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[IMAGE]MET1daimler-opening-2.jpg[/IMAGE]Daimler Buses North America is set to unveil its new Setra model — the Setra ComfortClass S 407 — a new touring coach concept vehicle. Differing from the TopClass S 417, which was developed from the current generation of European Setra touring coaches to meet the requirements of the U.S. market, the new ComfortClass S 407 is a classic touring coach in accordance with North American design standards, representing an economical alternative for coach companies.
"The TopClass S 417 has been extremely successful in gaining market share in the luxury segment," says Patrick Scully, chief commercial officer for Daimler Buses North America. "Our new ComfortClass S 407 is built to deliver results to the operator's bottom line, which is extremely important in the current market."
Although the vehicle will make its debut at the United Motorcoach Association's EXPO in Tampa, Fla., Jan. 19 to 23, 2011, Daimler gave a sneak peek of the S 407 to a few lucky journalists last November at its facilities in Neu-Ulm, Germany.
Standing 79-inches high and 102-inches wide, the new 45-foot S 407 is identical in many ways to the S 417, including sharing the same classic "Setra Face," windows, steering system, doors, turn signal lamps, and nameplates and lettering; however it was designed to meet North American customer requirements, following a long and intensive customer survey process.
"The key message is that it is a tailor-made product based on the European market specifically for the U.S. market," says Lothar Holder, executive managing director, worldwide sales, for Setra Buses & Coaches.
Right at the beginning of the production process, Daimler's cataphoretic dip priming process provides for uniform coating of the metal surfaces and the cavities throughout the framework to guarantee optimum surface quality and protection against corrosion. The body frame also meets ECE R66 regulations, while the self-supporting space frame features a favorable weight-to-stability ratio.
Some of the differences to the TopClass exist because of its North American-specific design, such as the standard American mirror system, including lower-mounted exterior rear view mirrors, and energy absorbing safety bumpers (EASB) at the front and rear, which adds an extra foot to the vehicle.
The American-made bumper at the rear of the vehicle is sloped to prevent riders from standing and fixed to the frame-work body, while the front bumper can be folded down to allow access to the stowage compartment for the spare wheel. A solid framework structure in the front area and the EASB, which is designed to withstand an impact of 5 mph without incurring any damage, ensures full compliance with U.S. and American Public Transportation Association guidelines. The rear bumper, fitted underneath the LED rear light system developed especially for the ComfortClass S 407, also fulfils the relevant requirements.
Also at the rear of the vehicle is a solid rear wall with a closed window and a top-to-bottom LED lighting configuration consisting of a turn signal (yellow), stop/tail light (red), reverse light (white) and reflector (red). Rear-axle variants are also available to fit a customer's specific needs.
Meanwhile, LED docking lights on either side of the vehicle, as well as better lighting in front of the flaps and luggage doors and auxiliary lighting for maneuvering at low speed, provide for good all-round illumination of the bus and an impressive combination of high output and a long service life.
Of course, an important aspect of any new vehicle these days is complying with EPA 2010 emissions standards for nitrogen oxides and soot particles. With the unveiling of the revamped S 417 at last year's UMA Expo, Daimler Buses became the first manufacturer in the industry to introduce an EPA 2010-compliant coach to the market, and it used that know-how to ensure the Comfort-Class S 407 meets the necessary performance qualities.
"Our powertrain leadership and being first to the market results from Setra leveraging the experience and resources of our worldwide engineering team," says Scully.
The new coach's reworked engine compartment is equipped with a Mercedes-Benz (MB) OM 471 engine with a power output of 410 hp and maximum torque of 1,450 lbft. It is paired with an Allison WTB 500R automatic transmission, standard. The S 407 is also optionally available with an MB OM 471 rated at 450hp and offering maximum torque of 1,550 lbft. This more powerful engine is paired with a either a 12-speed ZF-AS Tronic transmission or the Allison WTB 500R.
In conjunction with the environmentally friendly EPA 10 engine, an additional tank for the diesel exhaust fluid mixture (DEF) has been integrated in the existing tank compartment for the purposes of emission control (15 gallons). The tank capacity for the S 407 is 180 gallons.
Another notable difference from past Daimler bus models is that the wheelchair lift has moved from the back of the vehicle to the middle right-hand side, to make room for engine changes made to ensure EPA 2010 compliance. The vehicle is also optionally available with a cassette wheelchair lift.
"This vehicle offers a new concept and new ideas for the North American market," says Walter Schauz, head of product projects, EvoBus GmbH.