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Chinese-bodied Scania at Kortrijk show

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At the Busworld show in Kortrijk yesterday, Scania dealt what could be a serious blow to the future of European manufacturing with the unveiling of a new 12m coach model bodied by Chinese manufacturer Higer. The move presents a seemingly attractive mix of low-cost manufacture with a major global brand and support infrastructure, and could represent a route into European markets by Chinese manufacturers.

Built to European specification and designed in Sodertalje, the new Scania Touring HD is first destined for central European markets, but Scania says it  will "gradually expand towards the west, south and north". The company also confirmed that  the Scania Touring will be followed by other models. And ominously the Higer facility in Suzhou, Shanghai has capacity set aside to produce 3,000 Scania Buses and Coaches.

At a press conference at Kortrijk, which was witnessed by many representatives from other manufacturers as well as the world's press, Scania asserted that the new coach will be fully supported by its service support network.

"Scania has found a perfect partner for its global expansion strategy," says Melker Jernberg, senior vice president, Scania Buses and Coaches. "The partnership with Higer provides Scania with a platform to satisfy the needs of new and existing markets. This also means that Scania touring will be followed by other models in due course."

Scania's UK representatives at the show however said that there are no current plans to bring the Scania Touring to the UK.

The vehicle at Busworld was a 49-seat 3.8m high with 13-litre Euro 5 engine rated at 400h and including the new version of Scania's Opticruise with automatic clutch and Scnaia retarder. The interior featured optional stitched leather seats with contrasting seams.

Two trim levels will be available for the new coach, Comfort and Premium, both include centre toilet, air-conditioning and double-glazed, tinted windows.

Higer employs around 4,000 people in Shanghai and has an overall production capacity of 18,000 buses and coaches a year. It has been working with Scania for five years and set up the production line which is now going to manufacture the Scania Touring in 2006.

Meanwhile Irizar, which has been Scania's key coach partner to date, showed an i4 low entry at Busworld with Volvo B7R chassis, and integral versions of the i4H and the PB with DAF engines.

www.scania.com
www.higer.com 


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