In the beginning of June, a happy group of tourists traveling to Norway with Richou Voyages became the first in Europe to experience the new Volvo 9900 coach. The vehicle is the latest addition to the company’s large fleet, which is based in western France. The family-owned business originally specialized in local bus services and is now a global tour operator with 29 agencies in France.
“I had the chance to go to Sweden to test drive the new Volvo 9900 – how could anyone resist?” says Stéphane Richou, General Manager and part owner of Richou Voyages. “Offering a first-class experience to our customer is our main priority, and that comes with the most comfortable coaches because amazing trips start with amazing vehicles.”
A loyal customer
Richou Voyages has a long history of working with Volvo Buses. The company has a fleet of 100 buses, including 60 touring coaches, of which 30 are Volvos. “80 percent of our bus activity comes from tourism, and the rest is made of regular line operations, like school lines or city transfers,” explains Richou.
So why Volvo Buses? “Back when my grand-father started the business, Richou was the first touring coach operator in France to introduce the theater floor, an interior floor that incorporates a slight downward slope from the back to the front of the vehicle, which improved forward vision for passengers,” recalls Stéphane Richou. “At that time, in the 1980s, only Drögmöller offered what we believe is a key feature for the comfort of our passengers. We became a Volvo customer when the manufacturer was taken over by Volvo in 1995.”
For Richou Voyages, the theater floor remains an essential attribute of any premium coach - which is also offered by Van Hool, hence why the brand accounts for the other half of Richou’s fleet of touring coaches. “The other reason why we stick with Volvo is the Volvo I-shift transmission system,” he adds. “Completely manufactured by Volvo, with no need for assembly, it offers superior drivability and a unique smooth, quiet and pleasant drive.”
Reaching new standards in luxury
The next generation of Volvo 9900s has already greatly impressed Stéphane Richou: “It definitely reaches new heights! Not only regarding safety, fuel consumption, or on-board electronics, but the design is also absolutely incomparable. Being longer, higher, with that sloping window line on the sides – it gives a massive luxurious and statutory impression which is expected by our customers when they sign up for a long-distance journey. No doubt the Volvo 9900 completes our range of premium vehicles and sits on the top.”
First long-distance trip to the Norwegian fjords
Shipped at the beginning of 2019, the new Volvo 9900 was initially just used on short trips around France, as a way of seeking feedbacks from both passengers and drivers. In May, it was sent to Norway for its first long-distance journey, which included the narrow curves of the Norwegian fjords. “The driver’s assistance Volvo Dynamic Steering is a real added value on those kinds of trips,” says Stéphane Richou. “Not to mention safety components such as brake assistance, automated adjustments in case of deviation and gravity center lowering above 80 km/h for better stability, aerodynamics and limited fuel consumption.”
Sustainability is also a priority for the Richou family, who is always looking for breakthrough innovations from Volvo Buses on cleaner energy: “We are very sensitive to the ecological issue and willing to include clean energy, as long as we get the right solutions that fit our needs and the time to manage a sustainable transition for our operations.”
About Richou Voyages
3 reasons why Richou chose the all-new Volvo 9900