Busworld India 2016 brings the bus industry together

img_20161111_151633163-copy

Held at Bangalore, the seventh edition of Busworld India saw the bus industry come together and showcase its strength.

Story by:

Bhushan Mhapralkar

The seventh edition of Busworld India 2016 opened its gates to visitors in the morning of November 10, 2016, at Bangalore’s International Exhibition Center. The fair was organised by Kortrijk-based Busworld International, and supported by ASRTU, ARAI, IRU, ICAT and BOCI. Inaugurated by Bart De Groof, Consul General of Belgium in the presence of Oleg Kamberski, Head – President Transport, IRU, Didier Ramoudt, President, Busworld International, Rajender Kumar Kataria, Managing Director, KSRTC, and Vice President ASRTU, Prasanna Patwardhan, Chairman and Managing Director, Prasanna Purple, and President BOCI, Hakan Agnevall, President, Volvo Bus Corporation, Jan Deman, Busworld Academy, and Rajan Sharma, Managing Director, Inter Ads Exhibitions Pvt. Ltd., the fair saw the showcasing of some of the most interesting buses available in India. Right at the front were parked two Alma Mammoth buses. Painted in an attractive shade of yellow and red, they marked the India launch of these buses. Of particular interest was the yellow bus, a sleeper coach derivative of the Mammoth. Built on a MAN front-engine (power bumped to 280 hp) bus platform, the Mammoth marks the flagship offering in the inter-city bus space of the Mumbai-based MG Group. Expressed Anil Kamat, Managing Director, MG Group, “We will be launching the Mammoth in the domestic market in seater and sleeper variants. With it, we are set to transform the bus building industry in India.” The Mammoth is expected to cost in the range of Rs.60 to Rs.65 lakh.

img_20161110_120255030-copy img_20161110_105750276-copy img_20161110_105737957-copy

Bus makers sparkle

In what could be termed as the highlight of the fair, the MG Group also unveiled a tarmac coach. Unveiled by R V Deshpande, Minister for Large and Medium Scale Industries, Infrastructure Development, Government of Karnataka, the bus, called the Columbus, is a monocoque ultra-low and flat-floor design. With a passenger entry floor height of as low as 290 mm (after kneeling), the Columbus seats 8 people, and can accommodate 67 people. It is powered by a 230 hp Cummins engine, and features a smartly designed interior. Offering swift passenger entry and exit with five passenger doors (three on the left, and two on the right side), the Columbus is equipped with a six-speed ZF auto transmission. Featuring a double drop front axle, the Columbus has a fully composite and leak-proof roof panel. Lighting is LED intensive. Incorporating technologies like ECAS, ABS, and CANBus, the Columbus tarmac bus meets the Airport Handling Manual regulations.

20161110_150743-copy

Volvo Buses unveiled the 12 m long B8R luxury bus. It will replace the B7R platform, and is powered by a 330 hp, 8-litre (D8C) engine made by VE Commercial Vehicles at its Pithampur plant. This is in line with the announcement to localise key aggregates. Volvo also announced the upgrading of its 13.8 m multi-axle 9400. The inter-city luxury coach gets a new, more powerful 410 hp, 11-litre BSIV compliant engine over the earlier 9-litre engine. The 11-litre engine of the 14.5 m Volvo coach has been upgraded to BSIV emission standards. The bus featured driver drowsiness alert, breath analyser and a chemical toilet. Its Prakash Fainsa push-back seats had individual mobile charging points. Said Akash Passey, Senior Vice President – Business Region International, Volvo Bus Corporation, “India is one of our home markets, and we are focussed on the market to maintain a strong position. We are addressing the demand of our customers for localised products. The 8-litre engine, the heart of the vehicle, we have localised, and this would reflect on the cost and maintenance of the vehicle. On the 14.5 m bus, we have upgraded the engine so that the performance will improve for the end-customer. It will improve the operating performance of the customer.” About return on investment in connection with premium buses, Passey averred, “It is not about the bus being expensive, but about taxes. They have increased. Fare differentials associated with premium buses is vanning. Effective fare realisation is lower than earlier, and is impacting ROI. There is a need to have a tax structure in place. Today, 30 to 40 per cent of the bus cost is paid as taxes to the Government of India and directly or indirectly to states. Hopefully the GST will address this. In the case of per seat taxation, we are looking at the new Motor Vehicle Act. The economy is down. When it is good, more people move around. The ROI for premium buses, like ours should be five to seven years.”

img_20161110_120417279-copyimg_20161111_115527450-copy

SML Isuzu displayed two new buses, a 20-seater Executive Ex Coach based on a longer, 4240 mm wheelbase. The other bus, the Ecomax, is built on a smaller, 2815 mm wheelbase, and can seat 13 people. It can be had with an air conditioner and individual mobile charging points. Daimler India Commercial Vehicles displayed a BharatBenz staff and school bus. While industry sources claim that Wrightbus has pulled out of the Indian venture, the two buses (school and staff) made for a pretty site. Either bus is powered by a 140 hp, 3.9-litre four-cylinder common-rail turbodiesel BSIV engine. Transmission is a 6-speed manual unit, and the bus features ABS and tilt adjustable steering. Capable of seating 49 people (with 3×2 seat configuration) and 26 people with push back 2×1 type seats, the BharatBenz buses are said to be based on the Fuso Fighter platform. The suspension of the buses is made up of parabolic leaf springs, double-acting telescopic shock absorbers and anti-roll bars with stabilisers.

Ancillaries

img_20161110_165528859-copyimg_20161110_142035704-copy

Bus ancillary manufacturers were out in good force at the fair. At the forefront were the bus AC manufacturers. Expressed K P Singh, Director-India Region, Eberspaecher Suetrak India, that they are experiencing good growth. “Our production has risen from 3000 units to 5000 units,” he said. Displaying bus air conditioning systems, Sphere Thermal Systems Private Limited showcased an (electrical) air conditioner for hybrid and electric buses. The company, said Pramod Verma, Vice President, specialises in central air conditioning, transport air conditioning and refrigeration products. Indulging in the insulation bit of reefer trucks, Sphere, according to Verma, offers bus ACs in the 5kW to 50 kW range. Having a technical tie-up with Guchen, China, the company has grown 400 per cent since inception in 2011 according to Verma. The market for bus ACs, he avers, is between 20,000 and 25,000 units as compared to 12,000 and 14,000 units five years ago. Mentioned Verma, that market penetration of bus ACs is still at 20 to 25 per cent, and there is big potential for growth. The areas for growth, he outlined, include staff buses, school buses and tourist buses. STUs, said Verma, are bulk buyers. Their AC buses are helping them to earn good revenue, he added.

Shatrughan Kumar, Director, Trans ACNR, expressed that it is easy to build an AC due to easy availability of parts, the challenge lies in providing the right support. He drew attention to a service app. his company has launched. Referring to south India as a strong AC bus market, Kumar announced that they command 90 per cent of the AC bus market in Kerala. Regarding growth, Kumar said that they have already fitted 5500 ACs as compared to 3200 ACs last year. He stressed upon addressing customer needs. Trans ACNR, said Kumar, is offering its customers AMCs tailored to meet their needs. This, he quipped, saves the operator from unexpected expenses and sudden surprises.

img_20161111_115840162-copyimg_20161111_104741863-copy img_20161110_141529839-copy

Spheros Motherson displayed its range of bus ACs, including the unit it offers for hybrid and electric buses. According to Cyril Xavier, COO, Spheros Motherson Thermal Systems Ltd., “Sheer performance and reliability is what we are banking upon.” “We have a product for the premium, and for the aftermarket.” Pointing at the new CC355 bus AC, which will replace the CC350, Xavier avers, “No one’s stronger than the other in the bus business. One stop solution is being demanded by operators, and is driving a market for fully-built buses. Demand for midi- and larger bus ACs is growing.” The Revo ACs Spheros Motherson offers is born out of the need to address energy efficiency needs of premium bus manufacturers. Claimed Xavier that their Revo E has been fitted to the Tata Starbus Hybrid bus.

Austrain company, Fasching Salzburg Gmbh displayed a wide range of seat belt systems for buses. The sales director and authorised officer of the company, Harald Pebl Ing, expressed, “Safety initiative should be inculcated in India. Awareness has to be infused in the culture.” Seat belts, he mentioned, are not new for the Indian market. Drawing attention to the regulatory norms being slated for November 2017, Pebl averred that seat belts will get its regulatory ordinance. He stressed upon fitting inter-city buses with seat belts. “We want to tap the Indian market with our core strength,” he added.

 

img_20161111_125031544-copyimg_20161111_115139521-copy

France-based Actia Group put on display bus instrument consoles and dials. The company has a subsidiary in India, and specialises in electronic vehicle management, power electronics, transport equipment and services, telecommunication, obsolescence management, and workshop euipment and services. Anurag Jain, Chief Operating Officer, Actia India Pvt., Ltd., said, “Multiplex is necessary, but will be looked at only when the regulatory norms instruct so. Considering the volatile driver market, cabin ambiance is important. In this direction, we are providing onboard solutions, telematics and diagnostics solutions, both at the aftermarket and OEM level.” Stressing upon producing a product that has the provision for upgrading and interpolating, Jain averred, “We are supplying BSVI driven products to the European market. Our products are qualified to war-front the atmospheric conditions. The demand for message centre and communication is increasing. The number of ECUs (Electronic Control Units) is multiplying. Authenticity of data is a challenge, and our system can get rid of the challenges and network efficiently.”

Sika India displayed the range of bonding solutions it offers to the bus industry. These include polyurethane, polyurethane hybrid, epoxy hybrid, hotmelt adhesive and reactive, and laminating adhesive technology solutions. Catering to clients like Tata Marcopolo, Ashok Leyland and Scania, Belgaum-based RG Fibrotech displayed bus front and rear fascia. Bangalore-based Mecolam Engineering displayed fibreglass products like fascias, dashboards, engine covers, etc., that it offers to the bus industry. Lamilux (India) highlighted its composite solutions for buses. Said Cosima-Klinger Paul, Managing Director, Lamilux India Private Ltd., that weight is the criteria that Lamilux is pushing in the bus industry with FRP products. “Mahindra is contemplating the use of our FRP products in the bus that they are developing,” she added. Lamilux is catering to the needs of ACGL and JBM in India.

Valeo displayed its range of compressors for bus air conditioners whereas Doga India put up an attractive display of its wiper systems. The company will begin manufacturing these early next year. Apart from windshield wiper and washer systems, the company specialises in window lift systems, geared and non-geared motors, gas springs, tank systems, and electrofans, blower and air ducts.

20161110_142513-copy 20161110_163454-copy20161110_142513-copy 20161110_181952-copy

Hyderabad-based Smartdrive showcased alcohol detection solutions like breath analysers. J.S.S Steelitalia Ltd. displayed an exposed tubular section of the bus body. The company is promoting the use of stainless steel tubes for bus body construction in the interest of safety, reliability, lower operating cost and better fuel economy. Specialising in transportation décor, Niemla put on display fabrics that find use in bus seating systems. Putting up an attractive bus seating system display were Pinnacle Industries. Specialising in the cutomisation of Force Travellers, PKN (Prime Engitech Pvt. Ltd.), displayed some very interesting trim parts and an air conditioner. Catering to almost all the bus makers and bus body builders, Pacoline Industries, displayed mirror assemblies, interior lights, reflectors, warning triangles, steering wheels, spray suppression flaps and other plastic components that find use in the construction of a bus.

img_20161110_141027299-copy img_20161110_124655210-copy

Make in India

Singing the ‘Made in India’ note, the Busworld India 2016 saw the participation of 77 exhibitors. With a good mix of domestic and international players, the absence of key bus manufacturers, Ashok Leyland and Tata Motors, failed to dampen the spirit of the show. Some very exciting buses from Daimler India, SML Isuzu, Volvo Buses India, and the MG Group were the high point. In what felt like a slightly subdued affair when compared to the last edition held at Mumbai in 2015, Busworld India 2016 was successful in bringing the bus industry together. It were perhaps the sudden demonetisation announcement by prime minister Narendra Modi on the evening of November 8, 2019, that weighed on the minds of visitors. Footfall felt like it was affected. Good connectivity to the exhibition venue was lacking.

Busworld 2015 reflects a positive upshift

Article by: Team CV

Reflecting a positive upshift, Busworld 2015 underscored the changing needs of the bus industry and bus buyers, but not without highlighting the need for one million buses to address the connectivity gap.

The Busworld 2015 reflected a positive upshift in the bus CV segment. Held at Mumbai, and organised by Belgium-based Busworld International in association with Delhi-based Inter Ads Exhibitions, the sixth edition of the fair succeeded in bringing together OEMs, coach builders, tier suppliers and various other component manufacturers. Supported by Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), International Road Transport Union (IRU), ICAT and the Association of Road Transport Undertakings (ASRTU), the biennial event attracted over 60 exhibitors. In his inaugural speech, Dider Ramoudt, President, Busworld International, announced that his was a company with a mission. Advocating the need to move to cleaner burning engines, Ramoudt said, “Adopting the prime minister’s scheme Clean India, there is a requirement for an ecological, sustainable transportation, including electricity, hybrid and other mediums. The bus industry the world over has bright potential. It will grow to 6,64,000 numbers in 2018 from 5,12,000 units in 2013, of which India and China will contribute 50 per cent.”

Mentioning that there are 62 State Transport Undertakings (STU) with 1.5 lakh buses that move 1.583 million people, P S Ananda Rao, Executive Director, ASRTU, expressed the need to reduce congestion, pollution and accidents by Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system and high capacity buses. “Over the costlier option of Metro and Mono-rail, it is the bus that can connect villages which are currently unconnected. One-million buses are immediately needed in addition to 7.5 lakh buses present. To address the potential for rural connectivity through JNNURM, there is a need for 50,854 buses at 600 buses per 10 million rural population,” he stated. Stressing upon the next year to be very promising for the CV industry, Rao commented that there is high head room for growth.

Describing Busworld as a Belgian concept that was launched in 1970, Karl Vanden Bossche, Consul General, Consulate of Belgium, said that India has the best prospect for growth with the average population aging 25 years. Pointing at rising tourism, which will give birth to the need for transportation, and is good for ‘Make-in-India’, the Consul General stressed on the need for a FTA. “The FTA with the European Union has been happening for the last eight years,” he added. “The Industry led by IRU can support Modi to meet the demanding challenge of providing sustainable mobility,” averred Janusz Lancy, President, IRU. Chief Guest, Diwakar Raute, Minister for Transport, Government of Maharashtra, stressed on the need for low cost buses with the best technology and comfort. He also touched upon the concept of inland waterways promoted by the transport minister at the centre, Nitin Gadkari.

Article by: Team CV

OEMs emphasise on technology and comfort

Displaying the only ethanol powered city bus in India that operates in Gadkari’s constituency Nagpur apart from the ‘made-in-India’ Metrolink premium inter-city coach, Scania reiterated its commitment to promote biogas and ethanol as an eco-friendly transportation solution. Said Anders Grundstormer, MD, Scania India and SVP, Scania Gropu, “We are not just selling a bus, but the idea of an city which wants to run on an environmentally friendly fuel, made in India. Nagpur will be a role model city in India.” Stating that his company will deliver 55 buses in 2015, and is expected to deliver 400 ethanol or biogas buses by 2016. Grundstormer averred, “There will be two product launches this year and more next year. In all, we will have five product launches for India in the coming year and the half.” A ‘surprise-entry’, SML-Isuzu displayed three key buses from its range. All three, including a small executive bus and a large executive bus, are aimed at staff transportation, and intra or inter-city executive travel. The mid-sized bus is based on a versatile platform with an ability to double up as a city-bus for an STU.

Coach builders make for an exciting show

Yet another city bus that managed to grab attention at the show, and that too from a coach builder was the the integral construction 12 m city bus. This low-floor bus, built by Bangalore-based Veera Vahana Udyog, is powered by a 6.7-litre Cummins engine and an Allison 3000 Series automatic transmission. Attractive looking, with good fit-finish standards, the city bus, according to K Srinivas Reddy, MD, is undergoing homologation. It is fitted with ZF axles sourced from Germany, and has a local content of approximately 85 per cent. The Mammoth bus by Alma Motors, an MG Group company was developed and conceptualised in partnership with MAN Trucks India. A landmark achievement according to Anil Kamat, Executive Director, MG Group, the Mammoth is powered by a 220 hp 6-cylinder MAN (front) turbocharged engine. Equipped with air suspension, ABS, cruise control, and EM-Secure (Emergency Management – Secure) that makes evacuation safe and panic free, in case of an emergency situation, the bus is aimed at addressing the evolving customer, passenger and driver needs. Measuring 12 m in length, the Mammoth is fitted with 22.5-inch tubeless radial tyres.

One of the oldest coach builders in the country, Automobile Corporation of Goa Ltd. (ACGL) displayed a range of buses based on the Tata Motors platform. ACGL built 4,951 buses last year. Of these 3,000 were exported, which would account for 75 per cent of th total buses built. Reflecting ACGL’s export thrust to the markets in Africa and the Middle East (Qatar especially) was a left-hand drive school bus. The one beside it had the front and rear fascia made of pressed steel. Panels pressed at ACGL’s plant at Jejuri near Pune are welded together at the Goa facility to arrive at the pressed steel fascias. If an executive inter-city bus built for Pune-based Penosh drew attention, it was the ‘G-Duck’ amphi-bus, painted in a shade of bright yellow, that stood out. Designed by Advanced Amphibious Design (AAD), a USD 3.5 million company with operations at Goa and Honolulu (Hawaii) according to Miles Needham, Chairman & President, the G-Duck is powered by a 130 hp, 5.8-litre Cummins turbodiesel engine with a 6-speed gearbox and a four-wheel drive mechanism. If the specs seem to indicate that this vehicle has drawn a fair deal from Tata’s 1212c 4×4 truck, a power-take-off arrangement from the centrally mounted transfer case powers the propeller at the rear. Weighing about 10-tonnes the amphi-bus will find use with Goa Tourism said Needham. Leveraging AAD’s experience to build amphibious buses and AGCL’s expertise to build customised buses, six G-Ducks, capable of seating 32 people each, have been ordered.

Article by: Team CV

Suppliers make their mark

Lamilux India displayed its existing range of products as well as the new high-impact FRP material with 48 per cent glass for use in bus body construction and reefer truck construction. Said Dr. Cosima Klinger-Paul, MD, “The market has risen beyond the level of whether FRP (or GRP) material will succeed, and is now keen to know if newer applications are possible.” She added, “The market for FRP is exploding.” Allison Transmission (India) displayed an interesting cutaway of the T270 automatic transmission that does service in many buses in India. Hubner Interface Systems India, a 100 per cent subsidiary of Germany-based Hubner Group, displayed an articulation system for buses. It finds use in a vestibular bus. Starting local manufacture at a facility in Bangalore, the company, said Makarand Shahane, Director, Hubner India, believes that there is a substantial support for articulated buses in the country. “It nearly doubles the carrying capacity over that of a 12 m bus,” he added. Piyush Uniyal, GM – Business Development, RMG Polyvinyl India (Wonderfloor), averred that though cyclic in nature, the transport industry is growing.

Describing India as a big market with small bus manufacturers that make five to six buses a year, Uniyal said that his company offers a wide range of flooring solutions to the bus industry. On display were the new generation transport flooring solutions called traction flooring, and the traditional flooring solutions called the embossed flooring.

Michelin India displayed the 295/80 R22.5 tubeless radial tyre for city bus application. It also displayed the 295/80 R 22.5 X Multi Z tubeless radial tyre for inter-city buses. A France-based company that invented radial tyres and manufactures radial tyres only, Michelin truck and bus radials, said Sanjeev Chawla, Country Manager – OE, Defence and Alternate Channels, are earning an image for quality and long life. Eberspaecher Suetrak Bus Climate Control Systems (India) has introduced a new, air-con system for mid-size buses, which facilitates easier fitment and servicing. K P Singh, Director – India, averred, “India will be the global hub for the new mid-size bus AC, powered by a 300cc compressor from Valeo.” Stressing on a long-term business strategy, the Indian operations of the company, said Singh, are stabilising. Eberspaecher acquired Carrier globally in 2010 except the American operations, marking its entry into the bus air-conditioning business.

Songz Automobile Air Conditioning Co. displayed a large bus and small bus air conditioning system. Said B S Arora, GM – Business Development, India, Songz Automobile Air Conditioning Co. Ltd., “We are also looking at offering lower priced air-conditioning system variants of the seven systems we currently offer by doing away with less used features to better address the needs of the customers.”

Subros Ltd. displayed its 18 and 25 kW bus ACs system targeted at the mid-size segment. Panjak Mehra, DGM and AM, Exports and Marcom said, “In recent time there has been an increase in demand for ACs in school buses and the staff travel segment which has pushed growth in this segment. To cater to this demand we came out with the 18 kW bus AC unit last year.” He added, “We launched another 25 kW unit to cater to this segment in early 2015.” Offering a full range of bus ACs starting from 4 kW going up to 36 kW, Subros has added a 45 kW unit set to be launched this year which will go into the low floor intra city bus segment.

Harita Seating Systems showcased a modified version of its bus passenger seating system Utthara, which was launched specifically for markets in North India. It also displayed the Magnum P1 with 3-point seat belts, which finds use with OEMs like Scania and Volvo in India. Said Avinash Sinha, Sr. Engineer, Sales and Marketing, Harita Seating Systems Ltd., “Our products are made as per Indian environment and conditions and we have close to 90 models of just bus passenger seats.” Apart from premium luxury buses, Harita supplies seating systems for standard and semi-deluxe range of buses.

Kalyani Maxion Wheels displayed its range of steel wheel rims. The company’s portfolio ranging from 13-inch to 24-inch for tubeless and tube-type applications. “Our major revenue comes from tubeless wheel rims. We are pioneers in manufacturing tubeless wheel rims,” stated Kaushik K Doshi, Deputy Manager, Marketing. “Basically our 22.5” x 8.25” wheel rims for buses are quite popular,” he added.

Supported by seminars that delved on subjects like urban mobility for smart cities, BRT, coach tourism, fire safety, driver training, intelligent transport systems including electro-mobility, and thus cleaner, safer and effective bus and coach services, Busworld 2015 was successful in its endeavour to bring the bus industry closer and expose itself to the new innovations, technologies developed. Technologies that would help to mitigate risks, enhance comfort, reliability and comfort of bus transportation systems. Busworld 2015 was successful to a good extent in projecting the image of its organiser, which Ramoudt explained as a missionary for sales of sustainable transport. The road ahead is challenging, but also of growth. This was amply transmitted by the participants and the visitors.