MCI planning new and redesigned coache

November 15, 2017 DES PLAINES, Ill. — Motor Coach Industries is rolling into 2018 on a high note with new and redesigned coaches, a major new service center in northern Califor- nia, continued support from its par- ent company and a customer-cen- tric focus from its f irst-year president. “NFI Group is a great parent,” MCI President Ian Smart said of New Flyer Industries Inc., which is wrapping up its second full year with its MCI subsidiary. “They’re supportive of invest- ments. They understand and re- spect the MCI brand and recognize that it’s got a real strong following and a loyal customer base,” said Smart, who took over as MCI’s president last January. “Their ap- proach is to support the organiza- tion and help it do the things that it wants to do to support customers.” MCI is preparing to exit 2017 with more units sold than a year ago and looking forward to the road ahead. A new addition to its commut- er-coach lineup was just revealed in October at APTA Expo in Atlanta. It is an update of its D-coach: the D45 CRT LE, or 45-foot commuter rapid transit low-entry vehicle. “We’ve got a very innovative design for our commuter custom- ers,” Smart said of the vehicle. The D45 CRT LE features a design allowing disabled passen- gers to roll into the vehicle via a curb-level ramp to a special vesti- bule and be secured, all within about 60 to 90 seconds. That’s a significant reduction in what Smart calls “dwell time” compared with traditional lift sys- tems, and makes loading and un- loading easier for the passenger and driver, also benefiting travel schedules. MCI believes it is the only commuter coach in the world with this type of capability. The curb-level ramp leads to a door that opens directly into a same-level, low-floor entry vesti- bule with passenger seating in the middle of the coach. The vestibule includes seating for five passen- gers, allowing for up to two se- cured mobility devices and an attendant. The model offers a 54-passen- ger seating configuration, with seating for 52 when two passengers use a mobility device. MCI, in an earlier statement about the coach, added that it fea- tures a progressive design and amenities and comfort to get com- muters to switch from commuting by car. Deliveries of the Buy-America c omp l i a n t , A l t o o n a - t e s t e d clean-diesel coach are expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2018, and MCI plans to offer an electric version of the coach in 2020. “We will move to production of that vehicle coming out of our sum- mer shutdown next year, so we’re literally about 12 months away,” Smart said. “We have a vehicle at the Altoona test track as we speak.” MCI’s D-coach is a design that’s been around a long time, Smart said. “It’s a very reliable vehicle, one that has been very good to our company and our customers, but it is time to update and upgrade that model,” he said. “So the CRT LE marks the first in what will be an update to our entire D line of prod- ucts that will occur over the next number of years — new styling, new look, new features.” MCI also continues advancing its J3500, a 35-foot coach it intro- duced earlier this year. It offers 40 seats standard, with an option for 44. “We’ve had a tremendous amount of interest from custom- ers,” Smart said of the vehicle, which fills what he said many would consider a notable gap in MCI’s product portfolio. MCI has a prototype of the J3500 and will begin its validation and testing shortly, he said. “The intent would be to have demos on the road mid-next year for customers to see and use and try and then…the vehicles would be for sale in early 2019,” Smart said. “It’s built off the J platform, so one of the design goals is to have as many common bits and pieces and parts as is possible,” he said. “The driver cockpit will be identical to that of a 45-foot coach, so the in- tent is to make these vehicles’ entry into service and use in the custom- ers’ fleet as seamless as is possible, so if someone is running J4500s today, a 3500 is a natural and sim- ple addition to their fleet.” MCI, meanwhile, continues to roll out its redesigned J4500 intro- duced earlier this year. MCI deliv- ered the first motorcoaches to cus- tomers in late August, and everything coming off the line since then has been the new 2018 model year coach, Smart said, add- ing that response to the redesign has been good. “We had a number of orders MCI planning new and redesigned coaches in 2018 The MCI D45 CRT LE commuter coach features a design allowing disabled passengers to roll into the vehicle via a curb-level ramp to a special vestibule and be secured, all within about 60 to 90 seconds. CONTINUED ON PAGE 12 c