Buslovers – In the year 1951, technicians from Daimler Benz, accompanied by Brazilian specialists, carried out studies to analyse the viability of producing vehicles in Brazil. Two years later, on 7 October 1953, Mercedes-Benz do Brasil was officially founded, having as its first president Alfred Jurzykowski. A plant was then built in São Bernardo do Campo (a city neighbour to São Paulo city) in São Paulo State, Brazil. On 28 September 1956 the plant was inaugurated in the presence of the then President of Brazil, Juscelino Kubitschek. This date marks the birth of the Brazilian vehicle industry.
Until 1958 only lorries were produced in the Brazilian plant, and local body builders used lorry chassis to make buses. In 1958, the integral bus Mercedes-Benz O321 H also started to be produced in Brazil, supplying the Brazilian market as well as the market of other South American countries (although some Latin-American operators also bought European-made Mercedes-Benz buses). For instance, 550 units of Brazilian-made O321 integral buses were exported to Argentina in 1961, and other 300 units were exported to Venezuela in 1965.
In 1963, a front-engine bus chassis was unveiled, based on the LP 321 lorry. New versions of this chassis as well as new versions of the O 321 integral bus were presented the following year.
The first integral bus tailored to the Brazilian market was the O 326, a rear-engine coach unveiled in 1966. It featured the turbo-charged OM 326 engine delivering up to 200 hp. One year later, a new front-engine bus chassis was also unveiled – the LPO 344, also based on a lorry chassis.
In 1969 a new rural- and urban-service bus was presented by Mercedes-Benz do Brasil. Designated O 352, this integral bus was equipped with a direct-injection diesel engine. Two new front-engine chassis were presented that same year – the LPO 1113 and the LPO 1520.
During the 1970s the plant in São Bernardo do Campo was being expanded to meet with the increasing demand for the production of commercial vehicles. By the end of that decade, Mercedes-Benz had produced more than 500,000 commercial vehicles in the Brazilian plant, about 4,000 of which were integral buses.
In 1970, the rear-engine OH 1313 and the front-engine OF 1313 bus chassis were unveiled. One year later, a new integral coach was unveiled – the O 362 – featuring a larger luggage compartiment than its predecessor, the O 321. Yet another integral bus was presented by Mercedes-Benz do Brasil – the O 355 – in 1974. The OH 1517 rear-engine chassis was also presented that year.
One year after the first three-axle bus was built in Brazil (based on the Mercedes-Benz LPO 1113 front-engine chassis) made its debut in 1977, the new O 364 integral bus was presented by Mercedes-Benz do Brasil in two versions – one with a 130-hp engine, and the other with a 170-hp engine. Also in 1978 the production of the O 362 was discontinued, after more than 35,100 units were produced in Brazil.
Since the demand for buses was growing by that time, a new plant was inaugurated in Campinas (a city in São Paulo State, Brazil), dedicated only for the production of buses. This plant was considered the biggest and most modern plant dedicated for the production of buses in the Western World. Meanwhile, the plant in São Bernardo do Campo was still being expanded.
In 1984 two new integral bus range were presented by Mercedes-Benz do Brasil. One of them was O 370 coach range, available in two- and three-axle versions. It was the first coach range produced by Mercedes-Benz do Brasil fitted with air suspension as standard. The other was the O 365 regular-service bus range. In 1987 the O 370 and O 365 bus ranges were succeeded by the O 371 range (made up by three coaches and three regular-service bus models).
In 1991 the company inaugurates the Centro de Desenvolvimento Tecnológico (or Technological Development Centre in English) in Brazil. This is, until today, the largest of its kind in Latin America. Some of the projects developed by the Centro de Desenvolvimento Tecnológico in Brazil were the natural gas engine M-447 hLAG, used in the natural-gas-powered Citaro, and the cost-effective improvements made in the Axor truck worldwide.
In 1994, Mercedes-Benz do Brasil presented the O 400 integral bus range, which included one standardised city bus, four coaches and the O 400 UPA articulated bus – the first articulated bus produced by Mercedes-Benz in Brazil, which came into production only in 1995. This vehicle featured an electronic-managed articulation developed by the company. In that same year, Mercedes-Benz reached an 85%-share in the commercial vehicles market in Brazil. In the following year, Mercedes-Benz do Brasil received the ISO 9001 and the VBA 6.1 certifications.
In 1996 a new version of the O 371 integral bus for regular-service operation was presented. However, months later Mercedes-Benz announced the end of integral bus production in Brazil. A statement was made in which the company announced it would henceforth focus on the production and development of bus chassis and platforms, and so it occurred.
Bus production was relocated in the São Bernardo do Campo plant in 2000, when the Campinas industrial complex was dedicated for activities related to training and overseeing the dealership network in Brazil, parts and accessories distribution and technical assistance.
Nowadays, under the umbrella of DaimlerChrysler do Brasil, the bus chassis produced by Mercedes-Benz in Brazil supply the Brazilian market and are exported for countries in the Americas, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Amongst the buses produced by Mercedes-Benz in Brazil are the O 500 modular bus chassis series, which includes chassis made for urban and rural applications (available in raised- and low-floor versions) as well as coach chassis, the OH rear-engine bus chassis series, the OF front-engine bus chassis series and the LO mini- and micro-bus chassis series.
In 2006 DaimlerChrysler do Brasil unveiled two new articulated modular bus chassis – the O 500 MA (raised floor) and the O 500 UA (low-floor). Both are equipped with a six-cylinder-rear-mounted engine delivering 360 hp as standard. Units of the O 500 articulated bus range were purchased to operate in the BRT systems of Curitiba, São Paulo, Santiago de Chile (Transantiago) and Bogotá (Transmilenio). Wikipedia