Setra history
SetraClassic

Setra history

A true success story.

There are not many moments in automotive history that deserve the phrase “turn of an era”. One of these moments is closely associated with the name Setra. When Otto Kässbohrer presented the first bus with a self-supporting body in 1951, it was a small revolution. His completely new design was the result of visionary thinking and clear customer orientation.

“A new Setra bus was always the new benchmark.”

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The Ulm fishing district is the oldest neighbourhood in the city of Ulm, Germany. It is also where the “Haus zur Weinrebe” has stood for the last 500 years – in today’s Fischergasse 23. It was built in 1480 and witnessed several Kässbohrer generations growing up, as it did Karl Kässbohrer’s father Georg and his eight siblings. Since the 1990s, the “Haus zur Weinrebe” has been home to the Setra Museum, which tells the story of the Kässbohrer family and coach production in Ulm since the 19th century. It is a place steeped in history where the roots of the city of Ulm and those of the Kässbohrer family converge.

Prosperity comes to Ulm with the Danube shipping trade

1560: The “Ulmer Schachtel”

Prosperity comes to Ulm with the Danube shipping trade

In 1560, Jörg Keßbohrer, who had come to Ulm from Esslingen as a fisherman and rafter, married Anna Schwarzmann from the same community. The family made a living from the Danube shipping trade with self-made Viennese barges. In addition to Vienna, they also journeyed to Regensburg, Passau, Linz, Budapest and Belgrade, carrying both goods and passengers. They bestowed Ulm with an excellent reputation in other countries.

Barges like these are still used today as working, fishing and recreational boats. With their flat design, they are also ideal for use by volunteer fire-fighters in flood rescue operations along the rivers.

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Like so many of his ancestors, Georg Käßbohrer (1836-1919), grandfather to Karl, was a ship owner. Well into his later years, he was active in the traditional boating trade and, in fact, he built the last original Viennese barges. Towards the end of the 19th century, he saw that journeys in the Ulmer Schachtel were less and less in demand, so he allowed four of his six sons to enter professions other than traditional shipbuilding.

Georg Käßbohrer was a rather small, very strong and tough man. Even in his older years, Georg still rowed alone on the fast-flowing Danube to his Schopperplatz, as seamen’s workshops in Ulm were called at the time. In order to survive in the harsh world of the shipping community, Georg Käßbohrer followed very strict principles. Nonetheless, his distinctively wrinkled face usually wore a slightly mischievous smile, and a smouldering cigar stump was always seen in the corner of his mouth. In 1909, a passenger made a portrait of him aboard an Ulmer Schachtel, which Georg Käßbohrer navigated down the Danube to Vienna.

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Karl Kässbohrer (1864-1922) was the familys third son. Whereas his older brothers learned the craft of shipbuilding, another more promising career was chosen for Karl by his father Georg. So, Karl Kässbohrer completed an apprenticeship as a wheelwright and wagon-maker in the workshop of a well-known Ulm master, from whom he learned the production of wheels, wagons and other agricultural implements made of wood. Before he opened his first wagon-building business in Ulm in 1893, Karl worked with well-known wagon-makers for close to ten years in Vienna, the former stronghold of the “fine carriage construction trade”. These formative years were of great significance to his later entrepreneurial activities.

Start of the wagon-building business

Start of the wagon-building business

With this advertisement, 29-year-old Karl Kässbohrer announced the opening of his business on 5 September 1893 in the Ulmer Tagblatt daily newspaper.

Start of the wagon-building business

With this advertisement, 29-year-old Karl Kässbohrer announced the opening of his business on 5 September 1893 in the Ulmer Tagblatt daily newspaper. In 1897, the first bridge wagon was delivered and, at the turn of the century, the following notice was included in a supplementary brochure: “Production of luxury and commercial vehicles”. Beginning in 1907, the “Wagenfabrik Kässbohrer” was given the name “First Ulm Karl Kässbohrer Vehicle Body Factory” (“Erste Ulmer Karosseriefabrik Karl Kässbohrer”).

A major setback

A major setback

A devastating fire afflicts the young wagon-building operation

A major setback

Karl Käßbohrer’s wagon-building business was located in this workshop in Ulm Lautenberg. However, he was not alone with his business idea: twelve other wagonmakers competed at the location. Since new carriages were usually ordered in Stuttgart or Munich, the business initially focused on repairs, which kept the business alive. The word spread that repairs were carried out quickly, professionally and inexpensively at Karl Käßbohrer’s. So he was given more and more orders to make simple hand- and horse-drawn carriages. To differentiate himself from the competition, the young master worked with the highest quality – and this he did with great success. Unfortunately, a fire seriously damaged the operation in 1895. But the business had established itself so well in just two years of operation, that although the effects of the fire were serious, they didn’t threaten its survival.

Reaching for the stars

Reaching for the stars

This 1896 drawing of a hunting carriage designed by Karl Kässbohrer shortly after the opening of his wagon-making business shows that he had set his sights very high indeed.

Reaching for the stars

This 1896 drawing of a hunting carriage designed by Karl Kässbohrer shortly after the opening of his wagon-making business shows that he had set his sights very high indeed. Although at that time, most new carriages came from Stuttgart or Munich, this didn’t stop Karl Kässbohrer from taking on the planning of his very own carriage. Gradually, elegant carriages such as the Landauers, Victoria cars and coupés were added to his range. 1899 The first Kässbohrer coach In the late 19th century, Karl Kässbohrer introduced his first horse-drawn coach. The open coach was drawn by four horses and used for sightseeing tours. With an attachable roof, it was possible to protect up to 18 passengers from bad weather. In good weather, of course, they travelled in a “convertible”. So we can also maintain that, as early as in the 19th century, the first Kässbohrer “Omnibus” or coach was travelling the streets of Ulm, Germany. 1907 Barrels and passengers Already in 1907, Karl Kässbohrer had built a multipurpose motorised vehicle for a local brewery. The first self-propelled commercial vehicle from Ulm was used to transport beer barrels during the week and as an excursion coach on Sundays. A chassis from the Adolph Saurer Swiss Wagon Factory in Arbon was fitted with a flatbed-type structure and a canvas roof. The loading floor of this multipurpose vehicle was divided in its length. With little effort, upholstered benches and backrests could be unfolded from the cavity between the body floor and the chassis frame. In February 1910, Karl Kässbohrer was awarded a patent for the construction of this multipurpose coach. 1921 The golden twenties With 20 employees, the “Erste Ulmer Karosseriefabrik Karl Kässbohrer” entered an exciting decade. While trucks were no longer in great demand due to the dissolution of the army in the early twenties, coaches were still in demand. So, despite the production cuts that followed the First World War, coach bodies continued to emerge during this time. These included both the supporting frames and the wood cladding, usually ash or oak. Conventional truck chassis with solid rubber tyres and a high frame served as platform.

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In the late 19th century, Karl Kässbohrer introduced his first horse-drawn coach. The open coach was drawn by four horses and used for sightseeing tours. With an attachable roof, it was possible to protect up to 18 passengers from bad weather. In good weather, of course, they travelled in a “convertible”. So we can also maintain that, as early as in the 19th century, the first Kässbohrer “Omnibus” or coach was travelling the streets of Ulm, Germany.

Until the early 20th century, horse-drawn stagecoaches were not only used for sending mail, but also to transport paying passengers. This overland horse-drawn carriage was built around 1900 for the Royal Württemberg Postal Services. It could carry twelve passengers, who could choose between a first- and a second-class compartment. Karl Käßbohrer was able to show off his business acumen with this new type of vehicle, based on both feasibility and demand. The luggage compartment was shaped like a gallery and located on the roof. A section of the leather deck could be folded back. Most often the stagecoach was drawn by four horses. But sometimes, two additional horses were needed to master the steep inclines of the Swabian mountain region.

The business thrives

The business thrives

The move to Karlstraße

The business thrives

Karl Käßbohrer’s wagon-building business grew steadily. More and more orders were received, to the extent that the capacity of the first workshop was no longer sufficient. Moreover, the Lautenberg area was not an ideal location for the wagon-building business, since the vehicles had to be laboriously pushed uphill to the workshop every day. So, when the opportunity presented itself in 1903, Karl Käßbohrer acquired the property of blacksmith David Maier in the former Karlstraße.

Barrels and passengers

Barrels and passengers

The first commercial vehicle was a multipurpose truck

Barrels and passengers

Already in 1907, Karl Kässbohrer had built a multipurpose motorised vehicle for a local brewery. The first self-propelled commercial vehicle from Ulm was used to transport beer barrels during the week and as an excursion coach on Sundays.

Royal luxury

Royal luxury

Käßbohrer supplies the Royal Württemberg Court

Royal luxury

Ultimately, his business was also given the coveted title “Royal Württemberg Purveyor to the Court“ – one that only the most deserving companies were awarded, those who made regular deliveries to the court and who enjoyed both a solid economic position and an impeccable reputation

The Victoria coach

The Victoria coach

Karl Käßbohrer specialises in elegant coaches

The Victoria coach

As early as the beginning of the 20th century, Karl Käßbohrer could afford to build a new coach without having an actual order for it. If he didn’t sell it in Ulm, he could easily do so in the state capital of Stuttgart. He no longer sold predominantly heavy-load carriages for commercial use. Rather, he built more upscale vehicles, and the elegant chaises, Landauers and Victoria coaches made by Karl Käßbohrer gained awareness and respect.

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On 2 September 1910, the Ulmer Schnellpost news reported: “A committee in Wiblingen is eagerly working on a motor vehicle connection between the cities of Ulm and Wiblingen. The project has now progressed so far that a motor vehicle with 30 horsepower could be ordered from the Saurer Arbon company. The coach’s superstructure will be produced in the local Karl Käßbohrer coach factory.”

The following February marked a significant milestone in the history of the Kässbohrer company. The grandfather of all public-service buses, the Wiblinger coach, drove the Ulm-Wiblingen line for the first time. It had been built by Karl Käßbohrer, who was also part-owner of the transportation company, and who brought in his first public-service bus worth 18,000 Marks as his share. Being ahead of its time, the closed wood structure offered room for 18 sitting and 10 standing passengers. Unlike with most vehicles at the time, the driver sat in a closed cab, the first of its kind in the German automotive industry. On the roof, there was sufficient space for luggage, and the ticket for this half-hour drive could be bought from the chauffeur for 30 Pfennigs.

The bus was built on a truck chassis and equipped with a cardan shaft drive, a new drive technology at the time, which replaced the usual sprocket drive at the beginning of the 20th century. It had a transmission with four forward gears, wooden wheels with solid rubber tyres, carbide headlights and was equipped with a powerful 30-hp, water-cooled, four-cylinder petrol engine. On level roads, the coach could reach a speed of 45 km/h – 15 more than allowed. The Royal Württemberg Traffic Regulation allowed only 30 km/h outside the cities and 12 km/h in urban areas. The new bus line was a great success, and in November 1911, a second Kässbohrer bus could take up its duties. For Karl Käßbohrer, this was the crowning glory of all his previous work. Over the years, his work had matured to its technological peak with the enginedriven Wiblinger coach.

“In February 1910, Karl Kässbohrer was awarded a patent for the construction of this multipurpose coach.”

Full power ahead

Full power ahead

The Kässbohrer workshops on Karlstraße in Ulm had long stopped producing only horse-drawn carriages. They had already moved their focus more and more towards trailers for motorised delivery and commercial vehicles. Particular attention was paid to the promotion of sales. In the first issue of the new car magazine “Der Auto-Markt” in October 1911, the company advertised itself as “First Ulm Karl Kässbohrer Vehicle Body Works” (“Erste Ulmer Karosseriefabrik Karl Kässbohrer”).

Off they go!

Off they go!

The Royal Württemberg Post’s Magirus 2 CV 110 had a truck chassis and an attached, wood frame construction from Kässbohrer. 18 passengers could sit on longitudinal and transverse benches, and there was also room for six standing passengers. The vehicle was powered by a 40-hp four-cylinder engine, and gasoline consumption was 19 litres per 100 km. The foot brake was an external shoe brake, which was located behind the transmission and had to be cooled with water on long slopes. For this purpose, the driver always had a water tank next to his seat.

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With 20 employees, the “Erste Ulmer Karosseriefabrik Karl Kässbohrer” entered an exciting decade. While trucks were no longer in great demand due to the dissolution of the army in the early twenties, coaches were still in demand. So, despite the production cuts that followed the First World War, coach bodies continued to emerge during this time. These included both the supporting frames and the wood cladding, usually ash or oak. Conventional truck chassis with solid rubber tyres and a high frame served as platform.

At the beginning of the 1920s, automobile plants were always searching for new, improved design solutions. The serial production of cheaper automobiles, as practised by Ford in the United States, would not have worked in Germany at the time. Engineering individualised small series in Germany was of course expensive – but this fact also ensured good prices and ongoing business for body shops such as Kässbohrer. In 1921, Kässbohrer produced the elegant passenger car body for a Phaeton six-cylinder, which was built on a chassis from Horch, the luxury car manufacturer.

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The first success

The first success

Otto Kässbohrer receives his certificate of apprenticeship

The first success

On 1 August 1919, life became serious for young Otto as he began an apprenticeship as a wagon-builder with his father Karl Kässbohrer. True to the motto “to get to the top, you have to start at the bottom”, he would later often look back and say: “When your father is your teacher, there is no free lunch”. So, his satisfaction was especially great when, on 1 August 1922, he successfully passed his exams and received his certificate of apprenticeship.

An ideal division of labour

An ideal division of labour

Split areas of responsibility for shared success

An ideal division of labour

The brothers showed not only enormous ambition, but also the very typical Kässbohrer perseverance, coupled with a strong sense of family loyalty. From the outset, a far-sighted division of labour proved to be a guarantee of future success, steadily bringing the operation forward. Karl developed trailers for the transport industry and saw great future opportunities in this area. Otto, on the other hand, was responsible for building carriages, as well as automobile and coach bodies.

 1922 Christmas without a father

1922 Christmas without a father

The sudden death of the company founder

1922 Christmas without a father

On 26 December 1922, Karl Käßbohrer passed away unexpectedly at the age of only 58. His two sons, Karl and Otto, were just 21 and 18 years old. Karl was in the middle of pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering, and Otto had completed his training as wagon-builder in his father’s factory just half a year ago. After the death of the company founder, his sons had to reconsider their plans for the future of the company as well as their own. Should they give up the company and pursue their chosen paths, or would they be able to take their father’s place and run the business together through the crisis-ridden post-war times?

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In the late twenties, the company completely stopped building carriages, and it then separated from the passenger car sector. From that point on, it produced only bodies for coaches, trucks and trailers. This specialisation was a stroke of luck. The operation survived the recession very well and the foundation for further economic growth was laid.

The last race car with a Kässbohrer body nonetheless made a significant contribution to automotive progress. A four-cylinder V-engine with 2,370 cc and 60 hp gave the Lancia Lambda sports car a top speed of 130 km/h. It was the Porsche of its time, with a wheelbase of 3.10 m and a weight of 1,100 kg. It was, however, not agile enough for the increasingly popular mountain racing. This is why Otto Kässbohrer decided to use only the drive and engine components from Torino, and he developed a completely new automobile body without a frame, cast from a high-quality aluminium alloy in one piece for low-volume production. And this is how the first self-supporting Kässbohrer car saw the light of day: around 200 kg lighter than the factory original and extremely agile with a shorter wheelbase. For a long time, it was the uncontested winner at many car racing events.

After taking over the Neuer & Thieme body factory in Ulm in 1928, it was mainly coach production which could be further strengthened. Technically, it was the conclusion of the richly varied vehicle production through the twenties, but at the same time the beginning of the company’s successful specialisation on more comfortable, more advanced coaches. The first Kässbohrer panoramic coach with sunroofs and full glazing of its upper section were developed and produced in 1929. This coach became the prototype for many advanced models, contributing to the exceptional reputation of Kässbohrer’s coach bodies.

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Bringing many people safely and conveniently from one place to another wasn’t always the only task that Kässbohrer vehicles had to master. In the thirties, high-level versatility was demanded from the so-called combined-use coaches, since many companies operated both passenger and freight transport. The reason for this was that some operators found that purchasing a coach only for passenger transport represented too great a financial risk. As well, it was possible to save taxes by buying combined-use vehicles, which were government-subsidised. Otto Kässbohrer and his designers recognised the challenge, gave it some thought and came up with a surprisingly simple solution. So in 1930, a vehicle could be adapted to transport either people, goods, or furniture within just a few minutes and with the right superstructure, and 6-t MAN chassis could simply be repurposed from a 30-seat coach to a transport truck.

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Kässbohrer goes for the big one

Kässbohrer goes for the big one

The world’s largest saddle coach for 170 passengers

Kässbohrer goes for the big one

At the beginning of the thirties, particularly lightweight coaches were in high demand with operators. The disadvantage was that they could only carry about 40 people. This changed significantly with the idea of using semi-trailers to transport people. The largest Kässbohrer coach, which was engineered before the Second World War, was a four-axle saddle coach for 170 passengers. A Mercedes-Benz diesel was used as a towing vehicle, and despite its considerable length of 18.7 m, the coach was extremely agile. Similar models in three- and four-axle design for 80 to 100 seats were built until the end of the thirties in large numbers for all major truck towing vehicles.

The first streamlined coach

The first streamlined coach

Shaped for high speed

The first streamlined coach

Through construction of the autobahns, demand for vehicles which could drive at high speeds increased. To achieve the desired speeds with the relatively weak engines of the times, manufacturers had to build vehicles that were as lightweight and as streamlined as possible. In addition to passenger cars, coaches were also designed in a streamlined shape. And the German National Railway operated such streamlined coaches parallel to the railways for quick transportation service between cities. Of course, Otto Kässbohrer had turned to the construction of streamlined coaches early on, and in 1935 the first vehicles left the Kässbohrer factory in Ulm.

A spectacular interior

A spectacular interior

High-level comfort finds its way into the coach

A spectacular interior

Once the focus had been placed on the coach’s outer shape and its technology, it was time to give attention to developing the coach’s interior space and comfort. Height-adjustable cushioned club seats and new recliners could not only be adjusted longitudinally, but also in height and even laterally. Basket seats were installed, and soon refrigerators, on-board bars, WCs, folding tables, reading lamps, wardrobes and even radios found their way into the coach.

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“Nothing is impossible” – this statement ideally describes Otto Kässbohrer’s philosophy and business approach. Since time immemorial, he was committed to meeting his customers’ wishes, no matter how outlandish they may have been. So in 1950, an experiment was ventured on a Krauss-Maffei chassis: a high-deck panoramic coach. On the lower deck, the coach featured luggage compartments and sleepers, while the upper deck offered a magnificent view.

It was in 1950 when Otto Kässbohrer and his chief engineer Georg Wahl faced a serious problem for which they had to quickly find a solution. The emerging new Federal Republic was experiencing an economic boom and needed large quantities of truck chassis to rebuild the war-damaged cities and industrial plants. This meant that body manufacturers such as Kässbohrer could not be supplied with the required number of truck chassis. If the problem couldn’t be solved quickly, it would jeopardise the company’s survival. Fortunately, they remembered having built vehicles with self-supporting frames in the thirties. The question was whether this principle could be applied to coach manufacturing. And yes, it could! And this is how the Setra S 8, the first integral coach ever, was created. For the first time, a coach was an integrated entity and not a technological merging of the chassis and a superstructure. Even its streamlined exterior design was revolutionary. This coach was better than any of its predecessors. The installation of a rear-mounted engine with direct drive to the rear axle reduced the weight, and the coach body had a higher structural strength and therefore offered more safety.

More efficient use of space could be achieved as well as more comfort for passengers – and ultimately even more luggage space.In 1951, the moment had arrived: a photograph, showing six workers carrying a tubular frame, astounded the professional world. This design was the basis for the new coach and with it, Setra was born. It was proof that a structural frame with an integrated underbody had such high-level stability, that a coach could be built. Furthermore, the coach had finally put the whole truck chassis issue behind it.

1956: Always a step ahead

1956: Always a step ahead

In March 1955, Kässbohrer presented a highly regarded Setra innovation at the Geneva Motor Show: the compact Setra S 6. This Setra was absolutely exceptional. Its outer skin was made of aluminium, the skylights were Plexiglas, it was 6.70 m long and 2.25 m wide. However, the most innovative technology on this compact coach was undoubtedly the independent suspension of all wheels with swing axles both front and rear. Also, for the first time ever, its design used advanced automotive technologies for coach engineering. And this had tremendous impact on both ride and comfort.

1955: Across the great pond

1955: Across the great pond

In 1955, the Kässbohrer company received an unusual order from America. Continental Trailways, an American coach company, in its search for fast, spacious, comfort- able coaches for its cross-continental business, had become aware of the company from Ulm. Incidentally, it was also the first articulated coach ever seen in the USA. The “Golden Eagle” was 3.8 m high, 2.5 m wide and 18.3 m long. This “Super Setra” was fitted with adjustable reclining seats, air conditioning and a galley for maximum comfort. The quality of Kässbohrer’s American coaches was legendary, and they easily and efficiently covered up to 25,000 miles every month for Continental Trailways.

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Type S 6

Type S 8

Type S 9

Type S 10

In 1959, Setra introduced the 10 series which contributed to the breakthrough of the self-supporting body with initially six different models. This also led to the worldwide triumph of Setra coaches with sales of close to 7,500 units over 16 years. In the end, the 10 series included models S 6 through to S 15. Additionally, there was the ST 110 service bus and the first articulated coach in Europe, the SG 165. Models S 10 to S 14 were built in touring and overland travel versions, as well as in city versions. With this series, the modular principle was also introduced to coach production.

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On 19 May 1920, the Ulmer Tagblatt daily newspaper wrote in a preview to the Ulm Farmers’ Day: “Karl Käßbohrer, wagon-builder from Ulm, introduces a Bernese carriage and a perfect harness chaise.” Both vehicles found a buyer during the exhibition. The Bernese carriage was bought by Josef Wegerer, a farmer from Donaustetten. This was all long forgotten when in 1962 an unusual letter lay in the pile of daily business correspondence: “Dear Mr Kässbohrer! Many years ago, around 1920, I bought a carriage from your father. At that time, he said to me: I have a very special interest in this carriage, because it is my son’s examination project! I never forgot this. Meanwhile, I am old and I have given up my business. During this time, you have grown from a craftsman to a globally respected company. If you are interested in once again seeing the result of your craftsmanship, I would be pleased to fulfil your request. The carriage has served me well and it is still in good condition. Sincerely, Josef Wegerer, land owner, Donaustetten.” And this is how the only surviving original Otto Kässbohrer carriage found its way back home after more than 40 years.

There is a true story that goes back to 1920, Otto Kässbohrer’s formative years, and which came to an unexpected conclusion in 1962.

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The S 125 city bus.
After the Setra ST 110 was taken out of the range in 1961, Kässbohrer presented the S 125 as a prototype for a new coach generation at the 1963 IAA fair in Frankfurt. In form and design, the S 125 was a model for future urban transport coaches – including those from other coach manufacturers.

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The introduction of the 100 series was another important step towards the industrialisation of coach manufacturing. The premiere with models S 100, S 110, S 120, S 130 and S 140 was also a milestone in terms of visual development. The strong curves of the first Setra coaches gave way to clear, functional lines. And, in fact, this design is still recognisable in today’s coaches. The 100 series incorporated state-of-the-art technological knowledge and expertise. Independent front suspension and the optimised leaf and rubber suspension ensured enhanced comfort and road-holding. In sum, no less than 12,339 units of the entire 100 series with 22 models were sold.

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On 29 April 1973, the unthinkable happened for the whole operation: the CEO Karl Kässbohrer passed away unexpectedly. His death shocked not only his family but also his employees, friends, customers, as well as the many organisations and associations for which Karl Kässbohrer had volunteered his time. Otto Kässbohrer’s responsibility for the company grew with this development. He found support with his nephews Karl and Heinrich Kässbohrer, the two eldest sons of the deceased.

In January 1973, the 3.55-m-high Setra S 200 super-high-decker celebrated its premiere at the Geneva Motor Show. It impressed the audience with its streamlined design, galley, WC on the lower deck and huge luggage compartment. The rear of the three-axle coach housed a state-of-the-art 235 kW powerful ten-cylinder V-engine from Mercedes-Benz. The S 200 impressively announced a new generation of comfortable Setra coaches: the 200 series.

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1976 – Setra had just turned 25 years old, or rather young – and it was time for the successful coach family to welcome yet another generation. In this anniversary year, the coach entrepreneurs from Ulm proudly introduced their new 200 series, with no less than six different models. The S 211 H, S 212 H, S 213 H and S 215 H high-floor vehicles, each with a height of 3.09 m, and the two high-deck S 213 HD and S 215 HD coaches with a height of 3.34 m were the sensational premiering vehicles. Over the past 25 years, between 1951 and 1976, more than 20,000 Setra coaches had found their way to delighted customers.

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Kässbohrer responded to the increasing demand for vehicles with higher seating capacity with the first Setra double-decker coach. The S 228 DT quickly became the new flagship of the Setra range of coaches. The four-metre-high flagship model had two passenger decks, with a lower level height of 1.80 m and upper level height of 1.68 m. The new, streamlined front end became the hallmark of the S 228 DT. From 1982 to 1993, a total of 1,104 units of this model were sold.

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Otto Kässbohrer passed away just five months after his 85th birthday, on 20 June 1989. At the funeral, which took place in an Ulm production hall at the request of the deceased, members of the family, the company, his home town of Ulm, the automotive and coach industries paid tribute to the life work of the pioneer of the German coach industry. Otto Kässbohrer had truly “engineered and shaped the history of an entire industrial sector.”

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1991 was the starting point for the 300 series with the new ComfortClass. The most striking features of the new coaches included the distinctive swing design behind the cockpit area and the completely new integral mirror system, which gave the 300 series its unique face. In 1993, the first TopClass 300 was unveiled and launched – the S 328 DT double-decker coach. At the 1994 IAA in Hanover, the MultiClass 300 also celebrated its premiere with the overland series. A total of 15 models were produced as part of the 300 series. On 14 February 1995, the integration of Karl Kässbohrer Fahrzeugwerke into the EvoBus GmbH in Stuttgart was finalised. Thereby, the Setra trademark became a coach and bus brand of the former Mercedes-Benz AG and now belongs to the international Daimler Group, where it enjoys access to the resources of the technology leader in the automotive industry.

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After ten years on the road, the Setra 300 series, which had arisen under Kässbohrer, was replaced by the entirely redesigned 400 series. With the launch of the TopClass 400 in 2001, Setra set the tone for the entire sector. More than 6,500 vehicles from the ComfortClass 400 were delivered to customers by 2014, and more than 7,400 from the TopClass 400. Over 1,000 S 431 DT double-deckers from the TopClass 400 left the production line. And a total of 22 models from the 400 series were produced.

 

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What has made the Setra brand so successful since it was founded over 60 years ago is its passion for coaches – for true excellence, creativity and genuine partnership. The current 500 series bears witness to the fact that the legend lives on, consistently and at the highest level. In September 2012, after a four-year development period, the first models from the Setra ComfortClass 500 were presented.

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The pace was maintained with the world premiere of the new Setra TopClass 500 at the IAA for Commercial Vehicles in September 2014. With the new luxury three-axle coach, Setra once again showed that the key values of perfection, aesthetics and passion remain at the heart of the brand throughout the development of new-generation vehicles. The TopClass 500 is positioned at the very top of the touring coach summit and is the unmatched leader in a range of models that set highlights in comfort, efficiency and safety. Even with the MultiClass facelift, Setra proves its ability to innovate. With the UL overland vehicle, Setra delivers an overland bus which is perfectly tailored to performing brilliantly in the tendering business. It is highly cost-effective to purchase and maintain, and functional in its equipment. The new LE business, a low-entry bus, combines the accessibility of a low-floor vehicle in the front with an economical, easy to maintain and comfortable high-floor area at the rear.

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As a low-entry vehicle conceived to give you a real competitive edge in your tendering business, the S 418 LE business delivers many convincing answers to current requirements for barrier-free buses. And, thanks to its attractive price-performance and excellent overall cost-effectiveness, it pays for itself over a whole bus life long.

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The Setra success story continues with the delivery of the 2500th vehicle of the ComfortClass 500. Launched in 2012, the ComfortClass 500 demonstrated maximum energy efficiency in a spectacular Record Run, which proved itself until today. With the vehicles, the brand raised the bar to a new level in the areas of economy, comfort, safety and look & feel.

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After 15 years, Setra is presenting a new, fascinating double decker bus. For a luxury adventure trip or modern long-distance line: The S 531 DT unites impressive elegance, safety, overall economy and connectivity over two levels, thus providing what demanding passengers want, while at the same time meeting modern technology and efficiency requirements.

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