Setra opens new doors
MCI unveils a European second door and the latest hospitality features available on the 2014 Setra TopClass S 417
By David Hubbard
Through its marketing and distribution of the Setra brand, Motor Coach Industries (MCI), Des Plaines, IL, is bolstering a coach travel concept to North America that European passengers have long taken for granted. The company is unveiling the latest in luxury interiors and hospitality features available as custom options for the 2014 Setra TopClass S 417.
A second door and stairwell mid-cabin allow passengers to board and disembark easily and quickly, and cleverly conceal the lavatory. As a result, the location of this second entrance also creates a separate VIP space in the rear of the cabin. The option of “Club Corner” lounge, hospitality galleys and seat pairs arranged around a center table make a perfect upscale space for on-the-road meetings and private entertaining.
“The second stairwell and club corners make this model of the S 417 Setra unlike any other coach in North America today,” says Brent Maitland, MCI vice president, marketing and product planning. “These new options offer a level of luxury that affluent inbound European passengers are accustomed to and give operators new opportunities to set their service apart.”
MCI is putting these innovative features front and center to showcase Setra’s long history in the European market as an innovator and leader in premium coaches. Along with the second stairwell and club corner, further choices for the Setra S 417 include the TopSky glass roof and rear window.
Maitland says the ease of customization is among the most visible attributes of the Setra brand. MCI’s goal is to extend the same levels of luxury to operators and passengers in the U.S. and Canada.
MCI says it is working closely with Setra, a brand under Daimler’s Evo Bus division based in Neu-Ulm, Germany, to bring much of the design and customization processes to U.S. and Canadian coach operators. Setra engineers and designers work closely with customers on an individual basis to craft configurations and amenities that showcase a company’s particular brand and level of service.
“We want to make many of the best amenities Setra provides its European customers available to our clients,” Maitland says. “Whether it is a particular style and color of seat, or a package of features that really set their operation apart, MCI has the capability to make sure all customers get their wish.”
Seat selection alone illustrates a unique level of customization for Setra. The company designs and constructs its own proprietary coach seating in a wealth of style options. The story goes that Setra once matched the seat color to a client’s favorite handbag.
Engineering and safety features
Of course, with an extensive list of safety features, there is more to Setra than style. Innovative engineering is the heart of the brand, beginning with the proven and popular BlueTec engine technology and the signature self-supporting Setra structure. A collision guard behind the front bumper absorbs the force of an impact and helps to prevent collisions. The safety design of the driver platform allows rigid structures, including the steering column, to slide backward during a collision, giving more protection to the driver and allowing more time to gain control of the coach.
Drivers encountering mountainous or hilly terrain will appreciate the combined engine and transmission retarder, as well as an integrated Jake brake. Knorr disc brakes come on all six wheels. Setra says these brakes are easier to inspect and service. The display on the driver instrument panel shows brake pad wear and replacement status.
Maitland says a driver does not need to be negotiating a hairpin turn to see the value in automatic traction control, antilock braking or Setra’s electric stability program.
The S 417 features front cornering lights that switch on with the turn signal. A light sensor turns on exterior lighting automatically, enabling the drivers to watch the road rather than the switches.
Driver-activated automatic tire chains and automatic rain-sensor windshield wipers add additional safety in bad weather. The cockpit is designed to keep other potential distractions to a minimum as well, from the steering wheel-mounted audio-video controls to the hands-free flexible boom microphone.
Sensors alert the fire detection and tire-pressure monitoring systems to detect problems before they become serious and compromise safety. The tire-pressure system also helps operators optimize fuel economy through proper tire inflation.
Within the passenger cabin, while standard three-point seatbelts are perhaps the most obvious safety feature, the rear-facing lavatory design can also protect the occupant in the event of a collision.
Premium service included
In its distribution of Setra coaches, MCI says it is boosting its aftermarket support to offer Setra customers the same resources, talent and strengths that MCI operators have relied on for years.
“A premium brand requires premium support,” Maitland says. “We’re very fortunate to be able to tap into the knowledge and experience of former Setra employees who are now with MCI. Our strategy has been to develop a dedicated team focused on Setra, from service to parts support.”
In November, the MCI Technician Training division conducted a week-long Setra chassis workshop for MCI technicians at the Des Plaines, IL, Service Center.
With Willi Toeller, Setra chassis trainer for Daimler’s EVO Bus, on hand, MCI Technical Trainer Jeff Elliott says this was the most intensive Setra training seminar thus far.
“The idea is to share the knowledge,” Elliott says. “Setra customers can be confident that MCI supports the Setra product through its complete life-cycle, including preventative maintenance, parts and repair.”
According to MCI, for the first time since 1984 since Setra launched in the U.S., operators have access to comprehensive service and training, including MCI’s respected Technical Tune-up sessions and Setra-specific webinars.
During Busworld 2013, the international equipment trade show in Kortrijk, Belgium, 19 European bus journalists named the Setra ComfortClass as “Coach of the Year 2014.” This jury praised the overall design concept, performance, safety features, handling, ergonomics, passenger-friendliness and economic efficiency.
“We think our Setra customers will continue to be impressed both by the improvements they are seeing in service and parts, and by ongoing product innovations that will help set their operations apart,” Maitland says. “MCI is proud of the Setra brand, and part of that pride is in knowing that we are bringing Setra customers new value in service — and exciting new options such as the European second door and club-corner lounge that add value by custom tailoring their coaches to their market and customer base.”