The Caio G3400 is on the road
Caio North America, LLC, headed by Mark Middleton, is based in McDonough, GA, and distributes the 35-foot G3400 and 45-foot G3600 commercial buses, develops the North American market and initiates a parts and service network.
“Caio North America is well on its way to its goal of strategically introducing a series of high-quality, price-competitive, commercial buses through a network of highly respected tier one North American bus dealers,” says Middleton. “They will provide the North American market with a full line of affordable high quality transportation solutions supported by a reliable parts and service network.”
Middleton says relationships with companies such as Freightliner Custom Chassis, Mercedes Benz Chassis, Carrier Corp, Recaro and REI have made the transition into North America essentially seamless.
Caio produces the G3400 and 3600 monocoque constructed coaches from its factory in Botucatu, Brazil. The manufacturer utilizes modular driveline systems by Freightliner Custom Chassis, air conditioning systems by Carrier Transicold and audio/video from REI, as well as other U.S.-based suppliers that give its coaches over 65 percent North American content.
Founded in 1946 and now headquartered in São Paulo, Brazil, Caio, an ISO 9001-2000 registered, full line bus body manufacturer, enjoys growth from a tradition of bus building that extends over 61 years. The Ruas Group acquired Caio in 2001 to form Caio Induscar.
Caio Induscar has since expanded its international markets and grown export sales and production from 74 units in 2001 to over 2,100 units in 2009. The company stakes its claim as the largest single producer of commercial buses in the western hemisphere.
Mike Mackey, owner of Small World Tours and Cruises, Orlando, FL, operates a fleet of 17 luxuriously-outfitted Prevost H3-45s to serve the charter tour, cruise and general transportation industries. The 25-year-old company began in Jacksonville as a Gray Line affiliate and launched its central Florida operation in 1986. Since then, the Florida Motor Coach Association has twice named Small World its Motor Coach Company of the Year for 2007 and 2009.
Mackey says because such a large portion of his business is with college athletics departments, he appreciates the recent emergence of the shorter-length motorcoaches to carry smaller groups in a comparative level of comfort.
“Other than football teams and the occasional large baseball squadron, a vehicle smaller than a 45-foot motorcoach can accommodate most college sports groups,” says Mackey. “A 56-passenger coach is actually cost prohibitive for athletic departments, but as impractical as it is, they still have to pay unless they have another option.”
For these reasons, Mackey has ordered a Caio Model G3400. Mackey accepted a demo model earlier this year from First Class Coach Sales, Orlando, FL, to test drive for one week. He says it proved particularly interesting to measure the Caio against his fleet of full-size Prevosts and compare the shorter coach to the cutaway bus he was using for groups of 30 or less.
“I was first struck by the spacious interior with full-size coach seats,” says Mackey. “Our big college athletes can ride much more comfortably in these reclining seats with footrests.”
Mackey says he drove the Caio for one day and then put the 35-foot coach in the hands of one of his top senior drivers, Bill Mobley, to test on a five-day tour to the Florida Keys. The Keys provided a perfect setting to test the maneuverability of the Caio G3400, according to Mackey. The fact that the smaller coach delivered around nine miles to the gallon did not go overlooked.
“This was a group of 28 passengers,” says Mobley, “One gentleman told me he did a double-take when I first pulled up. He said he was expecting one of our other coaches but could still tell this Caio was every bit a motorcoach, just not as big. He and the rest of the group were pleasantly surprised.”
Mobley says he quickly discovered the shorter length allowed the Caio to maneuver easier than a full-size coach in the narrow streets.
“This coach handles beautifully in tight spaces, which is usually the case in the Keys,” says Mobley. “I was never in a situation where I had to back up to readjust my turn.”
Mackey says he believes with the tight turning ratio, any driver would feel at ease driving this small coach, noting it is not necessary to pull left to make a right turn.
First Class Coach Sales is the bus dealer for the southeastern region that includes FL, AL, GA, LA, MS and southern TN. Other dealers include Bus West on the West coast, Arcola Bus Sales in the North East and Colonial Equipment Sales covers the Atlantic region and the Carolinas.
“We have been working with Caio for over four years to represent its coaches in the North American market,” says First Class sales manager, Steve Richardson. “We visited the Caio headquarters in South America and came away very impressed with the facilities, which makes us believe the Caio Coach will be a valuable asset to many tour and charter companies and coach operators throughout the country.”
Richardson says the 45-foot Caio G3600 is now available for demo. The full-size coach features the Cummins 450 engine and Allison 60 transmission, ZF axles, Bendix brakes, Carrier A/C and an REI video system. He says seven G3600 units have sold and deliveries begin this month. BR