One-on-one with Hubert Brandl. Niesmann+Bischoff Managing Director talks about the pioneering role his company plays in safety.
Polch/Düsseldorf, 24th August 2018 – The first liner with airbags on board: the professional world reacted with great astonishment last summer after Niesmann+Bischoff presented the Flair. For some, it was in acknowledgement of how much work is involved in creating that kind of safety concept. Then there were others who had simply assumed that an elite class vehicle automatically had airbags on board. Either way: driver and passenger airbags are now part of the series fittings – at no extra charge.
Mr Brandl, Niesmann+Bischoff published a representative survey conducted with the market research institute YouGov early this August – what was your motivation?
Three years ago, we found ourselves at a point where we wanted to make a groundbreaking difference in terms of safety. We were prepared to invest the great deal of effort that would be necessary to turn that kind of concept into reality and to ultimately put the first elite class vehicle with airbags on the market – it was a strategic decision that makes us stand apart from the competition. Safety is a very important factor for our customers. We wanted to find out what is currently considered of most importance on board by conducting a representative survey in Germany. Is top priority given to technical criteria, such as the engine or on-board electrical system, when purchasing a vehicle? Or is comfort more important, perhaps the bed size or bathroom features? Is it a matter of storage space – what I can fit in the rear garage? To be honest, we were not surprised to learn that the safety factor was at the top of the list for Germany’s motorhome drivers and those who are fascinated by this type of travelling. The results additionally and sustainably confirmed that we have indeed chosen the right approach by adding airbags, ESP and seatbelt pretensioners.
For fifty percent of those surveyed, safety was of utmost importance, and comfort was ranked most important by one third. Were you surprised by the results?
Absolutely not. People have a sense of what is important when on the road during their holiday. Comfort, technology, design and storage space are undoubtedly all important. Nevertheless, the safety of a vehicle is still first and foremost. That fact might encourage our market competitors to rethink their approach and invest in similar fitting concepts to raise passive vehicle safety to a higher level. Another reason to do so is that an astonishing 71% of people surveyed in Germany – and this is another key finding in the study – assume that airbags are already included in the standard features of a motorhome. And as we know, that is a misconception. We set a significant milestone last summer with the Flair and its safety features. That genuinely differentiates us from the competition.
That is a good segue. How important is it to make a difference in such an animated and complex market?
Being alive means dealing with change and transformation; being at a standstill is of no help to anyone. That is also how we think as a company when making strategic decisions like that regarding the Flair’s safety concept and also when resolutely turning those decisions into reality. Niesmann+Bischoff will always be the motorhome manufacturer to have developed the first luxury liner with airbags. There are countless other examples of how we are leading the way competitively – whether in terms of customised interior design, the concept of the Smove as a new species of vehicle or specially modifying a Flair which is being used successfully at the Fischer Driving Academy in Gera. Regardless of whether it’s a matter of technical innovation, design or colour: we’re always good for special features. That is a claim we would like to continue to live up to in the future.