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English   French EvoBus plant in Ligny-en-Barrois celebrates 30th anniversary
13.07.2011 von admin

30 years of the Ligny plant — a varied history

Due to the strongly protectionist tendencies in the European bus business more than 30 years ago, the former Karl Kässbohrer Fahrzeugwerke GmbH in Ulm, Germany, considered investing in a bus plant in Western Europe’s largest bus market after Germany.

In 1979, the company therefore decided to establish Kässbohrer Industrie Ligny S.N.C. A total of ten million deutschmarks were invested at the time in the factory complex and the creation of a bus production facility.

According to Karl Kässbohrer, Jr., who was the manager responsible for investments at the time, Ligny-en-Barrois was selected for a number of reasons. “We saw that the location was ideal for a plant in France,” he says. “In addition to the location’s size and the possibilities for expansion, the site benefited from its good links to National Highway 4 and the railroad line from Paris to Strasbourg, the local workforce pool in the only slightly industrialized region and the wholehearted support of the local authorities.” The entire project was conducted under favorable conditions resulting from the increasingly closer integration of the European economy. The only stipulation that the French authorities made was that 50 percent of the buses produced in Ligny had to be exported.

The plant’s first director was the engineer Jean Lendenmann, who held this position for 15 years until his retirement. Lendenmann had a lot of energy and enthusiasm, which helped him to successfully complete the facility’s construction and its integration into the Lorraine region’s economy and into the Kässbohrer Group, which operated throughout Western Europe. He only had 27 employees when he began to set up the plant and prepare it for bus production. Series production commenced in March 1981. The first Setra from Ligny was an S 215 Rational HR for intercity operations and occasional transport services. The bodies for the vehicles made in Ligny were transported by rail from Ulm and were initially still assembled under the guidance of experienced colleagues from the latter facility.

Back in the days: Bus bodies are brought via train from the former Kässbohrer plan in Ulm to Ligny. Background the Ulmer Münster cathedral.

But the skilled workers in Ligny quickly mastered their assigned tasks, and the slogan “Le Setra qui vient de France” (“The Setra from France”) became a byword for the high quality of the French bus industry. With the same rapidity, the Setra vehicles became the second best-selling buses on the French market.

Photos and text:
Daimler AG

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