Mexican Bus Technology Finding Footholds AbroadMon, 09/01/2014 - 12:10
Since it started making bodies for minibuses and chassis for GM and Ford, AYCO has maintained a steady line in bringing the latest technology on board. According to Javier Benítez Núñez, Director General of AYCO, the company participated with Ford in the engineering of the F350 cab chassis, transforming a heavy duty vehicle to one being designed for passenger transport. Since this achievement, AYCO has worked with different manufacturers such DINA, Daimler, Volkswagen, and Navistar to create chassis for Class 7 and 8 units. Benítez Núñez says the company also works with Class 5 and 6 companies but he prefers working on heavy duty trucks due to the complementarities between the capabilities of AYCO’s plant and its partners “We have always produced bodies and our policy is multi-brand so we do not have any problem working with different companies,” states Benítez Núñez.
Today, AYCO continues to develop technologically advanced units. Its latest project has been the development of a low entrance chassis, headed up by MAN alongside the participation of IPN and UNAM and funding from CONACYT. The result was the development of a bus seating 120 passengers that has just been released onto the market. AYCO is in charge of producing chassis and manufacturing has already started apace. However, this bus hardly provides an economical option since the current average price per chassis, either semi-forward control or flat front engine, is close to US$120,000. On top of that, the bodies cost US$70,000 apiece, almost double the current average market price. Since tariffs for passengers have remained the same, Benítez Núñez admits this option is not profitable for now. Certain clients in Monterrey are favoring such larger capacity buses but the market demand is not very strong. “As we are now ready to market, we can deliver 40 units if we need to but such an order would not be profitable. We need projects that are supported by the government that will target the renewal of public transport fleets,” he adds.
AYCO’s success has seen it expand its markets further afield, especially in Colombia. “We managed to enter with 500 units for the three modes of transport used in Bogota. This is one of the main export opportunities we have capitalized upon. We have participated in the development of units that comply with the strictest norms at an international level,” explains Benítez Núñez. As the company has plans to participate more actively in Peru, Ecuador, and the US, it has sought to familiarize itself the trends of each of these markets to offer the best technology and processes required. “The differences between cities such as Bogota and Mexico City are significant. The internal height of the body is higher than our norms, as are the width, types and numbers of windows, the security monitoring system, GPS system, collection system, and the types of seats, but we are used to dealing with such varieties in Mexico. In Monterrey, the seats have to be tall, reclining, and airconditioning is a must. In Guadalajara, certain seats and accessories such as reversing sensors are set to the rear bumper and inside the vehicle camera, as well as the GPS system,” details Benítez Núñez. For its most challenging market, the US, AYCO has carried out detailed market research. The company has found out that while in big cities buses are high-tech, in small population centers the bus chassis is still a viable option.