We are in Södertälje, surrounded by the skerries, about 40 km south-west of Stockholm. This is almost the easternmost point of south-Sweden, quite near to the Baltic coast and across the sea from Estonia and the south of
Finland. Indeed, if one wanted to travel overland to Helsinki, it would mean a good 1800 km, right around the Gulf of Bothnia.
Today, Södertälje is a medium sized town with a population of about 90.000 and not far from a motorway interchange. Having a look at the map, you'll notice that there is a canal, inaugurated in 1819, which serves as a
connection from the coast to the large lakes further inland.
The founding of the company had something to with the railway network, which was later set up in Sweden, although nearer to Great Britain than to Germany. This may have been because of the difficult topography. From
1890 onwards, there was a railway connection from Södertälje to Stockholm.
We're talking about the 'Vagnfabriks-Aktiebolaget i Södertelge', the Carriage Factory AG in Södertelge, as the town was then called. It was the Vabis-section of Scania, founded in
1890/91. Up to there union in 1910/11, they very successfully produced carriages for the railways and also horse-drawn carriages.
In 1900, far away in Malmö, the company 'Svenska Aktiebolat Humber & Co' was founded, as the name indicates, it was a branch of the British Humber company. At the company's 120th anniversary, Scania took on the age of
the older Vabis-section. The two companies were very different. Scania built together motor cars from purchased components, whereas Vabis attempted to do their own developing.
In 1897, it was the 38 year old, young engineer, Gustaf Erikson, who started with the production of their own vehicle. He would later be known as 'the father of the Swedish motor car', this however, does not mean that his first
projects were particularly successful. His idea, which is more promising for Scania today, was to do as much as possible themselves.
During the period, where Rudolph Diesel's engine, with its particularly high compression, was undergoing it's first trail-runs, Erikson was trying to run a type of Stirling engine using a similar fuel, namely petroleum. To cut a
long story short, the project only really took off, in the third generation, after he changed over to the petrol engine.
The engine was suitable for a Draisine (rail-trolley) and a few other vehicles. Until about 1908, Vabis still profitted from the carriage-business. Indeed then, also because of the many rival-concerns, a market saturation set in.
At this point, the production of motor vehicles should actually have been the profit maker.
This section of the manufacture was growing too slowly, although in the meantime, they were almost exclusively busy with the building of utility vehicles. One can learn from the history of other companies, that failure is a
typical reason for a fusion. The purchase of an additional, smaller partner, suited Scania down to the ground.
There, they had been building their own engines since 1905 and were so successful with the sales of utility vehicles, that they used the company in Södertälje to expand the production, indeed, more for engines, motor cars
and delivery vehicles. The truck production remained in Malmö. There were connections to the 'Swedish Ball-Bearing Factory' (SKF), who were also involved in the foundation of Volvo.
In a short while, they became famous in Malmö, for the building of the first 'Nordmark' bus in 1911, which was urgently needed by the post office in the partially scarcely populated country. In 1912, fire engines for the fire
brigade were added. In 1913, like almost every automobile company, Scania-Vabis was also stricken by a raging fire.
|V8, all-wheel-drive, all-wheel-steering|
Because of Sweden's neutrality, the war-years passed by a little differently than in central-Europe. Apart from delivering to the military, there was still the civilian production with bigger and bigger engines, e.g., a V8. Indeed,
after the first world war, the Scania Company wasn't doing any better than the other manufacturers.
The war of course, ruined the exports. After the protecting customs-limitations were finally lifted, things got even worse. In 1921 they were close to going bankrupt. They were in the red for six of the ten years between 1920
and 1929. In 1927 the factory in Malmö was even closed down. Of all the years, in 1930, which was considered to be a disaster year, they could, once again, pay out a dividend.
During the crisis, marketable products were developed. Among them was the front-steered 'Bulldog bus' and a six-cylinder in-line engine. After meticulously searching for a more efficient fuel user, a cooperation came about
with Magirus-Deutz, who at the time, had the most modern truck-Diesel engine. That was only in 1936. In between, there were a further two lean years.
All together however, this decade was more successful the last. Astonishingly, in the end, Scania produced three times as many buses as trucks. Up to now, we haven't mentioned the production of marine-engines and of
course, during the second world war, the intensified equipping of the army followed.
The neutral country came through the otherwise raging war quite differently. Without destruction and with a great deal of rationalisation beforehand, they reckoned that they had a good starting chance. Indeed, something
impossible in central Europe, in 1945 Sweden suffered under a crippling strike.
So, because they also couldn't avoid the post-war misery, they became inventive. From 1945 onwards they were a sales agency for the famous Willys-Jeep and from 1948, also for the, at he time, not so famous VW-Beetle.
They also worked together with Mack in the USA and for the first time, in 1949, they had a Diesel direct-injection.
So well prepared, one could, in the 1950s, speak of a sort of 'economic wonder'. The turnover was quadrupled in accordance with the production of truck and VW sales. Agencies were established in a number of countries,
e.g., also in South-America and slowly, something like a typical Scania-identity was born.
It was boom-time for trucks and this was followed by the greatly increasing sales of buses around the mid 1960s. Not only now, did they have the strongest truck-engines of the time, but after the turbo-charger, introduced in
1960, in 1969 they had an engine producing 224 kW (305 hp), also a V8.
To avoid customs restrictions, production plants were also created abroad, e.g., in the Netherlands and in Brazil, one was speaking of expansions of one factory per annum. Up to the turn of the millennium, there was a short
intermezzo with the manufacturer, Saab, which in the end, was passed over to General Motors.
The old connections to VW may have been the deciding factor, why Scania, critics say for far too high a price, was taken over by VW and would be united with MAN, also owned by VW. Already during the negotiations, did the
Scandinavians show themselves as being. relatively reluctant.
All this, although or perhaps even because of this, Håkan Samuelsson, a board director at Scania, was from 2005 to 2009, the big-boss at MAN. Even more bizarre, was that the current consolidation created a new number
one in Europe, thus toppling the Daimler utility vehicle section off the throne. You can guess, from which concern Andreas Renschler came, the one who was responsible for the integration.
Even though one almost always has to wait a whole model-generation for results from such a fusion, the difficulties in this case, were obvious. Scania was still, where possible, a self-producer, whereby MAN, was more the
component-buyer. If only, in the future, there were at least spectacular changes on the cards, which would force the two to cooperate.
Indeed, the introduction of the Euro-6 emission-regulations was so drastic, that similar radical cuts cannot be expected that quickly. The emission-systems are already almost as large as the engines themselves and cost
€10.000 more. Whatever the case may be, the investments have been made. At the most, they could develop a new drivers-cab together, if, that is, two finished articles didn't already exist.
A fact is, when development departments are combined, one of the teams is always frustrated and that, can cancel out any advantage that the fusion brings. And, don't you dare to deprive the trucker of his/her brand-name
image, this would surely be the collapse of the fusion. This is why both parties always ensure, that both brand-names will be preserved. 03/14