Vehicle Pick of the Week: This used Mercedes-Benz van should be a no-brainer for operators in need of a sturdy shuttle.
CHICAGO — The trend toward group travel keeps rising in retail and corporate sectors as cost-conscious passengers prefer to book larger vehicles with higher capacity. Operators throughout the industry have taken note and are venturing into the bus business with minicoaches and full-size motorcoaches. The number one place in the industry to see the latest and greatest group-moving vehicles is the annual BusCon Expo, which was held Sept. 10-12 at Chicago’s famous Navy Pier. It’s here that operators can attend seminars educating them about the details of the bus business and view innovative, creative and efficient vehicles that will meet their needs.
Vehicle Production Group
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Vehicle Production Group unveiled at BusCon 2012 its newest ADA-compliant vehicle, the 2013 MV-1 LX. In attendance for the unveiling were cheerleaders from the Chicago Bulls basketball team, several legendary members of the Chicago Bears football team, and Marc Buoniconti, owner of the first MV-1 unit.Buoniconti is president of the Buoniconti Fund and son of Hall of Fame linebacker Nick Buoniconti, who was part of the undefeated, Super Bowl-winning 1972 Miami Dolphins.
The MV-1, which stands for “mobility vehicle,” is assembled near South Bend, Ind., at AM General’s Mishawaka plant, the former production facility for the Hummer H2. The MV-1 was designed and built specifically for disabled passengers and meets or exceeds guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act for wheelchair accessibility.
Key features in the MV-1 LX include: Power ramp with lighted, anti-skid surface and raised side barriers; power door with key fob; wheelchair securement and restraint system; 10 universal floor tracks for wheelchair location flexibility; multiple grab handles; custom rosewood accents; leatherette upholstery with quilted diamond pattern; enhanced radio package that includes AM/FM radio, CD/MP3 player, clock, rear backup camera, 7 in. touchscreen and controls, and Bluetooth capability; driver’s floor mat; 17-inch allow wheels with chrome center cap; medium window tint; and a leather steering wheel wrapper.
The MV-1 comes with a standard Ford V-8 gas engine with a 24-gallon tank capacity or an optional Ford V-8 CNG engine.
Model: 2013 MV-1 LX | Passenger capacity: 5 | Luggage space: 36.4 cu. ft. (gas engine); 29.1 cu. ft. (CNG) | Length: 205 in. | Width: 79.4 in. | Height: 75 in. | Turning radius: 42.8 ft. | Access door useable width: 36 in. | Access door useable height: 56 in. | Interior height at rear wheelchair position: 59.5 in. | Interior height at forward wheelchair position: 58.3 in. | Ramp extension-short: 52.5 in. | Ramp extension-long: 87 in. | Useable ramp width: 30 in. | Warranty: 3 years/36,000 mile (bumper-to-bumper); 5 years/75,000 mile (powertrain and ramp); 5 years/100,000 mile (corrosion protection).
CH Bus Sales/ TEMSA Global
TEMSA Global and its U.S. sales arm, Las Vegas-based CH Bus Sales, displayed their 30-passenger TS 30 motorcoach. The TS 30 is the smallest coach to feature an integral stainless steel monocoque chassis, which gives it greater structural integrity and durability than a body-on-chassis style bus. It also features an independent front suspension.
Standard amenities include: decorative curtains; air conditioning with roof heating; body leveling floor; manually operated roller-type sun visor; partitions; first aid kit; room mirror; manually operated escape hatch; cruise control; automatic fuses; overhead parcel racks; rear view mirrors; reflectors; splash aprons; tool set; LED interior & exterior lights; 12v plug for mobile phone use; battery jumper; 3-point seatbelts for driver and passengers.
Model: TS 30 | Passenger capacity: 30 (+1 driver) w/o restroom; 32 (+1 driver) with restroom | Luggage space: 141 cu. ft. | Length: 30.80 ft. | Width: 94.64 in. | Height (incl. a/c): 10.89 ft. | Turning radius: 27.8 ft. | Engine: Cummins ISB 6.7 250; 6 cylinder | Transmission: Allison B300 | Horsepower: 250 @ 2,300 rpm | Torque: 660 lb-ft @1,600 rpm | Fuel tank capacity: 76 gal | Diesel exhaust fluid tank capacity: 10 US gal
Motor Coach Industries
While MCI did not exhibit a vehicle on the show floor this year, it had a booth where team members answered questions about their newest motorcoach, the 2013 J4500. The J4500 has been the industry’s best-selling coach, and it has been revamped for the 2013 model year by BMW Group DesignworksUSA, which led the styling of the original J4500.
The 2013 J4500 coach features a semi-monocoque stainless steel body.
Key improvements / amenities include: high-visibility LED headlights; amber LED turn and daytime running lamps; LED tail and brake lights; extra-durable front and rear bumpers; more branding space on rear engine door; fully sealed electrical system with protected connectors and easy-access doors; module diagnostics accessed from one location on new touchscreen LCD; Amerex fire-suppression system; SmartWave tire-pressure monitor; backlit switches and illuminated gauges; ergonomic cockpit; automated pre-trip walk-around test check; 3-point seatbelt for driver and passengers; improved passenger visibility from rearmost seat; spiral stepwell; continuous handrails; adjustable MCI design headrests; chemical lavatory with wash basin; theater-style tiered seating in first three rows; iPod and MP3 connection in head unit; improved Wi-Fi system; 110v outlets; six 15 in. LCD widescreen HD monitors with USB input; dual wireless microphones.
Model: 2013 J4500 | Passenger capacity: 56 | Luggage space: 595 cu. ft. | Length: 45.58 ft. | Width: 102 in. | Height: 78.25 in. | Gross vehicle weight: 54,000 lbs. | Turning radius: 47 ft. | Engine: Cummins ISX 12 or Detroit Diesel DD13 | Transmission: Allison B500 6-speed automatic | Horsepower: 425 (Cummins) or 410 (Detroit Diesel) | Fuel tank capacity: 183 gal | Diesel exhaust fluid tank capacity: 15 gal
Starcraft Bus, a Forest River company specializing in medium to large shuttle buses, featured a variety of vehicles to serve different needs.
Model: Starcraft Xpress (Ford E350) | Passenger capacity: 8 | Wheelbase: 138 in. | Gross vehicle weight: 11,500 lbs. | Engine: Ford 5.4L gasoline | Key features: Silver metallic paint with blackout windows; Freedman mid-high seats; Braun Century wheelchair lift and Q’Straint deluxe retractor wheelchair securement system; 25,000 BTU A/C system; Gerfloor flooring.
Model: Starcraft Starquest (Ford E350) | Passenger capacity:13 | Width: 88 in. | Exterior height: 110 in. | Interior height: 74 in. | Wheelbase: 158 in. | Gross vehicle weight: 12,500 lbs. | Engine: Ford 5.4L gasoline | Key features: Silver metallic paint with blackout windows; Freedman Berkshire high-back seats with Hathaway fabric and seatbelts; fire extinguisher; back-up alarm; 45,000 BTU A/C system; Gerfloor flooring.
Model: Starcraft Allstar (Ford E450) | Passenger capacity: 25 | Interior width: 93 in. | Interior height: 80 in. | Wheelbase: 190 in. | Gross vehicle weight: 14,500 lbs. | Engine: Ford 6.8L gasoline | Key features: Silver metallic paint with blackout windows; Freedman Berkshire high-back seats; 68,000 BTU A/C system; AM/FM, CD/DVD radio; six 7 in. LCD monitors; Altro flooring; entry door stepwell lights.
Model: Starcraft Allstar XL | Chassis: International UC | Passenger capacity: 28 | Width: 96 in. | Interior height: 79 in. | Wheelbase: 234 in. | Gross vehicle weight: 19,500 lbs. | Engine: MaxxForce 7 | Key features: Silver metallic paint with blackout windows; Freedman Berkshire high-back seats with Hathaway fabric; bonded windows; 75,000 BTU A/C system; Altro flooring; breakaway rearview mirrors with convex; flat floor; non-retractable seat belts; entry door stepwell lights; printed circuit board with automotive type fuses and LED troubleshooting lights.
Model: Starcraft MVP (Ford E450) | Passenger capacity: 28 | Interior width: 92.5 in. | Interior height: 78.5 in. | Wheelbase: 212 in. | Gross vehicle weight: 14,500 lbs. | Engine: Ford 6.8L gasoline | Key features: Silver metallic paint with blackout windows; Freedman Berkshire high-back seats with Hathaway fabric; 68,000 BTU A/C system; Altro flooring; overhead luggage racks; entry door stepwell lights; printed circuit board with automotive type fuses and LED troubleshooting lights; breakaway rearview mirrors with built-in convex.
Model: Starcraft XLT | Chassis: International TC | Passenger capacity: 37 | Exterior width: 102 in. | Interior width: 98 in. | Interior height: 80 in. | Wheelbase: 291 in. | Gross vehicle weight: 30,000 lbs. | Engine: MaxxForce DT | Key features: Silver metallic paint with blackout windows; Freedman 19 in. high-back seats with Hathaway Fabric; 140,000 BTU rear A/C system; AM/FM, CD/DVD radio; one 15 in. flip down LCD monitor and four 10.2 in. LCD monitors; Altro flooring; non-retractable seat belts; entry door stepwell lights; 19 in.-wide seats; 18 in. aisle.
On display were a 35-passenger 2012 Odyssey XLT motorcoach and 12-passenger 2012 Van Terra XLT executive van. The vehicles featured a new Jensen Bluetooth capable stereo console that allows passengers to wirelessly connect their smartphones and iPods to the system and control the music.
Model: 2012 Van Terra XLT | BusCon 2012 price: $79,500 | Passenger capacity: 12 | Engine: Ford gasoline 5.4L V-8 | Key features: Mor-Ryde suspension; black vinyl sidewalls and ceiling; Kubota key switch; single rear door; stationary luggage wall angle with storage; elite bonded window package; Swan luggage racks with Omega lighting; three-speed heater; 60K Trans Air A/C; 750 watt Peak 110v package; streaming radio; engine console; executive wood interior; Freedman GO seats with armrests; headrests; grab handles; mesh pockets and USR belts; locking black fuel cap; lighted switch panel.
Model: 2012 Odyssey XLT | BusCon 2012 price: $224,500 | Passenger capacity: 35 | Length: 45 ft. | Width: 102 in. | Height: 129 in. | Gross vehicle weight: 33,000 lbs. | Engine: 8.3L Cummins Diesel | Key features: Plug entrance door; Kubota key switch; double rear door with rear luggage; elite bonded window package; Summit Nova seats with arm rests; footrests; map pockets; Swan luggage racks with Omega lighting; two-speed heater; 160K ACC A/C; 1500 watt Peak 110v package; scenic video display; SGL translucent lighted destination sign; painted skirts; rear camera system; aluminum wheels; stainless steel hub covers; one-piece pre-molded fiberglass roof; 3-point seatbelts.
The General Motors team showcased a Supreme Corp. Senator SII shuttle built on a Chevrolet Express chassis.
Model: Chevy Senator SII | Manufacturer: Supreme Corporation | Passenger capacity: up to 21 (10, 12, and 16 passenger configurations with two wheelchair spots) | Exterior width: 100 in. | Interior width: 93.5 in. | Height: 116 in. | Gross vehicle weight: 12,300 lbs. Chevrolet cutaway | Engine: Vortec 6000 6.0L gasoline or Duramax 6600 6.6 L diesel | Fuel tank capacity: 35 gal | Key features: six passenger courtesy lights; comfort-ride suspension, H.D. springs and shocks; 145 AMP alternator; double wheelchair doors.
Ford Motor Company
Ford featured its 2012 E-Series vans, 2012 F-450 chassis cab and 2012 F-650 chassis cab. The E-Series and F-450 remain largely the same as last year’s models, but the 2012 F-650 chassis cab will be available with a 6.8L V-10 gasoline engine and a CNP/LPG gaseous engine Prep Package that will allow it to run on compressed natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas.
DDS eFleet Services
Fleet management software company, eFleet, displayed at its booth its software, Vector 800, and Vector 9000 mobile data terminals. eFleet is a hosted system featuring GPS fleet tracking, computer-aided wireless dispatch order entry, two-way text messaging and point-of-sale payment processing. The Vector 800 and 9000 mobile data terminals are touchscreen devices that offer multiple USB ports and a credit card swipe function. eFleet also offers Wi-Fi hotspots that allow 50+ passengers to connect to high-speed Internet access.
ROUSH CleanTech /Propane Education & Research Council
ROUSH displayed a converted 2013 Ford E450 paratransit shuttle powered by propane autogas.
Model: 2013 Ford E450 ROUSH CleanTech conversion cutaway | Length: 261.1 in. | Width: 79.4 in. | Gross Vehicle Weight: 14,500 lbs. | Engine: 6.8L V-10 | Fuel type: Liquid propane autogas | Fuel tank capacity: 41 gallons | Key features: Altoona tested; reduced GHG emissions by 24%, nitrogen oxide emissions by 20%, carbon monoxide emissions by 60% compared to gas engines; reduce fuel expenses by up to 40%; compliant with FMVSS, NHTSA, EPA, CARB, and Texas RRC.
IC Bus displayed its AC Series shuttle bus, which is the first-ever small shuttle to be fully integrated.
Model: AC Series | Passenger capacity: 30 | Width: 96 in. | Gross vehicle weight: 16,500-19,500 lbs. | Engine: MaxxForce 7 diesel | Transmission: Allison 1000 series | Key features: Hydraulic split break system with ABS; soft-ride parabolic suspension; 40-gallon BTR tank; multiplex body wiring; stepwell lights; hand grabs; stainless stepwell; black ribbed rubber aisle; all-steel inner-cage structure; Freedman seating; backup alarm; coolant level indicator and alarm; five-gauge driver cluster with visual and audible warning system; parking brake alarm.
Federal Coach, a Forest River company specializing in luxury shuttles and coaches, displayed a trio of livery-ready vehicles that offer different seating capacities and interior styles.
Model: Federal Coach Premier | Chassis: Freightliner | Passenger capacity: 44 (no luggage) | Length: 39.5 ft. | Width: 102 in. | Ceiling height: 80.75 in. | Exterior height: 121.5 in. | Gross vehicle weight: 25,900 lbs. | Engine: Cummins ISB 6.7L | Transmission: Allison | Horsepower: 300 | Key features: Silver metallic paint with blackout windows; Freedman corporate collection CEO 19 in. high back seats with seatbelts; 140,000 BTU rear A/C system; AM/FM, CD/DVD radio; one 32 in. LCD monitor and six 10 in. LCD monitors; bonded windows; Altro Timber safe flooring.
Model: Federal Coach Spirit Limo (Ford E450) | Passenger capacity:19 | Wheelbase: 208 in. | Gross vehicle weight: 14,500 lbs. | Engine: Ford 6.8L gasoline | Key features: Silver metallic paint with blackout windows; Summit Salon limo seating; 75,000 BTU A/C system; Altro Timber safe flooring; bonded windows; interior limo light system; bar; front and rear LCD monitors.
Model: Federal Coach Spirit executive shuttle (Ford E450) | Passenger capacity: 22 | Wheelbase: 208 in. | Gross vehicle weight: 14,500 lbs. | Engine: Ford 6.8L gasoline | Key features: Silver metallic paint with blackout windows; Freedman corporate collection CEO high back seats with seatbelts; 75,000 BTU A/C system; Altro Timber safe flooring; bonded windows; AM/FM, CD/DVD radio; one 26 in. LCD monitor and six 7 in. LCD monitors.
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