By: Fabian Cotter

CELEBRATING OUTSTANDING DESIGN, German commercial vehicle manufacturer MAN was crowned Design Team of the Year at the Automotive Brand Contest 2018 during the Paris Motor Show, one of the most prestigious design awards in the automotive industry, it’s reported recently.

Winning time! (L-R) Representing the MAN Design Team in Paris were Sven Gaedtke, Stephan Schönherr, Rudolf Kupitza und Holger Koos.

Against the grain of thought where many think about exceptional automotive design in terms of sleek sports cars, elegant limousines, or stylish sedans, Munich-based MAN has shattered those illusions.

The design team, headed by Holger Koos, develops a whole array of vehicles - for instance light- and heavy-duty MAN trucks, and the MAN- and NEOPLAN-branded coaches and city buses.

Every year, the German Design Council invites entries for the Automotive Brand Contest, the most important international brand and design competition for the automotive industry, it states.

The competition’s jury honours outstanding product and communication design and draws attention to the fundamental importance of brand and brand design in the automotive industry, it says.

The best design team to showcase innovative and consistent brand design wins the Team of the Year award.

"We are, of course, very proud to have had the opportunity to pick up our award here in Paris," said Holger Koos, head of design at MAN Truck & Bus.

"Well-designed vehicles are gaining significance, especially in the commercial vehicle segment, where the technological differences between the vehicles are becoming less and less pronounced. This means us designers have an important part to play making sure the brand is seen in a positive light.

"A vehicle’s design is a visual representation of its brand; this is as true for trucks and buses as it is for passenger cars," he explained.



There are, nevertheless, a few differences: for instance, the markedly different legal requirements stipulating weights and dimensions that result in the typical European trucks and buses with a flat front end, explains MAN.

Besides, reliability, longevity, and user friendliness are even more important for commercial vehicles than for passenger cars; mileage of around one million kilometres is not uncommon for these vehicles.

According to MAN, this means special attention is paid to interior design. The truck driver cab, first and foremost a workplace, also becomes a living room and a bedroom for long-haul truck drivers, it says.

Making it as easy to use as possible is always at the forefront to relieve [stress on] the drivers as much as possible.

The premise for buses and coaches is not much different, it says. At the same time, MAN and NEOPLAN vehicles are designed in a way that embodies the brands’ mission to give an exceptional creative spin to technological innovation, it adds.


Aesthetics does, of course, come into it as well, but functionality is and remains the clear priority for commercial vehicle design.

"We do not set out to design something beautiful; instead we take a creative approach to implementing technical specifications that can contain aspects like a comfortable entry, an attractive passenger compartment, or an ergonomic layout," said Koos.

"Meeting statutory and technological requirements on the one hand and fulfilling the needs of our customers, drivers, and passengers on the other while creating a ground-breaking, consistent brand design – that is the exceptional achievement of our design team," said Joachim Drees, CEO of MAN Truck & Bus AG.

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The Automotive Brand Contest 2018 was initiated and organised by the German Design Council, one of the world’s leading competence centres for communication and knowledge transfer in design.

Its foundation members currently comprise more than 290 companies.

The German Design Council was founded in 1953 as a result of the German Bundestag’s initiative to boost design competence in the German economy.

The work it does is diverse, aiming to communicate how strategic use of design can add long-term value to brands, it states.

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