Vehicles

Irizar Loads Up Black Bullet For U.S. Motorcoach Market

Martin Romjue
Posted on September 14, 2016

The Spanish-built Irizar i6 brings an aerodynamic, sleek European design to the U.S. motorcoach market and the limousine industry, building upon its market success throughout Europe and in Mexico.
The Spanish-built Irizar i6 brings an aerodynamic, sleek European design to the U.S. motorcoach market and the limousine industry, building upon its market success throughout Europe and in Mexico.
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — What was once a narrow vehicle slice in the limousine market keeps grabbing more of the overall fleet pie. That wedge just notched a little wider, as Iriziar, a Spanish motorcoach manufacturer, delivered its first round of buses to the U.S. market in July and August.

The sales follow Irizar’s official debut of its 56-passenger, 45-foot i6 motorcoach to the industry Feb. 29 at the International LCT Show in Las Vegas. The OEM joined all other major motorcoach manufacturers in displaying a total of 11 motorcoaches on the trade show floor, the highest number of big buses ever at an ILCT Show.
Irizar’s entry shows how much the chauffeured transportation sector has embraced high-end group service since the first motorcoaches emerged in the industry in 2008 and 2009.

“I know Irizar thinks a lot of the U.S.,” says Marty Barrett, executive vice president of INA Bus Sales, the exclusive U.S. distributor for Irizar. “One of the business factors is they had developed a coach performing extremely well in Europe, which is the one we are distributing in the U.S.”

The North American market’s focus on advanced technology and improved safety equipment also proved a right fit for Irizar, says Chad Dixon, chief operator officer of INA Bus Sales. “Entering the U.S./Canadian market with a commitment to be a long term player was not only a move to diversify the manufacturing platform for Irizar, but also an excellent opportunity to showcase the company’s cutting edge leading safety advancements, quality of craftsmanship and exquisite design.”

Trusted Contact
To explore the U.S. market, Irizar executives in Spain reached out to a known bus dealer, Mike Haggerty, who founded CH Bus Sales in 2011.

The former Los Angeles and Las Vegas limousine and motorcoach operator, who once owned and ran Ryan’s Express, said Irizar was impressed with his bus sales and operations track record in the industry.

“They reached out to me as chairman of the board to gauge my interest in selling the Irizar product,” Haggerty says, who formed INA Bus Sales as a standalone distribution company in late 2015. “As an entrepreneur, I want to take something from nothing and watch it grow.”

Axier Etxezarreta, director of Irizar USA, said the company wanted to build on its commercial presence in more than 90 developed countries. “Obviously, this market is one of the most important ones, not just due to the volume but mainly due to the importance the U.S. as the first economy in the world. This will definitively reinforce our position in other markets.”

Irizar and INA are positioning the i6, standard and super-cargo versions, as a higher-end coach across the charter/tour and chauffeured transportation sectors. “The curb appeal is its sleek look, and the large luggage capacity on the super cargo would intrigue a lot of operators,” including ones with smaller fleets, Barrett says.

Sexy Smooth
As the three executives all mention, one of Irizar’s signature selling points is its futuristic, streamlined design and the overall “black limo bus” look of the i6. It stands out among competitors who have been in the U.S. market much longer.

“This is a sexy bus,” Haggerty says. “The Irizar is so captivating. We’re already finding when we get an Irizar into a fleet, it is not unusual for it to become the most requested motorcoach. The customer asks the operator to send the bus that ‘looks like a spaceship.’”

Barrett adds, “The differentiating factor of the Irizar is the physical beauty and unique design of the coach. With 125 years of experience behind Irizar, the durability of the coaches is unquestioned. The improved fuel efficiency and its fit and finish are as good or better than most other motorcoaches in the marketplace.”
In promoting Irizar, Haggerty draws upon his experience and insights from running a Los Angeles limousine company in the 1980s and Ryan’s Express, a charter, tour and motorcoach service in the Western U.S., in the 1990s and 2000s.

“My experience has been that in the limousine sector, service and presentation of vehicles is paramount,” he says. “As a limousine operator, I think the perception of the Irizar is one of luxury as opposed to the standard traditional motorcoach.”

The Irizar i6 offers multiple mixes of options to create a premium, luxury group transportation experience.
The Irizar i6 offers multiple mixes of options to create a premium, luxury group transportation experience.
Custom Content
Within that sleek look, Irizar can customize luxury interiors any number of ways. Options span REI or Bosch entertainment systems, WiFi, 110V individual plug-ins, tinted windows, cup holders, and any type of flooring, to name several.

“Any operator should compare standard features of the bus point by point when making a decision,” Haggerty says. “All of the manufacturers offer some of the amenities but not others. We wanted to make sure Irizar offered all of them, including destination signs, 110-volt electronics, USB ports, side shades, footrests, and so many safety features such as driver fatigue warning and 3-point seatbelts.”

Irizar enjoys the advantage of owning an air conditioning company in Sevilla, Spain, enabling them to install powerful in-house built HVAC systems, ideal for operators in the hotter Western and Southwest climates. It also owns Datik, a company that makes innovative driver fatigue warning systems installed on Irizar buses.

“The Irizar i6 is constructed of stainless steel with an integral monocoque design and is developed and engineered based on the core values of the Irizar brand,” Dixon says. Those include “safety, reliability, cost of ownership, aftersales service, design, customization and comfort.” An i6 motorcoach can last 20 years or longer if properly maintained and driven, he adds.

Irizar i6 buses are being distributed by INA Bus Sales, led by the executive team (L to R) of Founder and Chairman Mike Haggerty, COO Chad Dixon, and EVP Marty Barrett.
Irizar i6 buses are being distributed by INA Bus Sales, led by the executive team (L to R) of Founder and Chairman Mike Haggerty, COO Chad Dixon, and EVP Marty Barrett.
National Network
INA Bus Sales distributes the i6 through its facility in Dallas, which is more convenient for operators west of the Mississippi who often must travel to Canada or Orlando to get other motorcoach models, Haggerty says.
Irizar i6 buses can be maintained and fitted with aftermarket parts at several maintenance facilities around the nation. INA has a maintenance agreement with CH Bus Sales.

“INA and CH, although they have me as majority owner of both entities, offer synergies between the two companies that can benefit operators throughout the U.S.,” he adds. “INA can take advantage of CH properties in Orlando, Dallas, New Jersey, San Francisco and Las Vegas.” A Los Angeles area location is planned soon.

Pricing & Sales
While the full retail price on the two i6 models are $525,000 and $570,000, Haggerty stresses limousine operations are eligible for discounts. Standard depreciation on a new motorcoach runs about 15% the first year, and then another 10% every year after that, depending on mileage.

“We will mostly sell the i6 super cargo to the limo industry, although the bus will be priced similar to every other highline bus being offered,” Haggerty says.

INA Bus Sales aims to sell about 50 i6s in the U.S. from through July 2017, and then 75 annually after that, eventually trying to get 10-15% of the OEM motorcoach market within four years. INA wants to be sure its growth is measured enough to provide consistent and reliable maintenance service and parts. In Mexico, where Irizar sells its buses through a separate distributor, the OEM has captured 60% of the motorcoach market. It ranks No. 1 in Spain with 45% to 50% of the market, and has 20% to 25% of the market in the United Kingdom.

Irizar sold 20 vehicles in its first 60 days during July and August, delivering most to tour operators. The company has strong relationships with some of the larger line run operators worldwide, and a long history with Hispanic operators of commuter services, Haggerty says.

The common color choice among U.S. clients so far is white, with a few customers requesting silver and blue colored models. Of course, black-on-black is available for limo industry luxury tastes.

FASTFACTS: Irizar

  • Headquarters: Ormaiztegi, Spain
  • Founded: 1889
  • Facilities: Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and Morocco
  • Annual production: About 3,000 buses
  • Global workforce: 2,600 employees
  • Related Irizar Group companies: Hispacold, maker of bus A/C systems; Masats, maker of automated coach doors and ramps; Datik, maker of innovative driver fatigue warning systems.*
  • U.S. distributor: INA (Irizar North America) Bus Sales, Las Vegas, Nev.**
  • INA executives: Mike Haggery, founder and Chairman of the Board; Chad Dixon, COO, Marty Barrett, Executive Vice President; Gene Hall, senior account executive, Southeast region
  • Websites: www.irizar.com/usawww.inabussales.com
  • Phone: (702) 431-0707

*Source: Article by Larry Plachno, publisher of Bus Tours Magazine and National Bus Trader, Polo, Ill., (provided by Irizar)
**Source: LCT

Irizar/INA Bus Sales Timeline
1889: Company founded by Jose Antonio Irizar as maker of iron fittings for carriages and later, carriages.
1928: Company moves from horsepower to internal combustion.
1948: Moved up from wooden bus bodies to metal.
1963: Company becomes a cooperative of staff members.
1970s: Moved into international markets throughout Europe
1989: Introduced its Century bus model; begin building some bus bodies on Freightliner chassis
2009: Began offering integral bus coach line, including the i6.*
2015: Former limo and bus operator Mike Haggerty starts INA Bus Sales in Las Vegas, Nev., the exclusive U.S. distributor of Irizar buses.
2016: Irizar debuted i6 motorcoach to the limousine industry at the International LCT Show in Las Vegas Feb. 29-March 2; plans exhibit at BusCon Expo in Indianapolis, Sept. 19-21**
*Source: Article by Larry Plachno, publisher of Bus Tours Magazine and National Bus Trader, Polo, Ill., (provided by Irizar)
**Source: LCT

FASTFACTS: Irizar i6

  • Models: Standard and Super Cargo
  • Passengers: 56 + 1 + 1
  • Luggage capacity: 476 cu.ft. standard / 620 cu.ft. super cargo
  • Parcel rack compartment volume: 56.5 cu.ft.
  • Free-standing aisle height: 78 in.
  • Bus length: 45-ft
  • Height: 12.23 in. / 12.89 in.
  • Width: 102 in.
  • Turning circle: 40.8 ft.
  • Max authorized weight: 54,000 lbs.
  • Motor: Cummins ISX
  • Transmission: 6-speed Allison B500
  • Fuel capacity: 210 gallons
  • Max torque: 1,700 lb-ft.
  • Standard passenger amenities: Individual A/C and lighting, 3-pt. seat belts, armrests, footrests, bathroom in back, LED interior lighting
  • Optional passenger amenities: Moquette seats, leather seats, seats with leather inserts, 2+1 wider seating floor plan, coat hangers behind seats, seatback tables, magazine nets, 110V plug sockets for each seat, aircraft style locker lids; Bosch DVD, multiple monitor, and audio equipment; WiFi Internet, wood laminate flooring.
  • Retail prices: $525,000 / $570,000 (negotiated discounting available)

Sources: Irizar/INA and LCT

Related Topics: buses, charter and tour operators, Irizar, manufacturing, Mike Haggerty, motorcoach operators, motorcoaches, new vehicles, OEMs

Martin Romjue Editor
Comments ( 1 )
  • Anthony

     | about 2 years ago

    This is a great option for charter operators, i have been a passenger in a irizar and its simply amazing !!!!

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