Customers drive motorcoach manufacturer

MCI counts on feedback to fuel advances and growth

DES PLAINS, Ill. — Motor Coach Industries (MCI) has been part of the North American motorcoach industry from its very start, more than 85 years ago. It has built a legacy of innovation, workhorse reliability and low cost of operation.

While growth and technological advancement are key to MCI’s operation, the real driver of the company is its customers and their ridership feedback, which MCI spends a lot of time collecting, analyzing and utilizing.

“Every move we make is based on listening to our customers’ needs and market requirements,” says Ian Smart, president of MCI. “In every model year progression, we are attuned to the safety and comfort of passengers and drivers, the operational ease of maintenance for mechanics and overall pleasurable riding experience and reliability of our coaches.”

Today, MCI serves a wider range of operators in both the private and public transportation segments than ever, according to Smart.

“Two decades ago, you might have said the market was comprised of just tour, charter, scheduled and private and public long-distance commuter service,” he explains. “Now you have operators like MegaBus and Europe’s FlixBus with its Uber-style approach to on-demand service. You also have expansion in employee transportation and traditional limo or black car operators moving into motorcoaches, with a different expectation of MCI support. It’s a whole new world that we have to respond to.”

Responding to customers includes MCI continuing to enhance its service and support, which is an important part of the company’s growth strategy. Its newest MCI Service Center in the San Francisco Bay Area is state-of-the-art and considered its new flagship, Smart says.

“It is the blueprint for the way renovated and future MCI Service Centers will look and operate,” he says. “Right now, we’re investing in updates to our Los Alamitos, Calif., facility. These locations are also home to our pre-owned inventory, and it’s important to have our customers know that this network is going to serve all their needs—parts, service and pre-owned sales with MCI-trained technicians at each location.”

Smart says MCI has lofty internal goals, which help the company to better serve its customers. The first goal looks at employees, making MCI a great place to work. Then, it constantly seeks to update its information technology for better operations, inside and outside the company.

Finally, MCI looks to continue the successful merger of culture and operations with new parent NFI Group, North America’s largest bus and motorcoach manufacturer and parts supplier, and make its products and MCI Service Centers better each day.

New Flyer, which purchased MCI in 2015, became the NFI Group earlier in 2018.

“Over the years as MCI has had different owners, our customers have been loyal and patient,” Smart says. “We’re rewarding that patience with products and support. We’re very thankful for our customers.”

Examples of listening to customers, and rewarding their patience, include innovations and updates with MCI’s D45 CRT LE, J4500 and J3500 vehicles.

Smart says the D45 CRT LE significantly improves accessibility and lowers dwell time, especially important in commuter and employee long-distance service.

The J4500 now comes with best-in-class legroom, he says, with maximum seating capacity for 60, with a swing-out radiator, electric e-Fan system and the latest in available Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, all to help operators earn more revenue and lower total operating costs.

Finally, the 35-foot MCI J3500, with seating for up to 44 passengers, answers customer criteria for a smaller coach, with the best payload capacity and parts compatibility.

MCI’s future products are also customer- and market-driven. According to Smart, MCI is benefiting from NFI Group’s long-time battery-electric expertise as it rolls out its own CHARGE series of coaches.

“Our battery-electric J4500e and D45 CRTe LE, underway for 2020, will give operators the most comprehensive choices in purpose-built, all-electric coaches to meet their environmental goals,” he says. “We hope to make battery-electric available across all models of coaches in the future.”

And the company plans to continue listening and growing in the overall motorcoach transportation market.

“MCI wants to continue to earn our customer’s trust with great coaches, parts, service and support,” he shares. “My team members and I are really excited to be part of the growth of MCI, and the industry. We look forward to showcasing our new models and demonstrating industry support and leadership at UMA Expo.”

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