INTERVIEW: One to One with Joachim Drees, Chairman of the Management Board at MAN Truck & Bus

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…..at the launch of the new MAN Truck Generation (TG) range

This must be the most important project at MAN Truck & Bus in recent years. What does that feel like?

It’s a wonderful feeling! I can still remember the moment I saw the initial concepts for the new truck. That was in April 2015, shortly after I became Chairman of the Management Board at MAN Truck & Bus. The first insight totally fascinated me. Until then, I had only gained an impression of MAN products from the outside. So I was truly delighted when I saw all the details in the very first vehicle studies. And then the real work actually started. Over the past five years, we have given everything we can to present the best vehicle on the market to our customers and to our customers’ customers. I would like to thank all those involved. It has been an incredible team performance. Everyone has extended themselves. All of us at MAN can be proud of this great truck. And it makes me personally proud to be part of this strong team.

How many employees were involved in this development?

Initially it was a small group of colleagues who developed the first ideas. We then formed a core team of 80 people in the second stage and finally there were twenty teams with representatives from each division – over 200 people worldwide. Ultimately the whole of MAN is engaged in the project, a total of around 2,100 employees. But we also involved customers and we repeatedly drew them into the development process, because it was extremely important for us to align the new truck with the needs of our customers right from the start.

The TG market launch is occurring at a time of major change as the transport industry is undergoing transformation. Is this a good time for a new generation of trucks?

Our new TG is nothing less than the answer to the challenges and upheavals in our industry. Customers need a reliable vehicle that is perfectly tailored to their needs – from efficiency through to handling and comfort, as well as the best possible service. This is what we offer them with the new MAN Truck Generation. They receive the best overall package in the market from us, which makes their job easier. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what we mean by our brand promise: simplifying business.

What do you think are the challenges facing the transport industry?

One big problem is the lack of drivers. In Europe, for example, there is a shortfall of around 50,000 drivers. If freight forwarders want to attract and retain the best drivers, then they need to offer them the best possible working conditions. Another challenge is the increasing digitisation of all logistics processes. Digital services greatly improve business efficiency and assist in realising higher margins. But the flip side is the greater complexity with which many operators are struggling. And finally, sustainability is also a key issue. Lawmakers are demanding a significant reduction in CO2 output, 15 percent by 2025 and 30 percent by 2030. Our new truck offers answers to this issue: the new vehicle consumes eight percent less fuel in long-distance traffic than the previous model with a Euro 6c engine. Eight percent! That’s massive. It reduces emissions in a sustainable way and means cash for our customers.

What are the most outstanding features of the new MAN Truck Generation?

Four points are particularly important. Firstly, we have completely redesigned the cab and created the most innovative and comfortable driver’s workplace in the commercial vehicle industry. Secondly, we ensure even greater efficiency and cost-effectiveness. The new vehicle reduces fuel consumption by up to eight percent, which significantly reduces the total cost of ownership. We have also improved the payload, enabling up to an additional 230 kilogrammes. The third advantage is optimised uptime. We are the manufacturer with the most reliable vehicles over the long term. MAN ServiceCare is our proactive service management package. It can be used to significantly increase vehicle availability thanks to proactive planning and intelligent bundling of service appointments. And finally: we promise our customers a personal, competent and reliable partnership. Around 1,700 service centres and work-shops in 138 countries speak for themselves.

How do you ensure that the technical standards of the new MAN Truck Generation are not outdated again in a few years?

We’re using a completely new electronic architecture for the new generation that is ready to integrate future requirements. Further sensors and functions can easily be retrofitted, for example. This enables straightforward integration of alternative drives, new assistance systems or automation functions. We have already reached a new level of digitisation in our vehicle: it is the first fully networked truck, with an infrastructure open to further digital applications in the future. The supply of over-the-air services will also be possible in the future. So if a customer’s needs change, they will be able to adapt their truck accordingly in the future.

Requirements within modern logistics are becoming more diverse, so trucks must be more specifically tailored to them. How are you doing with that?

We are much more focused on the customer’s transport task and their specific requirements. Our sales personnel use various criteria to determine the individual needs of perspective customers. This usually takes just five minutes and greatly simplifies the entire selection process for the customer. Very specific adjustments are of course still ultimately possible. What is crucial is that we have become much more efficient: we now have ten percent more variants on offer, but twenty percent fewer parts.

Has this development led to a transformation within MAN Truck & Bus?

The radical changes in or industry are of course also changing MAN. The transformation that our company faces also sets challenges in all areas. Our new Truck Generation represents this transformation. Our internal realignment also gathered pace with the start of this project. This included research, production, marketing and communication: we have established new processes and structures in all these divisions – in parallel with development of the new TG. The main premise was also to align MAN Truck & Bus internally to be even more customer-orientated in every corner. So we have not just built a new truck, we have further developed the entire company. The entire MAN team gave everything! Above all MAN employees gave everything all the time. This product contains all of MAN’s passion and heart. We offer customers the best complete package on the market, our MAN flagship.
Text: Sönke Wiese

Facts, Figures & Dateline

Between 2020 and 2021 the new MAN TG will go on sale globally
• 3,000 cab colours available – Launch colour: Golden Topaz
• 15 May 2015: Project began
• 18 March 2016: Concept created
• 16 May 2017: Prototype built
• 12 March 2018: Pre-production models assembled
• 10 February 2019: Premier at Port of Bilbao
• Design team led by Holger Koos and Rudolf Kupitza
• 1,800 newly trained workers and 150 robots work on the
assembly line 24/7 in Munich
• Up to 480 cabs pass the production line each day
• 4 million test kilometre at extreme temperature – hot and
cold climates
• 2007: TGX & TGS win International Truck of the Year
Award
• 2.8 million lines of software was developed in-house by the
MAN IT Department