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By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE

A contract with MAN ERF UK Ltd that will pave the way for the UK’s Armed Forces to receive one of the most advanced support vehicle fleets in the world has been announced by Defence Procurement Minister Lord Bach.

The contract is worth €1.5bn and also provides for an option for approximately 2077 further vehicles. Deliveries of the vehicles will commence in 2007 and be completed in 2013. In October of last year MAN ERF UK Ltd was given the status “Preferred Bidder”, thereby beating three international competitors.

Estimates suggest that MAN has a 16% share of the estimated 300,000 truck units world market, giving MAN a share of 61,000 trucks. The range offered have MAN engines and axles with ZF gearboxes. An MAN spokesman said, “We based our offering to the MoD on quality, through life partnership and low risk. If you want to be a partner in a 27 year contract you have to supply a products which is reliable and to price. We have analysed what the customer wants over the life time on time with the required quality and at the lowest risk and at the correct price. To achieve this we have based the bid as much as is possible around our commercial products to ensure commonality of spares and the ability of our world-wide dealership to service and support the vehicles.”

“This strength in world-wide commercial sales coupled to our military business means that MAN has a worldwide presence in the military market. In the UK alone we have 65,000 MAN and ERF vehicles with 14,000 Repair and Maintenance contracts based at our 100 dealerships, all owned by MAN. In addition we are meeting the rigorous ADR requirements through our involvement in the supply of tankers to the Petroleum industry where we have an 80% market share,” Ed Simpson Head of Government Sales at MAN ERF UK Ltd told BATTLESPACE.

The vehicles are models from the high-mobility off-road ranges HX and SX with two and three/four axles respectively. The chassis will be assembled at the Vienna plant of MAN Nutzfahrzeuge Österreich AG in Austria. The order ensures a continuous workload for the Vienna plant and thus helps to safeguard jobs. The high local content of the vehicles comes from the bodies, which will be completely produced in the UK. The local body manufacturers involved include Marshall SV Ltd, EKA, Fluid Transfer, Andover Trailers and Atlas Cranes.

The contract, awarded to MAN ERF, will see the delivery from 2007 of more than 5,000 modern, versatile and robust support vehicles, with an option to buy thousands more under consideration.

The vehicles, which will be capable of transporting large quantities of bulk equipment to front-line troops wherever they are operating, will create hundreds of jobs at assembly sites across the UK.
Lord Bach said: “This is good news for our Armed Forces and good news for the UK.

This year MAN Nutzfahrzeuge is celebrating 90 years in military vehicle production. Right from the start the armed forces with their specialised requirements relating to the engineering of the vehicles were among the company’s customers. Military vehicles from MAN are in operation in more than 65 countries. The high-mobility SX and HX ranges were developed specifically for off-road use in the military sector. They prove themselves in civilian duties too, however, for example in disaster relief or as expedition vehicles.

Countering any accusations that the company’ would not be around in twenty years’ the timescale of the MoD contract, on April 6th, the FT reported that MAN added a little to its defensive shield yesterday with a bullish profit forecast from its commercial vehicles unit.

The shares rose 2.9 per cent after the company said it expected to add €100m in 2005 to last year’s €342m operating profit at the truck and bus division. That makes a 26 per cent gain this year for the stock, which has tripled in value since MAN fended off a hosti

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