The making of a bus – MAN Lion’s City DD

The first two MAN Lion’s City Face-lifted Double-Decker Buses made their revenue service debut on 14 February 2017. A total of 122 buses were acquired in total, featuring a face-lifted design with aesthetic modifications to the front and rear, as well as USB Charging Ports.

In this article, we show how the MAN Lion’s City DD is being assembled for the Singapore market. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced the purchase of 122 units in September 2016, with deliveries expected to complete by end-2017.


Public Buses form the backbone of the Singapore Public Transport scene, with an average daily ridership of 3.89 million in 2015 and increasing. There are over 5,300 buses currently in operation, running on scheduled services across the island, making public buses a ubiquitous sight in Singapore. They come in many types and models, from double-deck to single-deck and articulated buses, produced by a variety of European companies such as MAN, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, Scania and Alexander Dennis.

Just north of our borders, a factory in Malaysia builds many of the MAN and Scania transit buses that operate on our roads. Gemilang Coachworks Sdn. Bhd., is a bus bodybuilder that builds and assembles a variety of city buses and coaches for the local and international market, with Singapore being its main customer.

Gemilang Coachworks

Gemilang Coachworks - Main Entrance
Gemilang Coachworks – Main Entrance

Established in 1989, Gemilang Coachworks designs and manufactures buses for its core market in Singapore and Malaysia, as well as developing markets in Australia, Hong Kong, China and India. The company sells its products in two forms – (i) in the form of bus bodies (SKDs and CKDs) for local assembly and onward sales; and (ii) in the form of whole buses (CBUs) which are assembled onto chassis for direct delivery.

Between 2006 to 2010, Gemilang Coachworks built knock-down kits for SBS Transit’s Scania K230UB buses, only 3 of which were assembled by Gemilang themselves. The majority of the 1,101 buses were built in Singapore by ComfortDelGro Engineering or SC Auto. Also around 2006, knock-down kits were built for SMRT’s Mercedes-Benz OC500LE buses, with all 134 buses assembled by Thonburi Bus Body of Thailand. 

Around 2009, Gemilang Coachworks also built and delivered its first double-deck bus, a Scania K310UD for SBS Transit, registered SBS7888K. In 2013, it followed up with a Volvo B9TL, fitted with a prototype bodywork for SBS Transit and registered SBS7777Y. 

From 2011, Gemilang Coachworks built and assembled whole buses for SMRT on the MAN chassis, using the MAN Lion’s City bodywork design. Originally available only as an integrated product from MAN, Gemilang Coachworks was awarded a license to reproduce the design. Between 2011 and 2015, it built 734 MAN NL323F buses for SMRT, along with 40 MAN NG363F buses, built with the Lion’s City Hybrid and Lion’s City G bodywork respectively. From 2013 to 2017, the MAN A95 was also produced by Gemilang with the Lion’s City DD bodywork.

The production these bodywork kits, along with the assembly of whole buses, are performed at Gemilang Coachworks’ factory in Senai, Johor Bahru, Malaysia.


Bus Assembly

Gemilang Coachworks - MAN A95 bus assembly line
Gemilang Coachworks – MAN A95 bus assembly line 1
Bus Assembly Flowchart
Bus Assembly Flowchart

The bus assembly process starts with completed MAN A95 chassis units, built in Germany and shipped to the factory. Gemilang then begins by building the bus in stages, starting with the aluminium superstructure followed by the interior components. There are a total of three assembly lines.

The MAN A95 utilises the EcoRange System, an aluminum-based construction developed by Constellium. It facilitates the use of bolted connections, reducing the usage of rivets and eliminating the need for welding during the assembling and mounting of the aluminium superstructure onto the chassis.

Assembly is largely undertaken in five stages:

1.  Construction of body structures

The construction of body structures starts with various structural components (such as those supplied as a SKD kit), and a chassis frame. Gemilang usually works closely with the chassis manufacturers to identify the critical dimensions for setup and levelling. This process can be seen as ‘Stage 1’ on the right side of the above photo.

2.  Assembly onto chassis 

The body structure is then mounted on the chassis. For steel buses, a body-on-frame construction method is used, and the superstructure is welded onto the chassis. On the other hand, for aluminium body structures such as those used on the MAN A95, the five major superstructure parts (front frame, rear frame, left and right side frames and roof) are bolted together, part by part, onto the chassis. This process can be seen on the left side of the above photo, under ‘Line A’.

3.  Panelling

Panelling consists of exterior and interior panelling, where all the panels are moulded and secured onto the body structure to enclose the bus.

Gemilang Coachworks - MAN A95 bus assembly line
Gemilang Coachworks – MAN A95 bus assembly line 2

4.  Installation of exterior and interior accessories

Installation of exterior accessories includes the installation of doors, windows, windshields and other systems on the bus. An integral part of the bus assembling process also involves the installation of interior fixtures and accessories. The interior layout and requirements are based on bus transportation operator’s specifications covering various aspects including aesthetics, safety as well as optimising the number of passenger seats and luggage space. This process can be seen on the right side of the above photo, under ‘Line B’.

5.  Coatings

Coatings are part of body surface finishing works, protecting the bus from corrosion as well as for aesthetics purposes. The Gemilang factory has four spray booths, which are purpose-built structures with proper ventilation and filtration systems.


Final Fitting Works

Gemilang Coachworks - MAN A95 Facelift buses undergoing final fitting works
Gemilang Coachworks – MAN A95 Facelift buses undergoing final fitting works

At this stage, the bus is structurally complete. As part of the final fitting process, electronic components throughout the bus are wired up and additional fixtures are installed. 

Finally, completed buses are parked around the factory floor, awaiting delivery to Singapore.


Factory Expansion

Gemilang Coachworks - Assembled MAN A95 Facelift buses and chassis in storage, awaiting delivery to Singapore
Gemilang Coachworks – Assembled MAN A95 Facelift buses and chassis in storage, awaiting delivery to Singapore

As production at the existing Senai facility was almost at full capacity since 2013, Gemilang Coachworks further expanded their manufacturing facility in Johor with a new facility nearby, increasing their aggregate bus and bus body production capacity by approximately 20 buses per month. This new facility is primarily used for storage and material preparation, which frees up space and capacity at the existing Senai facility to focus on bus production (i.e CBU).

The above photo shows assembled MAN A95 Facelift buses awaiting delivery to Singapore, and other MAN A95 chassis in the background, awaiting assembly. The blue building in the background is used for the fabrication of body panels.

Gemilang Coachworks - MAN A95 Facelift (SG5817R) with unassembled MAN A95 chassis in the background
Gemilang Coachworks – MAN A95 Facelift (SG5817R) with unassembled MAN A95 chassis in the background

Production of other MAN Buses

From 2011, Gemilang Coachworks built and assembled whole buses for SMRT on the MAN chassis, using the MAN Lion’s City bodywork design. Originally available only as an integrated product from MAN, Gemilang Coachworks was awarded a license to reproduce the design. Between 2011 and 2015, it built 734 MAN NL323F buses for SMRT, along with 40 MAN NG363F buses, built with the Lion’s City Hybrid and Lion’s City G bodywork respectively.

In 2013 and 2015, Gemilang Coachwork was awarded the annual MAN Body Builder Award by MAN for most bus bodies built on MAN chassis. It clinched the same award for 3rd most bus bodies built in 2014.


Assembly of other buses

Local Alexander Dennis Enviro500 buses have their chassis built in Johor Bahru, Malaysia and assembled with the Enviro500 MMC bodywork in Zhuhai, China before being shipped completely-built-up (i.e. as a completed bus) to Singapore. Except for SMB5001A, all Enviro500 buses in Singapore are assembled there, by Zhuhai Granton Bus And Coach Co., Ltd. (珠海市廣通汽車有限公司) [Link].

As with thousands of other units around the world, the Mercedes-Benz Citaro bus is completely built up by EvoBus, from its monocoque structure to its interior features, then shipped as a completed bus to Singapore. Local Citaros are produced in Mannheim, Germany.

Volvo B9TL buses were assembled locally. Bodywork components in complete knock-down (CKD) form were shipped from Wrightbus, based in Ballymena, Northern Ireland. At the Bus Assembly facility in Hougang Depot run by ComfortDelGro Engineering (SBS Transit’s technical counterpart), buses were assembled and tested before being registered and put into service island-wide.


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