BusCon Expo 2013, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013.
CHICAGO — The 2013 BusCon Expo at the Navy Pier in Chicago this week brought limo operators from across the country to check out the newest makes and models of all sizes and types of minibuses and motorcoaches.
Capitalizing on the growing trend of executive van transport and diverse retail party buses, the latest models proved veteran manufacturers are upping their game in the private charter market, as well as new manufacturers looking to make their mark.
Below is a sample round-up of vehicles of interest to limousine operators [Look for more of these vehicles and vendors at LCT Show East, Oct. 27-29, Atlantic City, N.J., and the International LCT Show in Las Vegas Feb. 16-18, 2014]:
Brands such as Turtle Top, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, and Federal Coach had their latest editions that exemplified the classic executive bus transportation that has become popular for executive travel groups, with amenities such as plush leather seating, powerful new engines, and sleek and streamlined exteriors.
David Brown of Premier Transportation Group in Albany, N.Y., was impressed with the new 2014 Ford Transit on display at 2013 BusCon Expo.
One of the latest models to attract attention from limo operators was the economical and durable Ford Transit. The fully customizable vehicle comes in a wide range of body styles and configurations to fit a variety of clientele and events. The president of Premiere Transportation Group in Albany, N.Y., believes this new vehicle has much potential for limo operators.
“This could be the newest big thing in the industry,” said David Brown, noting that its high ceiling and spacious cabin could easily be retrofitted for party bus work. This can create an intimate environment for smaller retail groups while providing excellent corporate transportation work as well.
Federal Coach’s Premier Coach had one of the most opulent luxury executive interiors at the show.
For extra luxurious interiors and the largest limo coach on the show floor, Federal Coach brought its Premier Coach model, an ultra-decked out lounge on wheels that features a bar, U-shaped leather couch-seating, and forward facing executive seating. The passenger capacity ranges from 30-41, and the coach comes in 36-ft. and 40-ft. models. Perfect for tour, shuttle, or limousine work, this coach had a classy exterior on an International or Freightliner chassis, with opera lighting as a finishing touch.
Winnebago is also entering the corporate transportation market with its ultra-durable executive coach, one-piece roofing and reinforced sidewalls and windows to ensure the coach is built to last. Steve Peterson, manufacturing engineer of bus and specialty vehicles, was excited for Winnebago’s debut into the market Noting that this is its first time at BusCon, Peterson hopes that the craftsmanship and quality of Winnebago’s manufacturing process will attract the growing market of limo operators who need strong and durable equipment that can stand up to the worst weather and conditions and still provide a safe, quiet and secure ride.
Meridian Specialty Vehicles introduced its futuristic glass doorway that seals into place and a cutaway top that makes for easy entry and exit.
Meridian Specialty Vehicles introduced its futuristic glass doorway that seals into place and a cutaway top that makes for easy entry and exit. Plush leather seating and all around AC rounded out the vehicles that will make for a classy executive transportation vehicle.
Tech vendors such as Driverlocate, GPS tracking software; Janus Cam, security cameras; and Mix Telematics, vehicle tracking were popular destinations for small operators looking to upgrade their fleet efficiency. And textile supply and cabin retrofitting companies such as Mobility Works, Isringhausen USA, and Gerflor USA, gave experienced operators a look into how they can continue to modify their fleets.
Overall, BusCon this year attracted the same heavy attendance numbers as last year, according to initial figures. This was the last BusCon to be held in Chicago; BusCon 2014 moves to Indianapolis.
More coverage of BusCon to come on LCTMag.com and the November issue of LCT Magazine.
— Tim Crowley, LCT senior editor