While it is old news now that Tata Motors is developing luxury bases for long-haul routes in India under its partnership with Brazil’s Marcopolo, the company has now said it will launch the first batch of these buses in the Indian market in the October-December quarter.
Speaking to Autocar Professional, R Ramakrishnan, senior vice-president – Product Strategy and Planning and Customer Value Creation (Commercial Vehicle Business Unit), Tata Motors, said that the automaker will launch its air-conditioned luxury segment offering christened the Magna, with two- and three-axle options.
“The Magna bus will be launched very soon. We have two-axle and three-axle options on this platform. The three-axle bus is currently in development, and we will start with the two-axle buses first. These will come in two different sizes to start with – one is called the ICV class and the other the MCV class. The three-axle buses are in the HCV class and will come a little later,” he said.
The luxury coaches will have a seating capacity of 30-50 passengers, with varying legroom and space requirements, and will get various engine options. Tata Marcopolo will offer the ICV class buses with 120-150hp motors, the MCV range with 150-230hp engines and the HCV class buses with 230-280hp motors, Ramakrishnan said.
“Different powertrains have been developed as we are trying to cater to a whole range of customers in the Indian market. At the top end, these buses will be in the category of Volvo and Mercedes-Benz luxury buses, while we will also supply to a lower price market as well,” he added.
With the ongoing improvement in road infrastructure in the country, demand for long-route luxury buses has risen consierably. Currently, around 700-800 inter-city super luxury buses are sold in India each year and Volvo is the dominant player here with a 50-60% share.
Other foreign CV makers like Scania and Mercedes-Benz also offer multi-axle rear engine buses in the luxury coach segment for long-distance travel but come with a premium price tag.
Tata Marcopolo’s forthcoming luxury bus with its front engine, twin-axle option, can be used for 350km-700km runs and will be also be suitable for inter-city operations. The pricing is expected to be very competitive, as Tata looks to capture this segment.
As reported earlier, the two-axle Magna will be 12,000mm long, 3,800mm tall and 2,600mm wide. Keeping in mind the recent incidents of fire breakouts in luxury buses, the Magna is built with a GI tubular structure and will come with fire retardant marine plywood and 12mm anti-skid vinyl flooring.
While the luxury coach buses will be produced at the company’s Dharwad manufacturing facility in Karnataka, the chassis will be supplied by Tata Motors’ Pune production plant. Tata Marcopolo’s Dharwad plant has a manufacturing capacity of 15,000 buses per annum with a workforce of around 3,000 workers.