Setra, from Beer Hauler to People Mover
The story of public transportation begun only a few years after the first automobile was successfully driven, and at a time when the new industry called “car manufacturing” was beginning to catch speed. For Daimler, the company which now takes credit for the invention of the automobile, mass transportation begun in 1907. That beginning is now called Setra and Setra, for all intents and purposes, identifies itself with Karl Kassbohrer.
Kassbohrer was the man who in 1893 set up Wagenfabrik Kassbohrer in Ulm, a company which slowly specialized itself in creating vehicles unlike most of the other self-propelled machines on the roads of that time.
In the end of the 19th century and in the early years of the 20th, cars were beginning to show the obvious advantages they had over horse drawn carriages. Much faster, capable of carrying more and for longer distances, cars were seen as the perfect way to expand businesses by reducing the time of delivery and increasing the load that was transported.
"I wish most humbly and respectfully to inform the general public, all ladies and gentlemen of quality and carriage owners that I have recently taken up business as a carriage builder at my address at C 121 Lauterberg and wish to commend myself to you for the manufacture of chaises and carriages of all descriptions and for the repair of said vehicles." Kassbohrer advertised his business in the local newspaper "Ulmer Tagblatt" on 5 September 1893.
Kassbohrer, who saw a great opportunity in creating a vehicle capable of carrying great loads, was well aware of the fact that he couldn't use a car, as they were at the time, for this purpose. At first, his business was only limited to repair work, but slowly grew and, in the beginning of the 20th century, he begins manufacturing what we call today commercial vehicles.
His first project was a motorized dual-purpose vehicle for a local brewery, built on a Saurer chassis. The brewery was using the machine to transport beer barrels during the week, while on Sundays it took people on trips in and around the city of Ulm.
Kassbohrer patented his design - a bus that featured a floor divided into two lengthwise sections, with upholstered seats that could be folded to allow the transport of goods – in 1910, making the model the backbone product of his company.
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