SMB138Y: MAN NL323F Demonstrator

MAN NL323F (SMB138Y)
MAN NL323F
MAN NL323F Demonstrator (SMB138Y)
Manufacturer MAN Truck And Bus SE
Bodywork MCV Evolution
Years in operation 2010—2012
Operator SMRT Buses

Back in 2010, as SMRT’s fleet of Mercedes-Benz O405 buses approached retirement age, there was a need for a large replacement of 12-metre buses that were both wheelchair-accessible and environmentally friendly. One such candidate was the low-floor Euro V MAN NL323F, also known as the MAN A22.

One demonstrator unit (registered SMB138Y) was operated by SMRT Buses between 2010 and 2012. The trial was eventually successful, and paved the way for bulk orders with SMRT. As of 2020, more than 800 units of the MAN NL323F are operating with Singapore public transport operators.

Main Article: MAN NL323F


SMRT MAN NL323F Demonstrator – SMB138Y

In 2010, SMRT Buses received a MAN NL323F demonstrator unit for road trials and evaluation via MAN’s local dealer, ST Kinetics (now ST Engineering Land Systems). The bus was registered on 17 December 2010 as SMB138Y, the fifth demonstrator bus received by SMRT Buses.

SMB138Y made its revenue service debut on 23 December 2010, appearing on SMRT Bus Service 961 between Woodlands and Lorong 1 Geylang and was under the control of Woodlands Bus Depot. During its time on the roads, it was also the only SMRT bus to provide free onboard Wi-Fi.

Basic Technical Specifications
Engine MAN D 2066 LUH-32 engine
Inline 6-cylinder two-stage turbocharged with intercooling, 10518cc
Power/Torque output of 235 kW (320 hp) @ 1900 rpm / 1600 Nm @ 1000 – 1400 rpm
Emission Standard Euro V compliant
Combines Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) technology with MAN’s PM-Kat® exhaust treatment system. Compliant with Euro V emission standard without requiring diesel exhaust fluids.
Transmission ZF EcoLife 6 AP 2000 B gearbox, six-speed automatic
Bodywork MCV Evolution Bodywork
Chassis built in Germany; MCV Evolution bodywork supplied by Manufacturing Commercial Vehicles (MCV) of Egypt; assembled by Soon Chow Workshop in Singapore
Capacity 38 Seating + 52 Standing = 90 Passengers
One wheelchair bay with foldable seat for two (not included in licensed capacity)
EDS Hanover Electronic Display Sign (EDS)
Connected to a Hanover Eric+ controller
Additional Features Denso LD8i roof-mounted air-conditioning
Doors by Ventura Systems
Vogelsitze System 750/3 seats
LG television unit
Onboard Wi-Fi access
Interior Specifications:

Being a low-floor bus, SMB138Y offers step-free access from entry/exit doors until the last row of seats.

For seats, SMB138Y was fitted with the standard blue, purple and red Volgelsitze seats, the interior colour scheme of choice for SMRT. The rear row of seats had just four seats, with extra space on the offside (right side) taken up by engine components. It the first SMRT bus to be equipped with a TV screen (from LG), which plays SMRT commercials. Free Wi-Fi access is also available.

Like the previously-introduced Mercedes-Benz Citaro (SMB136C) demonstrator bus, it had a single wheelchair lot equipped with a foldable seat built into the backrest, with room for 2 people. A manual wheelchair ramp is installed at the exit door.

The rear exit doors of SMB138Y were sliding plug doors supplied by Ventura Systems (based in the Netherlands), a first for public buses in Singapore. The door is pushed out of the door frame before sliding open sideways, unlike the existing swinging plug doors which rotate about the door pillar.

The sliding plug design improves safety in several ways: the reduced outward swinging distance reduces the risk of striking kerbside people and objects; and the door pillar no longer rotates, eliminating the risk of passenger injury by inadvertently using it as a grab pole. The sliding plug design would be later incorporated in production batch MAN NL323F buses (but supplied by Masats, a different manufacturer), and the later Alexander Dennis Enviro500 buses would continue to use Ventura sliding plug doors.

The driver’s dashboard was laid out in the standard MAN dashboard configuration. Unlike the Citaro demonstrator, the dashboard controls were not flipped for the right-hand-drive market, and this feature carried on into the future production batch MAN NL323F buses. As such, the dashboard layout of MAN NL323F buses are identical to that in left-hand-drive markets, with lighting controls on the left, and door controls on the right.

After its stint on Service 961, SMB138Y was later redeployed to Service 963 in 2011, making occasional appearances on 169A, 962 and 963E,. In 2012, it was transferred to Ang Mo Kio Depot (AMDEP) and redeployed to Service 985 where it would remain for the rest of its lifespan. During its time on the roads, SMB138Y had made special appearances on Bus Services 61, 75, 106, 167, 851, 852, 857, 858, 858A, 960, 963R, 966 and 971E.

Legacy

The trial of SMB138Y was ultimately successful, with SMRT initiating further purchases of the MAN NL323F chassis, albeit bodied by Gemilang Coachworks instead of MCV. A total of 734 units (Euro V) were delivered in three batches, all built to SMRT specifications, and registered from September 2011 till October 2016.

SMB138Y would continue operating on revenue service past its one-year trial period. However, following water damage to its electronics in 2012, the bus was laid up for maintenance, and never saw revenue service again.

In early 2013, the bus was returned ST Kinetics, thus marking the end of its revenue service stint on Singapore roads. It was eventually deregistered in November 2014.

SMB138Y was last sighted at Gemilang Coachworks in March 2015, where it was rebodied with the MAN Lion’s City Hybrid bodywork. Gemilang Coachworks also built the MAN A22, A24 and A95 buses for the Singapore market with bodywork designs licensed by MAN. A complete rebuild was likely necessary owing to Australian road standards, which limit the width of heavy vehicles to 2.5 metres (as opposed to 2.55m for most of the world).

The rebodied bus was displayed at the 2015 BusVic Maintenance Conference, held in July 2015 at Moonee Valley, Victoria. In November 2015, the bus was registered to Carbridge, an Australian bus company providing ground transport for airport operations. Bearing the fleet number #88, it was first registered M/O 5241, later changing registration to CVL 3187 in 2017, and then to XQ39KQ in 2020.

Miscellaneous

SBS Transit also received a low-entry MAN city bus for trial, via MAN’s local dealer, ST Kinetics (now ST Engineering Land Systems). The MAN 18.240 (or MAN A69) was registered as SBS8031J and trialled with SBS Transit between 2008 and 2010.

Between the MAN 18.240, Mercedes-Benz OC500LE and Scania K230UB, the Scania K230UB was eventually chosen for SBS Transit’s large scale fleet renewal. SBS8031J was returned to ST Kinetics at the end of the trial, with no further purchases made.

The bus would later be converted to the IMDA Lab on Wheels bus, registered PC1311R.


Gallery:

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3 thoughts on “SMB138Y: MAN NL323F Demonstrator

  • 21 June 2020 at 11:35 PM
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    In fact all the A22 Euro V should use this bodywork with rear window rather than that Hybrid body.

    Reply
  • 21 June 2020 at 10:02 PM
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    How i wish this bus was still in singapore with SMRT Buses in its original state.

    Reply

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