Kenya has added Daimler to its list of local assemblers. The company seeks to improve its foothold in the East African region through starting the local assembly of it buses. Daimler launched the assembling of two bus models in July, boosting Kenya’s growing clout as a vehicle assembly hub. The models, Mercedes-Benz 917 and Mercedes-Benz 1730, are made in India with Brazilian built chassis. “We have so far assembled 10 chassis locally and we intend to assemble 150 more towards the end of the year,” said Daimler Buses head of marketing, sales and customer services Ulrich Bastert in Nairobi on 3rd July. The short distance buses model 917 have a 170 horsepower engine that is designed to cope with Kenya’s high altitude, while the long-haul buses model 1730, have an output of 300 horsepower. The Mercedes-Benz OF 917 RF chassis, is a raised-floor bus chassis with a front-mounted 170 hp engine. This chassis is built at our Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV) plant in the southeastern Indian city of Chennai. The chassis is ready for fitment of bus bodies seating 22 to 40 people. This model is useful for buses intended for use in schools, for shuttle services, smaller companies, and churches. The chassis is imported from India in Completely Knocked Down (CKD) form and assembled. It comes with shock absorbers, a six-speed manual gearbox, and front and rear leaf spring suspension. The 4D34i inline diesel engine powers the model, with electronic diesel control. This is the heart of the chassis, offering common rail injection with a peak pressure of 1 600 bar, an exhaust brake system that comes as standard fitment, as well as a twin-valve mechanism in both inlet and exhaust. The other model, 1730 chassis can be adapted to a wide range of applications according to Mercedes-Benz. Some of these include; the standard 4x2 commuter bus, equipped with up to 65 seats, is suitable for both rugged and city transport operations. The semi-luxury intercity coach, in a 6x2 combination, offers its 68 passengers the long version of the OF 1730 chassis. This can be converted to bus trains that are capable of seating up to 109 people plus driver. The OM 926 LA turbocharged and intercooled engine with 300 hp meets Euro II specifications powers this model. It is yet to be seen how these new models will compete with the more established bus models in Kenya from companies like Toyota and Isuzu. The new entrants say the majority of buses on Kenyan roads are built on truck chassis, which is not ideal for passengers carrying vehicles.
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