The future of MAN is digital, automated and electric. On its way to becoming one of the leading international suppliers of commercial vehicles, the growing company had to overcome a number of technical hurdles and face world-historical upheavals. A company history in five acts.
In 1840, the entrepreneur Ludwig Sander, together with the engineer Jean Gaspard Dollfus, founded the first direct predecessor of MAN, the Sander’sche Maschinenfabrik, in Augsburg. In 1844, it is renamed to C. Reichenbach’sche Maschinenfabrik, after the printing press pioneer Carl August Reichenbach, who made the company famous with his innovative invention. In 1857, the company is again renamed to Maschinenfabrik Augsburg. At the same time, the iron foundry and machine factory Klett & Comp is founded in Nuremberg in 1841, which is renamed to Maschinenbau-Actiengesellschaft Nürnberg in 1873. In 1898, the companies in Augsburg and Nuremberg merge to Vereinigte Maschinenfabrik Augsburg und Maschinenbaugesellschaft Nürnberg A.G. – and finally operate as Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg AG, abbreviated M.A.N., in 1908.
Independently of this, MAN’s roots also go back to another indirect predecessor company: the St. Antony ironworks in Oberhausen, founded in 1758, which was the first heavy industry company in the Ruhr region. In 1808, the smelter is merged with two neighbouring ironworks to form the Jacobi, Haniel & Huyssen ironworks and trading company. In 1873, the company becomes Gutehoffnungshütte, Aktienverein für Bergbau und Hüttenbetrieb, or GHH for short. In 1921, it takes over the majority of the then financially troubled Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg (M.A.N.). Through this merger, the supply of coal, iron and steel for Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg AG can be guaranteed in the long term.
The birth of commercial vehicle production dates back to 1915: At that time, production of commercial vehicles begins in a small assembly plant in Lindau on Lake Constance. At that time still under the name of M.A.N.-Saurer Lastwagenwerke – a joint venture with the Swiss Adolph Saurer AG. Light cardan trucks and the heavier tracked trucks are produced. Just one year later, the commercial vehicle production is relocated from Lindau to Nuremberg. In the midst of the Golden Twenties, in 1924, MAN presents the world’s first vehicle diesel engine with direct injection and completely redesigned buses built on a low-frame chassis. Only a few years after the world premiere, MAN builds the first three-axle buses as well as trolleybuses. With 140/150 HP, they create the most powerful diesel heavy-duty truck internationally at the time in the 1930s. In addition to the development of exhaust gas turbochargers for diesel engines and all-wheel drive for commercial vehicles, MAN introduces assembly line production.
During the Second World War, the Nuremberg and Augsburg plants are repeatedly the target of air raids. There, mainly tanks or also buses and trucks are produced as army vehicles, e.g. the “Einheitsdiesel” (light standard off-road truck) with all-wheel drive – until the halls and production machines are almost completely destroyed at the end of 1944. For a long time, the production of civilian commercial vehicles is also maintained.
In 1953, in the course of reconstruction and the onset of the economic miracle, the F8 bonnet cars and buses as MKN versions with alligator bonnets dominate the scene on German roads. In the off-road sector, it is the agricultural tractors or agricultural diesels from MAN that are used primarily in agriculture and timber operations.
At this time, the tractors, buses and trucks are built in Nuremberg. Due to increasing production, MAN moves to the new larger plant in Munich-Allach in 1955. There, on 15 November of the same year, the first truck rolls off the assembly line, a 515 L1. MAN ends the production of tractors in 1963.
In 1965, after only ten years, 100,000 trucks were already produced there. In this decade, it is above all the bulky hauber and front steerers, known as “Pausbacke” (chubby cheeks), that dominate the picture on and off-road. Not only are the products becoming more innovative – MAN’s product logo is also changing. At the beginning of the 1970s, MAN takes over the Büssing company. This is how the Braunschweig heraldic lion finds its way into the logo. In cooperation with the French commercial vehicle manufacturer Saviem and later also with Volkswagen, MAN enters into the joint production and sale of light truck models. At the end of the 1970s, in 1978, the MAN 19.280 is voted “Truck of the Year” – many other awards were to follow.
In the 1970s and 1980s, MAN expands, first and foremost internationally. The commercial vehicle manufacturer now also produces and sells trucks and buses in South Africa, the USA and Turkey. In addition, the acquisition of the ÖAF, Gräf & Stift and Steyr brands adds considerable production capacity in Austria. Not only the locations are expanded – with the G90, M90 and F90 MAN establishes a vehicle family consisting of a series of light, medium and heavy trucks that still exist in a comparable form today. Bus production takes place at the former Büssing plant in Salzgitter, which MAN takes over in 1971. MAN also acquires the premium bus brand NEOPLAN in 2001.
In 2007, the new TGX and TGS heavy-duty truck series serve as successors to the TGA series introduced in 2000, setting another milestone for MAN in international transport solutions: The V8 variant with 680 HP is the most powerful series production truck in Europe at the time.
There are also innovations in the city buses: With the MAN Lion’s City Hybrid, the fourth generation of hybrid buses enters series production. Thanks to the innovative hybrid drive concept, the model saves up to 25% fuel and is awarded the “EcoGlobe” and the “Red Dot Design” award in 2011.
In 2016, downsizing starts at MAN: The Munich-based company enters the world of vans for the first time. With the new MAN TGE from 3.0 to 5.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight, MAN rounds off its product range downwards. MAN thus becomes a full-range supplier.
Digitalisation and automation have been anchored in the company’s history from an early stage. But in 2017, MAN initiates a real digital offensive and is launching several major projects at the same time: All trucks are connected to the open, manufacturer-independent platform RIO. RIO makes it possible to standardise route planning, route optimisation and maintenance management of complex vehicle fleets.
Building on this platform, MAN offers its customers since 2018 customised digital solutions for MAN vehicles under the name “MAN DigitalServices”. This gives MAN customers access to their vehicle data in real time and regardless of location. In addition, the MAN Transport Solutions department is founded to support customers entering the field of e-mobility with qualified expertise and customised solutions.
Since autumn 2018, companies in Austria and Germany have been gathering experience with e-mobility in daily use with a small series of the MAN eTGM. MAN is also presenting the MAN CitE study at the IAA, an electrically powered city truck that is full of new ideas and creative solutions. Developed in just 18 months, the 15-tonne truck is designed for inner-city distribution transport.
In addition, MAN launches its new generation of city buses – the Lion’s City series offers future-proof solutions for all challenges in public transport. With the completely newly developed diesel and gas engines, the new MAN EfficientHybrid System and the all-electric MAN Lion’s City E, the entire range of clean and efficient drive systems will be available from 2018.
MAN is also conducting the world’s first practical test of platooning technology in cooperation with DB Schenker and the Fresenius University of Applied Sciences. With truck platooning, two or more vehicles are electronically coupled with one another at a close distance. This technology increases road safety and the slipstream effect enables fuel savings and reduces CO2 emissions.