Hail Scania!

Hail Scania!

From the so-called “Nordmark bus” to a leading player within the field of Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) systems … Scania has certainly made its mark on the bus and coach industry over the past 100 years – and we have decided that it’s time to pay tribute to this leading provider of passenger transport.

Scania’s bus and coach story kicks off in 1911, when the newly merged Scania-Vabis delivered the first Swedish-built, engine-powered omnibus – known to many as the Nordmark bus.

Its chain-driven chassis was built by Scania in Malmo, southern Sweden, and was equipped with an engine and body from Vabis, a Swedish car and truck manufacturer founded in 1891 in Södertälje.

In 1922, Scania joined forces with the Swedish Post Office and produced a “niche” product called the post bus. It delivered mail throughout the year to sparsely populated areas in northern Sweden, using front skids and rear tracks during winter.

Produced for the remainder of the decade, the post bus managed to break the winter isolation in remote regions. It also marked the start of continuous bus production for the company.

In the early 1930s, sales of buses surpassed sales of trucks and there became a growing need for larger buses. Scania-Vabis then launched the Bulldog bus, a pioneer because of its simple, space-saving design.

Shortly after the Second World War, Scania-Vabis exported buses to Brazil for the first time, followed by trucks in 1951 under an import agreement with the Brazilian automotive company Vemag. The Scania-Vabis factory opened in São Paulo in 1961.  

Once firmly established in Brazil, Scania-Vabis started manufacturing engines. In 1959 the B75 was the first bus model built for the Brazilian market. This bus, with its engine at the front, was used both as a tourist coach and a city bus.

Scania’s first passenger-friendly, city bus came just in time for the changeover to right-hand traffic in Sweden. Scania-Vabis launched the CR76 in 1966 and this low weight and low emission bus served as the basis for the CR111 silent bus launched in 1971. 

As environmental issues became increasingly important, Scania began testing CR113 ethanol buses in normal city operation in 1986. Scania ethanol buses have been used in the Sweden capital ever since. 

In 1996, the company launched the new aluminium-bodied city bus, the Scania OmniCity. With its low floor and full lateral kneeling, this bus was and still is ideally suited for urban traffic.

After the turn of the millennium, the Scania F-Series was launched. Its front-mounted five-cylinder engine and robust chassis made it ideal for tough conditions but still made no compromise on comfort or passenger capacity.  

Having developed its first hybrid bus concept in 1995, Scania launched another innovative hybrid bus concept in 2007, which was designed for maximum passenger convenience.

The Scania Touring coach was then launched in 2009 and generated a lot of interest from operators. Styled by Scania and produced in cooperation with Chinese bus builder, Higer, it was designed to satisfy both new and existing markets.  

The year of 2009 also marked the start of Scania’s involvement in BRT systems and resulted in an order for 143 high-capacity articulated buses designed to run on dedicated bus lanes in Johannesburg. The Rea Vaya system aims to turn commuters away from private car use, relieving congestion and pollution. (Yes, we know that these are lofty goals.) 

Here’s to the next 100 years of Scania innovation!

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Francois Pieterse (right), Rupert Jooné and Analize van Aswegen from Anglo American Exploration Africa take ownership of their Unimog from Ferdi de Beer, technical specialist: Special Vehicles at Mercedes-Benz South Africa.
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