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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