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 |  Sep 17 2010, 9:02 AM

It’s a virtually unknown entity on this side of the Atlantic but in Europe MAN (Machinenfabrik Augsburg-Nurnberg) is a heavyweight contender in the commercial vehicle segment.

At the top end, where 44 tonne trucks rule the roost, MAN enjoys a more than 60 percent market share, but like other commercial vehicle makers, in an effort to improve fuel economy, it’s turning its attention to aerodynamics. Given that length restrictions are a significant factor in commercial vehicle design in Europe, conventional big rigs (those with hoods) are almost non-existent, with cab-over-engine (COE) trucks being the norm (a stark contrast to North America today, where drivers clearly prefer the conventional).

Cabover trucks, due to their flat fronted design, present significant problems in aerodynamic efficiency, but MAN is attempting to address them with the Concept S.

Although details are sketchy, the design features a cab with a narrower cross section than most current European large trucks, with flat top fenders, designed to improve airflow around the sides of the vehicle. It is in some respects a modern interpretation of some 1940s and 50s American Cabovers, including the heavy-duty Ford COEs and H-series Macks.

MAN says that the aerodynamics of the Concept S are said to reduce fuel consumption by around 25 percent, over a standard 44 tonne tractor on the market today. Given that truckers pay significantly more for diesel in Europe than they do over here, that in itself is worth noting. The Concept S will be on display at the IAA Commercial Vehicle show in Hannover, Germany which takes place this month.