ABC and Van Hool promise to “Make it happen”

NASVHILLE—Coach interior amenities, parts, service and technology were the highlights of Motorcoach EXPO for Van Hool and its North American distributor, ABC Companies.

Thom Peebles speaks during the ABC press conference

Contributing to the environmental sustainability theme pervasive this year, their booth displayed the developmental model of their first battery-electric motorcoach, and they announced an electric repower agreement with Lightning Systems.

“One of the things we are trying to embrace this year is the mantra ‘We make it happen,'” said Thom Peebles, vice president of marketing for ABC Companies.

Restyled Van Hool CX 45 and CX 35 motorcoaches framed the ABC booth.

“The coaches behind us have had a number of updates,” Peebles said during the ABC/Van Hool media session. “We have more operators telling us their passengers have greater expectations. We need to target automotive expectations.”

The 2020 CX models carry new entry stairwells as well as upgraded interior materials, finishes and restrooms. Driver space was expanded five inches to give operators “an open and spacious feel,” Peebles said.

Two versions of ambient lighting are offered, including one that can bathe the interior in one of 12 colors. As for technology, the coaches can carry a 360-degree interior camera, produced by REI, that improves interior observation with fewer cameras.

New tech

Additional driver assistance systems will become available this year, the companies announced. These are branded as RECON—Readiness for Emergency Conditions. The package can  include a 360-degree-view, four-camera exterior system; side view camera with in-dash display; driver alert and adaptive cruise control; and the Mobileye package with a single forward-facing camera with a compact auxiliary dash display providing lane departure warning, forward collision warning, pedestrian/cyclist detection and over-speed warnings.

Parts and service

As competitive pressures create unprecedented enhancements in parts and service systems, ABC is striving to “Make it happen” in that field, too. It announced at EXPO that its parts activities have been consolidated under the brand ABC Parts Source and that expansion work has been completed at its Jersey City, New Jersey, facility.

“We have doubled that location and added a 20,000-square-foot parts center,” Peebles said. “Our Parts Source group has done a phenomenal job. They offer OE (original equipment) parts, not only Van Hool but all major brands. We also sell aftermarket parts. We have drastically increased the amount of suppliers we have and have 200,000 SKUs (stock keeping units) in stock.”

Also announced was ABC Service Assist, which offers operators more flexibility in scaling services to their needs and capabilities, ranging from a mechanic based at the operator’s shop to mobile assistance.

A pre-owned Van Hool TX 45 was displayed at EXPO to illustrate ABC’s offerings ranging from base to plus and certified pre-owned coaches, which undergo an 81-point inspection and receive numerous upgrades.

Electrifying

The Van Hool CX 45E made its EXPO debut in Nashville as ABC announced that it plans to begin customer deliveries in the second half of the year. The 56-passenger battery-electric motorcoach will have a nominal range of 220 miles, depending on road and environmental conditions, and be fully rechargeable in 4.2 hours, Peebles said.

ABC also announced a partnership with Colorado tech company Lightning Systems to convert two off-lease Van Hools from diesel to battery-electric propulsion.

“By converting from diesel to electric we can extend the operational life of a quality motorcoach while allowing customers to leverage their current investment in many of the parts, service and training already in place to support their existing fleet,” said Roman Cornell, president and chief commercial officer of ABC.

“It is a smart way to integrate zero emissions into a motorcoach fleet.”

 

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