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Anniversary of a pioneer – 175th birthday of Heinrich Büssing

He was a pioneer of German truck and bus/coach construction – Heinrich Büssing. The 175th anniversary of the birth of the renowned Braunschweig industrialist takes place in June. Many of his achievements drove forward the commercial vehicle industry significantly – including at MAN, whose logo features the Büssing lion.

  • Heinrich Büssing was born 175 years ago
  • MAN Truck & Bus continues the legacy of Büssing AG, which it took over in 1971
  • The previous Büssing site in Salzgitter is an important part of the MAN production network as a component plant and logistics site

The city of Braunschweig will soon be celebrating one of its most notable sons – the entrepreneur Heinrich Büssing would have been 175 years old on 29th June 2018. As an engineering pioneer in truck and bus/coach construction, the inventor obtained a total of around 250 patents and founded several companies. One of them, later called Büssing AG, ranked among the most important employers in Braunschweig. "Heinrich Büssing was a visionary and pioneer. His technical innovations had a significant influence on commercial vehicle construction. As recognition for his achievements, MAN included the Büssing lion in its logo after the takeover of the company," states Joachim Drees, Chief Executive Officer at MAN Truck & Bus. The Braunschweig lion still adorns the radiator grille of MAN Truck & Bus vehicles today. "It has long since become a logo steeped in tradition for MAN." And MAN prides itself on its roaring success.

MAN and Büssing established a business relationship on 17th January 1967 with the aim of supplying each other with units and supplementing their respective sales ranges with each others' vehicle types. "This cooperation formed the basis for the later takeover," states Drees, recalling the long-standing connection between the companies. MAN finally took over the management of Büssing in 1971 and took over the Büssing plants in Braunschweig and Salzgitter in 1972. "Salzgitter still plays a significant role in the production network of our company today. MAN also benefited from the expertise of Büssing – such as in the case of the underfloor engine and when constructing bus/coach double-deckers."

How it all began – Heinrich Büssing founded his company 115 years ago

In 1903, at the age of 60, Heinrich Büssing founded the company "Heinrich Büssing, Specialfabrik für Motorlastwagen, Motoromnibusse und Motoren, Braunschweig" (Heinrich Büssing, specialist factory for motorised trucks, motorised buses/coaches and engines, Braunschweig) with his sons Max and Ernst. He previously worked as the technical manager at the railway signal construction company "Max Jüdel & Co.". However, his passion was always for motor vehicles, particularly trucks and buses/coaches. Büssing's inventive genius and strong entrepreneurial spirit ensured that his company soon became an important part of the commercial vehicle industry. As the first German manufacturer, he concentrated solely on designing and producing commercial vehicles. With numerous innovations and inventions, the entrepreneur and his employees drove forward commercial vehicle construction significantly.

Büssing started building chassis for England as early as 1904, and in the subsequent years supplied a total of 400; they were used as a substructure for the first London buses with upper decks. They were the predecessors to today's double-deckers. Just two years later, Büssing also supplied buses with upper decks to Berlin. In the same year, the Braunschweig-based company also began collaborating with Continental to develop the first pneumatic tyres. A further milestone – the first three-axle bus/coach in the world with two driven rear axles was introduced in 1924.

Heinrich Büssing died in 1929 at the age of 86. His sons continued to lead the company. It also carried on making a name for itself in the subsequent years with technical innovations – a motorway bus/coach with two diesel engines, each with 140 hp, was developed from 1934 to 1935, and in 1935 the underfloor engine (which was installed in a commercial vehicle for the first time in 1949) was registered as a utility model and German imperial patent.

The directors decided to build a new assembly plant in Salzgitter in the 70s. The first truck rolled off the assembly line on 25th June 1964. Buses/coaches were also produced at the 600,000-square-metre plant. MAN Truck & Bus is currently converting the Salzgitter site, which has a plant area of over 1.1 million square metres, to a component plant and international parts provider. Büssing's legacy lives on.

A Büssing model V transports two narrow-gauge railway locomotives (1912)
The first propshaft drive truck, Büssing model II, with electric front headlights and gas clearance lamps (1914)
From 1904 Büssing built a total of 400 chassis for England; they were used as a substructure for the first London buses with upper decks
From 1906 Büssing collaborated with Continental to develop the first pneumatic tyres