IRIZAR HAS COME TO AMERICA
IRIZAR HAS COME TO AMERICA
INA Bus Sales is the exclusive distributor and support for the Spanish bus builder’s i6 and i6 Super Cargo
The eminent Spanish bus builder Irizar is now in business in the United States and Canada, having unveiled its two i6 coach models refashioned expressly for North American operators during ABA Marketplace and UMA Motorcoach EXPO. From its headquarters in Ormaiztegi, Gipuzkoa, Spain, the Irizar Group continues to build since its founding in 1889. As of January, the global range of the 127-year old company now reaches to six continents and includes coach and bus production plants in Spain, Morocco, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa.
By David Hubbard
“Our arrival in the United States marks a significant milestone in our history,” says Irizar USA Director Axier Etxezarreta. “We have always been intent on positioning Irizar as a premium brand in North America, and our commitment to the United States coach market is higher than it’s ever been. We are approaching this initiative with a long-term view and greater vision than any new project previously.”
Etxezarreta says Irizar employees from senior executives to the techs on the production line have been intensely engaged in this project. So much, he says, that Irizar management provided an opportunity for employees directly involved to take English language lessons so that they may engage more effectively with North American customers who visit the factory in Spain.
INA Bus Sales’ Marty Barrett, executive vice president, National Sales, knows personally what Etxezarreta is talking about. In his former career as an MLB American Leaguer, Barrett held down second base for the Boston Red Sox (1982–1990) and San Diego Padres (1991).
“During my visit to Spain to meet with the Irizar aftersales team, I recognized a definite correlation between this company and my lifetime involvement with championship teams,” Barrett says. “There is always talk about a special team chemistry that all the players share. For the team that has what it takes to go the distance and always plays to win, this chemistry is essential. When I visited the Irizar factory, I couldn’t help but realize that same level of intensity and incredible morale the employees harbored. Toward the end of the day, they were actually singing together. Now that’s team chemistry.”
Irizar is manufacturing the two versions of the 45-foot i6 for North America from its facility in Spain. Both of integral monocoque construction, one at a height of 12.23 feet; while the Super-Cargo stands 12.89 feet and, as the name suggests, features considerably larger luggage bays and offers approximately 620 cubic feet of storage capacity. Widened to 102 inches from the European standard 96 inches, Irizar says the i6 meets all Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) compliance specifications.
Etxezarreta says prior to the sneak preview at ABA Marketplace in Louisville, KY, and the official launch at UMA Motorcoach EXPO in Atlanta, GA, in January, the Irizar Group devoted four years to research and development, engineering and design of the North American i6 models.
“This is in no way a prototype coach built from the ground up,” says Michael Haggerty, founder and chairman, INA Bus Sales, LLC, Las Vegas, NV, as well as CH Bus Sales, Faribault, MN. “Currently more than 3,000 Irizar i6 motorcoaches are operating in Europe. In this case, Irizar thoughtfully and methodically adapted the basic i6 concept and design to meet U.S. standards and operator preferences.”
INA Bus Sales is now the exclusive distributor of Irizar coaches and aftermarket support in North America. Haggerty says the company will basically replicate the aftercare and follow-up service in much the same manner as CH Bus Sales.
“With the necessary support and aftermarket in place, INA Bus Sales demonstrates the same strong commitment to quality and excellence in representing the Irizar Group in North America,” says INA Bus Sales Chief Operations Officer Chad Dixon. “Both companies have come to the table with a long-term strategy for our partnership.”
Haggerty says INA Bus Sales collaborated closely with Irizar in the development stages long before the unveiling of this version of the i6.
“We encouraged the company early on to carefully examine the standard features on the current range of coach brands available in the U.S. and Canada,” he says. “As a result, these two North American models come equipped with many more features marked standard. These proven and reliable systems and components are familiar to all North American operators.”
Specifically, the list of standard features includes a lane departure warning system, acceleration skid control, side shades, Alcoa aluminum wheels and Amaya Torino seats with foot rests, as well as a Cummins ISX engine, Allison B500 transmission and ZF axles.
The stainless steel monocoque frame Irizar i6 is an appealing and versatile high-end coach for commuter services and tours, drawing visual impact and curb appeal from its sleek, clean aerodynamic exterior design.
The i6 Irizar coaches present a distinguished European curb appeal that defines the brand characterized by a striking exterior profile, clean side paneling and a deep and lustrous paint quality.
“The exterior design certainly sets Irizar apart, but there is more to it than good looks,” Etxezarreta says. “The aerodynamic design also figures prominently in the promising fuel usage metrics.”
Though the i6 has little road time as yet, early reports put the fuel mileage at approximately 7.5 mpg.
The interior of the Irizar i6 is as unique and elegant as the exterior design. An ergonomic driver cockpit features integrated dashboard screens and a Bosch audio and video system. A curved entryway leads to an LED lighted aisle and ceiling.
The i6 for North America meets European roll-over testing. Irizar says prior to the launch of any new coach, it conducts rigorous independent third-party testing on a test track to simulate approximately 7 million miles. Additional testing of the structure considers resistance to frontal collision and roll-overs, and, according to the company, is compliant with the R66.01 safety regulation.
“Our focus is safety and reliability, comfort and profitability,” Etxezarreta says. “To ensure those four pillars before we launch a new coach, we want to know the suspension is strong and the ride is smooth. We’ll incorporate any available product, system or resource to fulfill our goals for these four areas.”
He says the more refined electronic suspension provides greater stability through improved load and weight distribution.
Irizar Chief Operating Officer José Manuel Orcasitas and members of the executive team were on hand at the UMA Motorcoach EXPO for the official launch of the new coaches, which included the much anticipated unveiling of the i6 Super Cargo model. Orcasitas spoke to Irizar’s deep and abiding commitment throughout the entire organization for its new customers in the North American market.
“We look forward to our partnership with Irizar, and sharing in the genuine pride and enthusiasm this talented and experienced group brings to the brand,” Dixon says. “The Irizar i6 is state of the art, and one we see as a real differentiator. As North American coach operators experience the i6 and learn more about the value proposition Irizar and INA Bus Sales offers, I am confident our partnership will reflect the success Irizar has experienced in other countries.”