The era of particular car manufacturers specialising in the production of one solid form of vehicle seems to be over.
Everyone is trying out something new or perfecting existing production to enter or consolidate themselves in new market segments.
Mercedes Benz, a luxury car manufacturer, early this week unveiled a long haul bus that is likely to give traditional bus producers such as Isuzu and Leyland a run for their money.
Traditionally, Mercedes Benz has mainly concentrated on saloons, SUVs and trucks. However, the introduction of the Mercedes Benz 917 bus, will take the car manufacture to a new market segment.
The 37-seater bus is built for the wider East African market and has specifications that rhyme well with the region’s roads conditions.
Specifications and features
Built in Kenya by Daimler, the MB-917 boosts of an Antilock Braking System (ABS) for driver and passenger safety. The system also helps to control the speed of the bus in case of instant braking.
The bus is also built with parabolic springs which make it an off-road vehicle. The springs keep the bus wheels in a roadworthy contact with the ground compared to stiffer conventional springs compared to the standard leaf springs, which are stiff and rigid.
It runs on a four-litre engine that is grounded on a 170 horse power and 520 torque. One litre of fuel can cover upto six or more kilometers, considering the style of driving.
The bus is built with enough leg room between the seats that allow passengers enough space to stretch and recline backwards.
It is also fitted with socket provisions where passengers can charge different gadgets such as tablets, phones and laptops, among others using either the standard three pin charger or the universal serial bus (USB).
Spare parts availability
According to Gilbert Wavamunno, the Spear Motors sales director, the MB-917 bus shares its spare parts with Daimler commercial vehicles such as Mercedes trucks and Fusos.
“It is easy to maintain because there are no electronics. Even when driving in a rural area, you do not have to worry,” he says.
The bus has a relatively wide body but is ideal for Uganda’s narrow roads. It is also a durable bus, which according to Gilbert, the Spear Motors sales director Wavamunno, has been tested to navigate tropical environments, especially within East Africa. The bus was also tested in India, which almost has similar roads with those in Uganda. It sets a new benchmark for markets in East Africa in terms of comfort, safety and reliability.
Other features on the MB-917 bus
Wide drive area
The bus has a wide drive area that offers the driver enough space to stretch. It also has a relatively less crappy dashboard, which provides easy drivablity without much distraction for the driver. It is also made with less electronics thus much of its functions are in manual format.
All seats are fitted with socket provisions that allow passengers an opportunity to charge their gadgets using either the standard three pin charger or the universal serial bus (USB) devices. It is highly comfortable and offers enough legroom for passengers.