Can this bus change the motorcoach industry?

Api Dogan is so sure the Super Coach XL is going to be a game changer, he has ordered 25 vehicles.

The confidence comes from the fact the UMA member had a hand in the design of the 57-seat bus built on a Freightliner chassis.

“It’s very luxury looking and yet at half the price. It’s a no brainer for us. This way we can increase our bottom line by reducing our costs,” said Dogan, managing member of the Chicago-area Infinity Transportation Management. “I believe this product will completely change our industry.”

There’s been a buzz about the latest bus from Executive Coach Builders since the vehicle was unveiled in early January at the UMA Motorcoach EXPO in Fort Lauderdale. With a base price of $260,000, the vehicles are less than half the price of top-end motorcoaches.

The reaction at UMA Motorcoach EXPO showroom exceeded David Bakare’s expectations.

“I hear a lot ‘about time’ and ‘this is going to save my business.’ These comments sound casual, but they are meaningful,” said Bakare, owner of Executive Coach Builders.

Easy to fix

Traditionally if a bus breaks down while on longer trips, it can be difficult to find someone to do the repair. That won’t be the case with the Super Coach XL, which is built on the ubiquitous Freightliner chassis. There are hundreds of service centers across the country for the U.S. truck manufacturer, a division of Daimler Trucks North America.

“Every truck repair shop, every diesel mechanic, can fix these vehicles. They are easy to maintain, easy to fix and cheaper to buy parts,” Dogan said.

Bakare says Super Coach XL gets 10-12 miles per gallon, which can be three times the mileage of traditional motorcoaches.

The bus is built differently, something others who viewed it at EXPO expressed wariness about. The engine is in the front, sticking out like a traditional bus or truck, unlike rectangular-shaped rear-engine motorcoaches. This design eliminates the need for having a third axle on the vehicle to support the weight in the back. The buses weigh a third less than traditional motorcoaches, about a 20,000-pound difference. The result is cost savings in maintenance and fuel efficiency and a slightly bumpier ride more suited to regional than cross-country trips. The vehicle’s main entrance, which features a motorcoach style door, has been engineered into the very front of the cab, allowing for more coach-style seating.

Luxury look

While these buses’ truck-like mechanics deliver efficiencies, Bakare wanted the look to be as luxurious as his limousines, so he searched out the industry’s best suppliers.

The combination has been enticing. Executive Coach has been flooded with orders since debuting at EXPO and the American Bus Association Marketplace 2019 in late January in Louisville, Kentucky. As a result, the wait time for the Super Coach XL has doubled to nearly five months. Bakare says once his factories in Springfield, Missouri, and Riverside, California, are up to speed on the production of these newest vehicles, the wait time will decrease.

After graduating from the University of Southern California with an engineering degree, he and his dad bought Executive Coach in 1993 when the then-17-year-old business was producing fewer than 50 limousines a year. He has grown the small manufacturer into one of the biggest makers of limousines in the country. In 2003, he expanded into the much bigger and more competitive bus market.

Bakare first began using the Freightliner chassis four years ago with the debut of the E Coach 45, followed by the 50-seat Super Coach in 2018.

Bakare credits the company’s innovation to listening to customers like Dogan, who had been talking to manufacturers for years about his vision for a more cost-effective vehicle built on a truck chassis.

“Our customers kept demanding bigger and bigger bus units. We started building the 50-passenger vehicles and adding underneath luggage compartment. All these people that buy used motor coaches sat up and took notice,” Bakare said. They weren’t our target audience, but they kept coming back to us and saying, ‘Can you do this? Can you fix this?’”


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