

first_imgChancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget, delivered on 3 March, has generated a mixed response from trade bodies and a large bus group, with Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) Chief Executive Graham Vidler criticising Mr Sunak for “once again” leaving coach operators “out in the cold.”Mr Vidler has drawn attention to the £5bn of further support awarded to the retail, leisure, hospitality and tourism sectors and how it again excludes coach operators. That is an “inexplicable omission” that will “hamper the industry’s ability to kickstart UK tourism and help to protect jobs and local economies across the country,” he says.In a later communication to members, CPT added that it continues to make the case to government that coach operators should be eligible for grants alongside the rest of the leisure and hospitality sector.Additionally, a failure by Mr Sunak to specifically ensure that sufficient funding will remain in place for bus operators to deliver the services that passengers need as recovery progresses has been described as “disappointing” by Mr Vidler. He says that such backing is “vital” to support the industry while passenger numbers are reduced.Fuel duty freeze: CPT attacks, RHA Coaches supportsMr Sunak’s decision not to increase fuel duty has also been attacked by Mr Vidler. He says that the continued freeze puts at risk the planned ‘green’ recovery and that the government has “missed the chance to take a bold step towards positioning the UK as a global climate leader in advance of the COP26 summit later this year.”The CPT CEO adds that the decade-long freeze of fuel duty has led to 200m fewer bus journeys, an additional 3m tonnes of CO2 emissions and increased congestion that cost the UK economy almost £7bn in 2019.However, RHA Coaches – which does not represent bus operators – has welcomed the fuel duty freeze. It is “very good news,” says RHA Chief Executive Richard Burnett. Mr Burnett adds that it will come as “a shot in the arm” for coach operators. He has also welcomed the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until September.“As with every Budget, [this one] contains much more detail that first meets the eye. But overall, we consider it to be a Budget based on optimism – and right now, that is something we all need,” adds the RHA CEO.Go-Ahead to explore ‘super-deduction’ relevance to ZE bus purchaseGo-Ahead Group will look at whether the ‘super deduction’ scheme announced by Mr Sunak will help the purchase of zero-emission busesGo-Ahead Group was quick to respond to the Budget. It will look closely at the ‘super-deduction’ scheme to understand if it can help the transport industry to invest in green technology, including zero-emission buses.Until 31 March 2023, ‘super-deduction’ will allow companies investing in qualifying new plant and machinery assets to claim a 130% capital allowance on those pieces of equipment and a 50% first year allowance for qualifying special rate assets.Chief Strategy and Customer Officer Katy Taylor adds that discussions around fuel duty rates should be abandoned in the long term. “It is surely time to consider a broader road pricing scheme that will encourage people to think harder about the social and environmental cost of private car usage,” she says.Ms Taylor welcomes steps being taken through the Budget to support high streets, but she adds that “policies to reduce emissions by encouraging people to leave their cars at home in favour of walking, cycling or public transport would have been welcome.”last_img read more

IN BRIEF

first_imgTHE Commission has urged the EU to organise a “permanent and open” dialogue with oil-producing countries and called for closer co-operation with Russia on energy. In a paper due to be presented to EU leaders at a summit later this month, the Commission also said it did not foresee a significant fall in oil prices in the short-term, but shied away from recommending the release of strategic reserves.INTERNAL market ministers reached provi-sional agreement on a draft EU law on copyright in the digital age last week, but failed to make headway on a planned Union-wide patent system. There are now hopes that the EU could formally adopt the copyright directive before the end of this year. But disagreements over the proposed patent law have raised doubts as to whether Union leaders’ pledge to create a European patent by the end of 2001 can still be respected.EU TRANSPORT ministers have agreed that single-hull oil tankers should be phased out as part of efforts to avoid accidents at sea like the Erika oil spill off the French coast late last year. The agreement came ahead of negotiations on the issue at an International Maritime Organisation (IMO) meeting this week. SWEDISH Prime Minister Göran Persson has indicated that a referendum on euro membership could be held in his country before autumn 2004. Persson has come under pressure to fix a deadline after the Danes rejected the single currency last week. Support for the euro in Sweden slumped to a record low last week after the vote, with only 31% in favour and 41% against.last_img read more

Why Russia is switching its priorities from the US to Europe

first_imgThere is no doubt that Bush had intended to ignore Russia on the geopolitical chessboard. But the White House has quickly come to realise that it cannot maximise its interests in the EU, Asia and the Middle East without Russian cooperation. In the meantime, Europe can only stand to benefit. Its reliable, constructive role in the international community makes it credible in issues involving the former Yugoslavia, in the activities of NATO and in peacekeeping operations in Bosnia and Kosovo. The degree of its economic development makes it an almost certain future member of the EU; however its main problems are not missile defence but refugees, duty-free shops, joining NATO and defining the border on the sea.The Bush-Putin meeting only took place after a swift U-turn by the White House, which did not until recently consider relations with the Kremlin a priority. Missile defence was the key. Russia sells enormous quantities of weapons to China as well as to Iran, Iraq and North Korea – the potential enemies whose unpredictable leaders are, according to Bush, the main reason for his new policy.Many EU leaders are as uneasy as Putin about missile defence. Russia is also squarely behind Europe in its desire to ratify the Kyoto climate control protocol – abandoned by Bush.This is just part of the reorientation of Russian political interests and priorities from the US to EuropeMoreover, relations between China and Russia will be given a boost next month after the signing of a friendship and cooperation agreement, leaving Washington with little optimism about future diplomatic moves.The main flashpoints of today’s world, namely the Balkans and the Middle East, must be seen in the same context. Washington has already lost any influence with the Palestinians – hence Yasser Arafat’s visits to Moscow and Brussels. Make no mistake, Bush may be grabbing most of the headlines but the Kremlin is quietly scoring political points; it was no coincidence that Putin’s next stop after Ljubljana was Belgrade. THE last time that Ljubljana – capital of Slovenia – found itself at the centre of Europe’s diplomatic stage was during the super-summit of 1821.It played host to the emperors of Austria and Russia and the king of Naples for more than three months between January and May, at the conference of the ultra-conservative Holy Alliance, established six years earlier in Vienna.On 16 June 2001, Ljubljana was for 24 hours the centre of the world again, when a new chapter in US-Russian relations was begun. Why did the former Cold War adversaries choose Slovenia as their meeting place? The answer is its geo-political situation as the final frontier of a peaceful and civilised Europe before the war-torn Balkans and unpredictable Asia.last_img read more

Little Liechtenstein: where the big news really happens…

first_imgVoters on the tiny Mediterranean island of Malta made waves earlier this month by voting ‘yes’, somewhat underwhelmingly, in a referendum on EU enlargement. Union leaders rejoiced, or at least breathed a sigh of relief. But the Malta Times feels the issue may not be settled. The country’s Labour Party is considering proposing holding another referendum if it wins the upcoming general election on 12 April, the paper reveals. In this new vote, the electorate “would be asked to choose between membership and ‘partnership’”.While this development threatens to confuse the enlargement issue, it also raises the prospect of the island’s citizens being dubbed as ‘Malteasers’. Perhaps French authorities will call for a non-binding resolution giving Ferrara three months to decide whether to come back to jail. But it’s a safer bet that they will avoid anything that looks like an ultimatum. Meanwhile, in Liechtenstein, a country so small it doesn’t have a king, only a prince, voters overwhelmingly supported a move away from democracy. They have chosen to give Prince Hans Adam II more powers. In what must be considered an effective new strategy to be emulated by other ambitious leaders, the prince threatened to move to Austria if he didn’t get his way. The gambit worked, according to the paper Liechtensteiner Vaterland. More than 64 % of the country’s voters supported the “princely initiative petition”. In a press conference the prince noted that the decision in the vote made him feel more comfortable about stepping aside for his heir.The New York Times notes that “members of the Council of Europe have expressed concern over the amendments, saying they would give the hereditary Liechtenstein princes unprecedented powers when monarchs across Europe have been steadily shedding theirs”. And Austria’s Die Presse sees the referendum result – which enables the prince to dismiss governments, veto legislation and nominate judges – as a backward step.Germany’s Der Tagesspiegel scathingly pronounces that “Hans Adam’s draft constitution bears the autocratic mark of a man whose power has clearly gone to his princely head.”In other news, Athens daily Kathimerini reports that a Greek journalist has filed a legal suit against former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. It notes: “Ilias Dimitrakopoulos accuses Kissinger of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity – including alleged involvement in the military junta’s crimes and the Turkish invasion and occupation of Cyprus.” Netherlands paper Het Financieele Dagblat covers an effort by Dutch authorities to prevent Germans from flooding across their border to buy drugs in the country’s infamous ‘coffee shops’. They say they’re hoping to create “German-free zones”, according to the paper.center_img “With border controls long gone, many Germans are driving into the Netherlands daily for hashish and marijuana, which are sold in Dutch coffee shops but are illegal in Germany,” it reports. The article focuses on Venlo, a border town on the river Maas that is within 50 kilometres of around five million Germans. “Venlo’s five tolerated coffee shops just can’t meet the demand,” says a city spokesman, “so we’ve seen a rise in illegal coffee shops and street sellers”. Can we expect Frits Bolkestein to take some kind of action? Seems like a clear violation of single market rules.French papers, preoccupied with other news, barely note the daring escape from prison of one of the country’s most notorious criminals.Gunmen used military weapons including a bazooka to storm a prison in the town of Fresnes and free Antonio Ferrara, a reputed gangster who had already escaped from jail once before.Le Monde reports that Paris is now worried about a rash of jailbreaks, citing one that occurred in Corsica the week before. Still, it admires the “spectacular escape, perfectly timed and carried out by a heavily armed commando squad”.last_img read more

Barroso and Solana in bid to boost EU-US relations

first_imgTheir visits will focus on attempts to restart multilateral world trade talks and on international efforts to address the worsening crisis in the Middle East. Ahead of the visits, EU diplomats described 2007 as a potential watershed year in EU-US relations, with France and the UK preparing for a change of leadership. November’s mid-term elections in the US saw Congress come under the Democrats’ control. Barroso will meet US President George W. Bush on 8 January to discuss restarting the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Doha round. Many EU policymakers strongly support the group’s suggestions to intensify dialogue with Iran and Syria and step up efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Although the trade talks collapsed in July, political attempts to return to the negotiating table have intensified in recent weeks. EU officials described as “positive” the recent efforts of Susan Schwab, the US trade representative, to move in that direction.Schwab has taken on the task of convincing a more protectionist Congress to renew the administration’s trade negotiating mandate, which is essential for the US to negotiate any WTO deal. The current mandate will expire in June 2007. EU officials hope that strong European backing could help the White House to convince Democrats to treat the issue in a non-partisan manner. Separately, Javier Solana will visit Washington and New York on 3-9 January to discuss EU-US and United Nations co-operation on Afghanistan, Darfur, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, the Middle East peace process and Syria. In Washington, he will meet Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. Solana is expected to report on the possibility of sending an EU police mission to Afghanistan. There is also hope that co-operation on Iraq can be stepped up following the publication of the Iraq Study Group’s report, which was released in December. last_img read more

British scrum in an Irish market

first_imgIn the television market, the major British channels have always been popular in Ireland but more importantly BSkyB, the satellite broadcaster owned by Rupert Murdock, now provides almost half of Irish homes with subscription television service. This gives the company enormous power to push its British channels, such as Sky One and Sky News, and could spell disaster for the domestic Irish channels, should BSkyB decide to move them from the top slots in its television listing. In the end the Ireland-England rugby clash passed off peacefully and was hailed afterwards as a defining moment, as one columnist put it, “the English sang lustily to their Ma’am. The Irish stayed perfectly silent. Like rural electrification, sex and getting rich, we applauded ourselves on getting it over with.”But the episode which saw the media place troubled Irish history and a modern sporting occasion together masked the penetration of large sections of British newspapers and television stations into the Irish market. British titles such as the Sun, the Mirror, the Sunday Times, the News of the World and the Star (jointly owned by Irish and British media groups) are well-established in the Irish market and have circulation figures which are likely to keep them there. The Mail last year began daily and Sunday editions in Ireland. But just like for the rugby match, British titles are careful to alter their coverage when it comes to issues sensitive to an Irish audience. Gone are the days when the Mail could print articles like those in 1997 calling for sanctions to be imposed on Irish people following IRA disruption to the transport system in England. The Irish editions of British papers are especially careful to tone down their anti-European tendencies. When the Sun in 2003 hit out at French President Jacques Chirac for not supporting the war in Iraq and placed a rather unflattering picture of the French president’s head on a worm on its front page it changed the content for the Irish audience. Treatment of Northern Ireland and immigration must also be picked over to ensure Irish editions do not carry overtly British slants.It could be argued that the British titles have entered the tabloid section of the Irish newspaper market where gaps existed and where coverage of football and television translates easily between the two countries. To a large, circumstances will probably keep British titles out of the broadsheet market for the time being. The Irish Times (daily circulation 116,100) is owned by a trust and cannot be sold while the largest selling daily, the Irish Independent (163,700) is owned by Independent News and Media, an Irish media empire which in the last few years has itself been moving into the British media market by buying the Independent and the Belfast Telegraph. The Irish Examiner (56,400) is also run by an Irish-owned media group, Thomas Crosbie Holdings, and is unlikely to sell any time soon.But the Sunday Times is a case in point: despite a faltering start it now sells 107,000 copies and has proven that it is possible to penetrate an Irish market at the top end using a mixture of British and Irish content. The Irish Daily Mail could possibly be the paper to watch in the coming years as it has stated its intention to attract readers from the Irish Independent (which has responded by producing a tabloid edition), though at the moment seems instead to be encroaching on the Irish Sun’s market. Perhaps with a little more time, a bit more studying of the Irish market and history, it can gain a foothold further up the newspaper food chain. What really got the media excited was that never before had an English rugby or soccer team played in Croke Park because of the GAA’s ban on “foreign” games, now lifted following a vote by the GAA in response to renovations at the arena where these games are usually played.History, politics and culture clashed with sport, driving sober newspaper columnists to devote acres of pages to the issue.What had most of them fervently tapping away was the prospect of the British national anthem being played in Croke Park, the scene of an incident some 87 years previously when British soldiers entered the stadium during a Gaelic football match and opened fire, killing 14 civilians, including a young footballer. last_img read more

Tracing Turkey’s amazing transformation

first_imgIt is open to debate whether Turkey really is “the most fascinating country in the world”, as Stephen Kinzer claims in his preface to the revised edition of Crescent & Star. But there is no doubt that the country has undergone an amazing transformation over the past few years. There is hardly a better guide to the changes than this book, subtitled Turkey Between Two Worlds.Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s revolution of the 1920s solidified over decades into a structure whose main aim seemed to be the suppression of any form of openness. Three military coups between 1960 and 1980 and military pressure in 1997 that deposed the first government with an Islamist prime minister, drove home the point: the military saw itself as the guarantor of the Kemalist order. “Since 1923 the country had been ruled by a self-perpetuating elite shaped above all by paralysing fear of the people,” Kinzer writes. But growing social and political pressure became too great to withstand once Islamists of various stripes replaced leftists as the main enemy of the state. In a dramatic turn of events that Kinzer equates with Atatürk’s seizure of power in 1923, Recep Tayyip Erdog?an became prime minister in 2003 and quickly turned the country into a leading Muslim liberal democracy. Just how liberal is being tested every day but the degree of political, social, religious and economic freedom that ordinary Turks enjoy today is unprecedented. “Never since the Turkish Republic was founded in 1923 has it been better positioned to fulfil its citizens’ dreams and project itself out into the wider world,” Kinzer writes in the introduction to his book, first published in 2001 and now completely rewritten. The second part of the promise implicit in this statement – to retrace Turkey’s role in the region and internationally – remains largely unfulfilled. For anyone who cares about Turkey and its role in Europe, however, this book is required reading. Economic changes Much of the energy behind Turkey’s transformation has been generated domestically, notably through the opening of the country’s economy, previously stifled by overbearing bureaucracy. But momentum was also maintained by the prospect of eventual membership of the European Union, increasingly tangible as Erdog?an consolidated his power. When Kinzer asked a barber in a Kurdish town why he was suddenly able to openly voice his support for Kurdish separatism, the man simply replied: “We’re becoming part of Europe. If we’re European, we can say whatever we want.” It is on the Kurdish issue that the real strengths of this book are most apparent. Kinzer – a former bureau chief for the New York Times in Istanbul – approaches this as he tackles the other topics he deals with here: he is on the ground listening to those who are caught up in it. There is no doubt that Kinzer loves Turkey, but his is not blind love. Crescent & Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds. By Stephen Kinzer. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York. €12.99 Fact Filelast_img read more