Volvo Buses has had a major success in India with its luxurious air-conditioned intercity buses. Volvo has a 60 per cent market share in this segment. But this is a question of relatively small volumes. Volvo Buses sold around 400 of these buses in India last year.
Volvo Buses has the chance of achieving significantly larger volumes with the introduction of city buses. The city bus market is estimated at around 10,000 buses per year.
To begin with in Bangalore there will be 25 buses in service on five different routes around the city. Ticket prices will be three times as expensive as the buses used today, but comfort will also be an experience.
On India's city buses today you need to climb three high steps just to get into the bus, there is no air conditioning and to deal with the heat the windows are kept open, making it very noisy and allowing exhaust fumes into the bus.
Lemon in front of the tyres
Volvo's city bus is built using the B7RLE chassis and the bodywork is based on the Volvo 8700. They have low entry, wheelchair ramp and air conditioning.
The chassis are assembled at Volvo's factory outside Bangalore while a local company does the bodybuilding.
The opening ceremony was a magnificent occasion. Three of the buses were displayed outside the impressive parliament building in Bangalore in front of many invited guests and journalists. The buses were given a religious blessing and a lemon was placed in front of each tyre. This provides prosperity and success by driving over them on the maiden journey.
Most city bus companies in India will follow services with the first buses with great interest. If these services in Bangalore are a success then Volvo Buses has many opportunities to organise more, bigger deals in the country.
January 25, 2006
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