Tata Marcopolo to take on Volvo, Scania with all-new Magna luxury bus

by Jaishankar Jayaramiah 16 Feb 2015

Tata Marcopolo, a 51:49 JV between Tata Motors and Brazil-based CV giant Marcopolo, is all set to launch a super deluxe fully-built bus, which is aimed at taking on the buses from Swedish commercial vehicle majors Volvo and Scania in the Indian luxury bus market.

Christened Magna, the front engine, twin-axle luxury AC coach will have several options at ‘an affordable price’ for the Indian luxury coach operators who always look for cost-effective solutions to strengthen their bottomline. The prototype (concept vehicle) of the bus has been showcased at the Tata Marcopolo’s manufacturing facility in Dharwad in Karnataka.

Thus far, Tata customers have been purchasing chassis from the company and getting the body built from private vehicle body builders as per their requirements. 

The Magna is the result of the growing demand in the intercity coach segment in the past five years. To start with, the company will roll out two-axle buses in the Magna series, Tata Marcopolo officials told Autocar Professional.

Currently foreign CV makers offer multi-axle rear engine buses in the luxury coach segment for long-distance travel but the cost is too high, which may not suit the budget of most Indian luxury coach operators.

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, company officials said. Its pricing will be fixed at very competitive levels compared to its competitors in the industry. The bus is expected to be manufactured under the Tata Marcopolo badge.

The Magna will be 12,000mm long, 3,800mm tall and 2,600mm wide. With a GI tubular structure, the vehicle comes with fire retardant marine plywood and 12mm anti-skid vinyl flooring. The passenger door ahead of the front axle is an inswing door and comes with a sliding window. The 44-seater bus has a luxury pushback seat layout in 2x2 seating format.

A unique feature is two mobile charging points in each row. On the safety front, the Magna’s emergency door is located on the right-hand-side rear; two windows on each side are emergency windows (which can be broken with a hammer) while there are two manual roof hatches too. In addition, the vehicle has two 5.00kg fire extinguishers.

When asked about the extra care taken to prevent fire-related accidents, he said the company is paying utmost attention towards this aspect. A high calibre testing and mounting practice has been carried out in the wiring harness section of the bus with the guidance of technicians from Marcopolo in Brazil, he revealed.

Speaking to Autocar Professional, Benedito Andre Almeida Violante, chief operating officer of Tata Marcopolo, said the company plans to put the bus into mass production in the next four months. The company has also designed a sleeper coach on the same platform, he said, and both the buses are currently  undergoing road tests.

Violante said the buses will be manufactured for the domestic market as well as for export to the Middle East market. Currently, this will be the flagship product from Tata Marcopolo in the Indian luxury bus market, he added. The Magna will have more than 95 percent of local content and will meet all mandatory safety regulations.

While the luxury coach buses will be produced at the company’s Dharwad manufacturing facility in Karnataka, the chassis will be supplied by Tata’s Pune production plant. The Magna concept bus will have minor changes as per the requirement of buyers in terms of interiors and a few other areas.

According to Violante, the buses will be built to the highest quality standard as in the buses produced by Marocopolo in Brazil.

A key highlight of the Magna series is the massive luggage space, which makes it suitable for both tours and travel applications, primarily in the inter-city travel segment.  The bus will also have a side luggage booth, rear luggage booth, reverse camera at the rear and parking assistance.

Tata Marcopolo’s Dharwad plant has a manufacturing capacity of 15,000 buses per annum with a workforce of around 3,000 workers. The company, which has been manufacturing various types of buses since 2006, has till now delivered more than 70,000 buses in India and overseas.