German Truck and bus maker, MAN is enduring troubled times as the company is suffering low earnings, pressure from its parent company and the need to urgently transform to zero emission powertrains
Not surprisingly, given it is a subsidiary of Volkswagen’s Traton truck group, MAN has announced it has started the process to wean itself off a dependency on diesel in favour of all-electric powertrains, starting in 2024.
We say not surprisingly, because VW, the perpetrator of the infamous ‘Dieselgate’ scandal, has become possibly the staunchest disciple amongst automotive manufacturers of the pivot to zero emission vehicles, whether through a feeling of guilt or from a standpoint of altruism.
MAN currently offers only a handful of electrified trucks, vans, and buses, but it says it will focus further on electric commercial vehicles under pressure from its parent VW.
MAN formed became a commercial vehicle maker in the 1950s, growing out of the MAN engineering company, which has a storied past in its own right. Its origins date back to the 18th century but by 1910 the company became known as Maschinenfabrik Augsburg Nürnberg, or MAN for short. Prior to WWII, Rudi Diesel worked in the Augsburg labs of MAN to perfect the engine that would ultimately bear his name, and during the war the company produced diesel engines for UBoats and tanks, which enabled it to move into commercial vehicle manufacturing in the 1950s.
Volkswagen took a controlling interest in MAN Truck and Bus in 2011and has since taken full ownership of the company, and it is now a part of its Traton commercial vehicle group.
MAN’s CEO, Dr. Andreas Tostmann, has shared plans for the company to abandon diesel engines for electric powertrains in order to “try and save the entire company”.
Tostmann has said that MAN has been ‘rehearsing’ the manufacture of its e-trucks in a 4,000 square metre facility in Munich for the last few months and says that by the end of 2023, all MAN employees will be qualified to build electric trucks.
Tostmann says MAN is planning electric trucks and buses capable of achieving a range of between 700 and 1,000 km and explained that MAN’s preference is for electric powertrains rather than hydrogen fuel cells, saying that cost parity with diesel can be “achieved more quickly with an electric drive than with a fuel cell”.
MAN also has also revealed extensive plans for electric bus production with the prospect that nine out of ten city buses delivered in Europe will be electric powered by 2030.
For all of that MAN’s journey toward electrification remains an uphill battle.
In order to reach its goals, MAN has had to make some serious compromises including rapidly disposing of at least one truck manufacturing plant as well as eliminating around 3,500 jobs, largely under the pressure from parent Volkswagen.
MAN struggled to achieve its earnings targets in the first half of this year, and VW’s board has reportedly called the situation “one last chance for MAN.”
Speculation about Tostmann’s job security as CEO has also begun to mount, although the electric truck boss has rejected this,
“My job is to implement the future plan for MAN, ” said Tostmann.