ABOUT PHOTO: Exterior of the new F550 Flex Limo. Interior photos are not available yet for the Flex Limo made by Turtle Top.
MONEY-SAVER: Turtle Top is finishing up an F550 limo bus that has a movable seating pattern that can alternately accommodate leisure and corporate clients — or both.
NEW PARIS, Indiana — A limo/mini-bus prototype that can easily be adapted for a bachelor party or a corporate road show will be unveiled Feb. 14 on the trade show floor at the International LCT Show in Las Vegas.
The Ford F550 bus, built by TURTLE TOP, a maker of mid-size buses and specialty vehicles, would enable operators to save on vehicle costs by readily adapting the seating to specific types of clients.
Seats can be arranged perimeter-style, for wine tour, wedding, and bachelor parties; forward facing for corporate road shows or business clients; and half-and-half; with front seats forward facing and rear seats in perimeter style. The F550 appearing on the show floor will be 34.5 feet long and carry a maximum of 24 passengers.
Timm Bledsoe, the sales and marketing director of TURTLE TOP, told LCT Magazine that workers are still manufacturing the interior for the prototype vehicle, to be called the “Flex Limo.” The “quick release” seats will be anchored by bolts that can be removed to allow them to be moved to new positions. The floor of the bus also will feature tracks for aisle and forward facing configurations. Other amenities built into the prototype include: an interior beverage bar, a luggage compartment, and a vista view front cap, which is a windowed raised ceiling that allows for more light and headroom.
Turtle Top eventually plans to extend the flex seating plan to most of its models, including Freightliners and the Odyssey model series, such as Ford and GM brand buses/vans, Bledsoe said. The seating design can be adapted to vehicles ranging from a minimum capacity of 15 passengers to ones carrying a maximum of 50 passengers.
“The Turtle Top family of buses features the most sophisticated styling and offers the most luxurious travel amenities available in the mid-size coach market segment,” Bledsoe said in a statement. “Travel adventures whether short or long will provide up to 50 passengers with a first-class travel experience.”
The flex seating idea originated with Turtle Top vice president Phil Tom who spearheaded the concept and program to build the prototype, Bledsoe said. “In the past, people have asked to be flexible, but we didn’t have the design and concept down yet on how to do it.”
Turtle Top is aiming for the market segment of operators who want to save on vehicle costs and maximize their market reach by operating buses with weekday and weekend uses, instead of buying separate vehicles for each market segment.
— Martin Romjue, LCT editor