Built of highlights – world premiere of the new NEOPLAN Skyliner in Kortrijk
- Exclusive "Sharp Cut" design
- SkyLights concept for more light and best views
- Newly developed dual-zone air-conditioning system
- Comprehensive safety concept with comfort drive suspension
- Efficient powertrain enables lowest CO2 emissions per passenger-kilometre
The NEOPLAN Skyliner is celebrating its official world premiere at the Busworld fair in Kortrijk, Belgium. MAN Truck & Bus will continue the over forty year long success story of the NEOPLAN double-decker touring coach when it launches sales of this exceptional double-decker in Kortrijk.
Since the Skyliner was previewed at the IAA 2010, a number of customer test vehicles have been gathering operational experience in the fleets of international coach operators. These customers ran the Skyliner on long-distance routes, for example – tailor-made deployment for the double-decker with up to 83 seats on its bright lower deck and panorama upper deck. Operators are thus able to offer first-class connections between cities. The consumption values of the Skyliners in customer trials amply demonstrated that this ride comfort can be combined with excellent economy: with a diesel consumption of under 30 litres per 100 kilometres, the premium double-decker displayed its high levels of efficiency. The field trials prove that the calculated CO2 values of a minimal 12 grams per passenger-kilometre when fully loaded can even be bettered in practice. The first of the Skyliners produced in series will be delivered from the beginning of 2012 on. A great many orders have already been received for the new highlight in the top coach league.
As the founder of the double-decker coach class in 1967, the Skyliner looks back not only at a long tradition but also at great popularity with the customer: more than four thousand NEOPLAN Skyliners are on the road around the world, opening up a unique dimension of luxury coach travel to their passengers. Dynamic, exclusive and packed full of innovations: in the new NEOPLAN Skyliner, the exclusive premium brand of MAN Truck & Bus AG continues with a new chapter in the successful history of the double-decker coach.
Exclusive Skyliner design – a perfect triad of form, function and ergonomics
NEOPLAN design is legendary and has in the past been awarded several prestigious international prizes. Great things were thus expected of the Bus Design team in their design of the fifth Skyliner generation. Double-decker coaches are a bus designer's biggest challenge: an almost 14-m long, 2.55-m wide and 4-m high vehicle body has to be imbued with aesthetic lightness and dynamicism while at the same time, a perfect triad of form, function and ergonomics has to be achieved. Interior designers worked intensively on selecting colours, materials and surfaces for the passenger compartment. The result is a compelling, innovative aesthetic advance in the development of the NEOPLAN Skyliner.
Clear lines and clean edges in glass and metal are combined with uncompromising aerodynamics that set new standards in the Premier League of coaches. Consistent lines and the prize-winning "Sharp Cut" design from NEOPLAN are fundamental to the Skyliner and identify the double-decker as a member of the current NEOPLAN family. In this new interpretation, traditional features such as the forward-thrusting window columns and the big two-part windscreen are harmoniously combined with new stylistic elements such as the diamond cut in the upper side windows, modelled taperings towards the rear on both sides and a striking front end. The Skyliner's "face" is distinguished by the classic, big windscreen with its horizontal division and the front apron typical of NEOPLAN with its clipped clear-glass headlights. The Skyliner is fitted with LED daytime running lights and cornering lights as standard while bi-xenon lamps are optionally available for the full and dipped beams. Direction indicators and fog lights are installed separately in the front apron. The large front radii and the curvature of the windscreen in front of the A pillars, consistent roundings and flush-fitting surfaces as well as the around 25-degree angle of the upper windscreen all contribute to the new Skyliner's outstanding aerodynamics.
The A pillars are as slim as they can be: they interfere as little as possible with the driver's all-round view and - thanks to the dark colouring of the columns - make the window appear from the outside to be uninterrupted. The generously sized windscreen curved through three dimensions and the panorama window angled far back give the Skyliner its unmistakeable look and the passengers on the upper deck a unique vista. From a lateral perspective, the panorama window bonds visually to the line of lower-deck windows. This neutralises the physical separation of upper and lower decks while at the same time emphasizing the typical visor look of the Skyliner's front end.
The Skyliner is a witness to design quality and visual finesse – just like every NEOPLAN coach since the fifties. The Skyliner's side view impresses with the new proportions of its window area, which visually extends the bodywork, lending it an air of aesthetically pleasing lightness. The double-decker coach is in no way bulky or cumbersome but makes a compact, manoeuvrable impression from every angle. Upper-deck side windows running well into the roof with the characteristic diamond cut of the transparent windows along the edge of the roof further underscore the Skyliner's exclusiveness. The three-axle vehicle's angled wheel arches emphasize its dynamic character. Thanks to clear and consistent lines and strikingly accentuated design elements, the designers were able to do without trendy decoration, which would have contradicted the objective of a NEOPLAN line with its timeless elegance.
The athletic rear end of the Skyliner is formed by the downward-tapering rear window, the chromed panel with NEOPLAN lettering (and integrated reversing camera), the distinctive cooling ribs and the curved rear lights made so well known by the Starliner and Cityliner. An elegantly formed bumper is the robust-looking completion of the rear end, while the spoiler-like end of the roof contributes to a reduction in drag. Thanks to exhaustive simulations and uncounted hours of work in the wind tunnel, the aerodynamic properties of the Skyliner bodywork are unmatched. Large front radii, the angled panorama window, the smooth bodywork with its flush-set doors and hatches as well as the aerodynamically optimised rear end all combine to produce a drag coefficient (cW) of only 0.41 – a value that up to now had never been achieved by a double-decker coach and one equivalent to that of a modern medium-class van. The Skyliner's outstanding aerodynamic characteristics pay off for the coach operator in the form of lower fuel consumption and hence lower fuel costs, while the passengers will enjoy hearing even less wind noise. The result of this aerodynamic optimisation is a reduction in consumption calculated at around five percent at a constant speed of 100 km/h on the motorway. And for the environment, this means one of the lowest CO2 emissions per passenger-kilometre, currently unrivalled by any other commercially available type of transport.
The Skyliner's developers consciously used components that had also been employed for the NEOPLAN Starliner and/or Cityliner, for example rear lights, headlights, flaps and glazing. This reduces the number of variants used in the range of NEOPLAN models, bringing with it benefits for the customer. The use of identical parts increases the security of spare-parts supply and decreases costs in the event of accident damage.
Travel at the highest level - the exclusive interior of the new Skyliner
The exterior of the new Skyliner arouses the expectations of the passengers boarding the new double-decker coach. Two wide doors and a low entrance height of under 36 cm enable comfortable access to a new dimension of coach travel. Thanks to a great number of innovations and clever design ideas, the developers of the Skyliner have succeeded in creating an interior with an expanded seating capacity that gives every single passenger maximum freedom of movement, best views and the highest level of seating comfort.
The new Skyliner has space for up to 83 seats (plus driver and courier) along its length of 13.99 metres. Its lower deck is designed as an "action zone", where passengers can board and move through to the upper deck quickly and comfortably and where the face-to-face seats with generously sized tables, the galley and a toilet are located. Access to last-mentioned does not require steps to be negotiated. With its standing height of 1.81 m and a wide aisle, the lower deck is the ideal place for action. The generous glazing floods the lower deck with light, effectively cancelling the cave-like atmosphere experienced on the lower decks of other double-deckers. The easily accessible seating groups, self-supporting luggage racks and NEOPLAN's characteristic service sets for every seat with their rotatable ventilation jets, individually controlled LED reading lights and integrated attendant call make for exceptional passenger comfort. At least three 10.5-inch LCD monitors enable passengers on the lower deck to watch the trip at road level (via a camera installed in the dashboard) or a film run from the DVD player, regardless of whether they're seated facing or with their backs to the direction of travel.
From the lower deck, two comfortable stairways lead to the upper deck - the luxurious rest area of the new Skyliner with a standing height of 1,680 mm. Triangular windows on the driver's side and behind Door 2 plus transparent panels on the stairs admit lots of daylight into the stairways – the brightness practically invites the passengers to go upstairs.
Awaiting the passengers upstairs is a lounge area suffused with light that has no peer on the double-decker coach market. The side windows running up into the roof, the new windows in the domed front above the first row of seats and emergency exits glazed as standard create an incomparably light, bright atmosphere on the upper deck – we call this concept "SkyLights". First seen on the NEOPLAN Starliner in 2004, these upper windows set into the roof are clearly reminiscent of the glazing along the edge of the roof typical of the NEOPLAN buses of the forties and fifties. The impression of space on the upper deck is enhanced still further because unlike the Starliner passenger, the Skyliner passenger sits directly beneath the SkyLights. Thanks to the approximately forty-degree angle of vision one can, particularly from the outer seats, see almost vertically upwards and drink in mountain and city panoramas. Moreover, the passengers in the outermost seats have considerably more headroom than before. Besides the curved panorama window, the big SkyLight in the domed front is an extra for the passengers in the first row - at around half a square metre, it turns that row into a mobile panorama terrace. The vehicle has three glass roof windows with emergency-exit function as standard: if in addition to these, two more are ordered as options, the roof is almost entirely glass.
The new Skyliner's big windows are fitted with effective protection against UV rays, so that even in strong sunlight the passenger compartment doesn't heat up unpleasantly and the air-conditioning system doesn't have to be operated at maximum power. This also makes its contribution to energy-saving.
For night trips, pleasant ambient lighting ensures that staff and passengers on board the Skyliner are able to orientate themselves and move about: LED strip lights set harmoniously into the floor, into the steps in the stairway and the open stowage spaces illuminate discreetly without disturbing either the view to the outside or those passengers who wish to sleep. Individually controlled LED lamps at every seat provide light for those who prefer to read. In addition, the upper deck of the Skyliner is equipped with two 19-inch monitors as standard.
The perfect climate - newly developed dual-zone air-conditioning system for even more comfort
Double-decker coaches are a big challenge for air-conditioning systems. For the fifth Skyliner generation, the entire system has been newly developed. The conventional aircon in the rear of the coach is now responsible for the upper deck alone, while the lower deck has two evaporators of its own, each delivering nine kilowatts. Thanks to the dual-zone air-conditioning system, the driver is able to regulate temperatures on the upper and lower decks separately from each other better than ever before.
At the same time, the air-conditioning system is much more powerful: the maximum cooling performance available in the new Skyliner is 56 kW, which is almost 40 percent more than in its predecessor. Not only that, but due to a modified roof construction with bigger air ducts, air throughput has been increased by 25 percent relative to the previous model. What this means for passengers is ventilation that is more effective while also being draught-free. The noise emitted by the ventilation has simultaneously been reduced still further. The new Skyliner's overall air-flow rate is a tremendous 14,700 m3/h and its maximum heating output 96.6 kW.
Away with the bags - Skyliner luggage compartment provides increased volume
The new Skyliner has more space to offer - not just for passengers and crew, but also for their luggage. The luggage compartment benefits from the bigger overhang as well as from the new air-conditioning concept: because there are now separate systems for the upper and lower decks, the new Skyliner no longer needs the air ducts that its predecessor had to have in order for the rear aircon to supply cool air to the lower deck. This made it possible to expand the space for luggage up to eleven cubic metres - unparalleled amongst the Skyliner's competitors. What's more, the compartment, which is largely free of edges, is highly accessible via big hatches on both sides of the vehicle, via a door on the left side and even (optionally) via the galley.
Five-star accident protection - safety is standard on the Skyliner
The new Skyliner's body structure has been further improved in accordance with ever more stringent requirements in terms of safety. Weight-optimised tubing of high-strength steel with a greater diameter forms the supporting frame, which is reliably protected against corrosion by cathodic dip painting. Surrounding frame elements and a solid rollover bar in front form a highly stable passenger cell that provides the best protection for passengers in the event of an accident. Following the example of the Starliner and Cityliner, the forebody of the new Skyliner has been equipped with a reinforced front structure, which can absorb significantly more energy than its predecessor should a collision occur.
But so that the passive safety systems are never needed, the double-decker coach is also equipped with every driver assistant system MAN has to offer: safe braking is the province of the electronic braking system (EBS) with its anti-blocking system (ABS) and braking assistant (BA). Together, the anti-slip regulator (ASR) and the electronic stability program (ESP) with integrated roll-over prevention ensure that the new Skyliner stays on course and on the road, even in critical situations, by braking individual wheels selectively and if necessary, by automatically cutting back engine torque. Maximum speed control (MSC), adaptive cruise control (ACC) and the lane guard system (LGS) assist drivers in performing their responsible driving tasks and have been proven to decrease accident risk significantly. Last but not least, the tyre-pressure monitoring system (TPM) reliably prevents tyre damage and the critical driving situations that can occur as a result of sudden loss of pressure in a tyre. Thanks to tyre management it is no longer even necessary to carry a spare tyre and the stowage space on the lower deck can be used for other purposes.
All seats in the NEOPLAN Skyliner are fitted with two-point seatbelts: passengers seated in the more prominent locations are protected by means of three-point belts. Three-point belts on all seats are available as an option. A fire-alarm system that monitors the engine compartment and auxiliary heating with thermal sensors and the luggage compartment, toilet and main switch panel with optical sensors rounds off the Skyliner's comprehensive safety program. Optionally, a fire-extinguishing system is available. These safety factors make the Skyliner the safest touring coach in its class - a weighty argument for operators when competing for passengers.
Skyliner fitted with comfort drive suspension as standard - unique in the double-decker coach class
The NEOPLAN Skyliner marks the first time that electronically controlled comfort drive suspension (CDS) has been installed as standard in a double-decker coach. This system continuously adjusts the shock absorber hardness to the optimal degree of damping for safe handling and maximum ride comfort. A dense network of sensors ascertains current road conditions, the actions of the driver, load and handling and within milliseconds, adjusts every damper to its optimal setting. It is particularly on double-deckers, with their relatively high centers of gravity, that CDS is able to fully utilise its strengths: driving stability and safety are considerably increased by CDS, resulting in a noticeable decrease in stress and thus wear and tear on the tyres and other components of the vehicle. And the Skyliner's passengers will also have reason to be grateful for CDS: the active suspension produces a marked reduction in rolling and pitching movements of the body.
The Skyliner – a great workplace for every bus driver
The new Skyliner also offers increased comfort and safety to its driver; only rested, highly motivated drivers are able to fulfil their tasks, which entail a great deal of responsibility, one hundred percent. This is why the new Skyliner has a driver's workplace that leaves nothing to be desired. Even big drivers will find a comfortable position behind the new multifunction steering wheel - there is no lack of space in the Skyliner. The new coach cockpit from NEOPLAN, which is also installed in both Starliner and Cityliner, provides an excellent view of the circular instruments and the driver information display; the buttons and switches are all clearly laid out and conveniently located. Standard equipment includes the TopLine multimedia center with navigation system and 6.5-inch colour monitor, and the navigation information can also be displayed on the passenger monitors. The multifunction steering wheel enables drivers to operate central functions for the sound system, ACC and so on without taking their hands off the wheel. New is also the remote control function for the central locking system integrated into the vehicle's key, which allows the two doors to be opened and locked separately.
Reliable and economical thanks to proven large-series technology
Double-decker touring coaches are exclusive vehicles – the European market is, quite clearly, only a niche market. Despite this exclusiveness, the operators of these vehicles expect the same high quality and reliability they know from other bus series. This is why when constructing the new Skyliner, NEOPLAN has used tried and trusted system components from the MAN modular kit for the suspension, the engine and the electrical/electronic systems.
The Skyliner's suspension sets new standards in its class for dynamics, comfort and agility. In front, the well-known MAN/NEOPLAN independent suspension is employed while at the rear, the efficient hypoid drive axle (i = 3.36) has been installed together with an electrohydraulically steered trailing axle. Wheelbase is 6,700 + 1,470 mm, turning circle is 23.3 m. The gross weight of this three-axle vehicle is almost 26,000 kg, unladen it tips the scale at between 18,000 and 18,500 kg, depending on the configuration.
Commensurate power is provided by the modern, economical MAN D26 common-rail engine, which delivers 371 kW (505 hp) and a maximum torque of 2,300 Nm at between 1,000 and 1,400 rpm. As standard, power from the Skyliner's engine is transmitted to the rear axle via an automated 12-speed transmission: the MAN TipMatic® Coach, with its special manoeuvring mode and EasyStart for pulling away, changes gear fast, precisely and extremely comfortably. Its sales launch will see the Skyliner being offered exclusively in the EEV emission class.
Of course, Skyliner operators benefit from the comprehensive range of services offered by MAN Truck & Bus, which enables them to concentrate on their core business. And if the Skyliner does have to pull into a workshop one day, a tightly knit service network based at more than 1,400 outlets throughout Europe plus the new MAN BusTOPService are available.