The company debuted J-Series coaches and the all-accessible D45 CRT LE customized for a Silicon Valley employee commuter service and more; additional role announced for Patrick Scully in service support
Motor Coach Industries (MCI), a U.S. subsidiary of NFI Group Inc., greeted 2019 with what it called the most innovative model and service lineup in its history at the United Motorcoach Association (UMA) Motorcoach EXPO in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in January. The schedule included a smaller coach, accessibility and battery-electric propulsion options. The company showcased its new 2019 J4500 and shorter J3500 coach next to its all-accessible MCI D45 CRT LE, designed for commuter rapid transit featuring its breakthrough patented low entry (LE) vestibule.
The revolutionary D45 CRT LE is designed for comfort and to speed boarding of all passengers, including those with mobility devices. It was displayed with a custom interior specifically designed for a Silicon Valley employee commuter service that has recently placed an order.
MCI executives were on hand to discuss current milestones in the company’s all-electric CHARGE series coming in 2020, with opportunities to watch the latest pilot test for the J4500e CHARGE.
Here’s a detailed look at MCI highlights at UMA Motorcoach EXPO:
Patrick Scully adds customer response role
Patrick Scully, MCI’s longtime executive vice president of sales and marketing, will add field service and service centers to his responsibilities to strengthen MCI’s sales and service bond with the customer.
“Whether it’s a coach purchase, technical call, or service center appointment, we are continuing to strengthen our customer service model throughout MCI to provide rapid response to our customers,” Scully said. “Having all customer-facing operations aligned under one group will better assist customers with faster responses and solutions as we roll out our most ambitious and innovative coach models to date.”
The MCI D45 CRT LE — just the first step in a next-generation D-Series
MCI sees its new D45 CRT LE as a game-changer for its modern styling; the patent-pending LE vestibule design and curb-level automatic ramp offer lower dwell times. In addition to a battery-electric version with orders being taken now for 2020 production, MCI is also developing new high-floor D models that fully launch the next generation D-series with demos planned for 2019.
“The D-Series is a proven commuter coach with a three-decade history, and its future is even brighter,” Scully said.
Customer feedback is critical, so MCI’s D45 CRT LE design process included initial input from individuals from leading disability advocacy groups, who endorsed the ramp system and easy access LE vestibule layout accommodating all wheelchair models and other accessibility devices. The D45 CRT LE underwent extensive passenger testing in the Bay Area and New York City with high passenger approval ratings. And during 2018, it passed Altoona reliability testing required for all new bus services for federally funded public transit systems procurement. Already, MCI has booked significant orders to be delivered in 2019.
The D45 CRT LE model at MCI’s EXPO booth showed the vehicle’s versatility with multiple audiences, including a custom order for a Silicon Valley employer that features bike racks, flat-screen monitors and onboard workspace areas — essentials for this operator’s technology-oriented employee transportation program.
The new MCI J-Series
MCI said it listens closely to its customers, and it is answering their needs with a coach to fit smaller groups.
“Some operators have said they would like a smaller coach to improve maneuverability in busy urban areas with narrow streets,” Brent Maitland, MCI vice president of marketing and product planning, said. “Charter operators said they wanted a coach for smaller groups with no loss of luxury or ride quality, and Livery providers, who are looking to differentiate, elevate and expand their offerings, said they wanted a smaller coach that featured the same passenger experience as the 45-foot MCI J4500 coach.”
Enter the J3500. Sharing all the styling, performance and maximum parts commonality with the 45-foot MCI J4500, the new MCI J3500 seats up to 44 passengers with best-in-class interior, the largest baggage and payload capacity among all 35-foot vehicles and again, top maneuverability.
“The J3500 allows our operators to explore new revenue opportunities with an easy transition into their operation with common parts, interior and driver’s area,” Maitland said. “The coach will feel very familiar to both drivers, technicians and the customers, which is a good thing.”
MCI has added even more state-of-the-art features for model year 2019 J4500. Now with industry leading interior space that allows comfortable seating for up to 60 passengers, a larger lavatory and an optional rear window that transforms the look and feel of the cabin, the 2019 J4500 takes a big technological leap forward with best-in-class Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) available with the optional next-generation Bendix Fusion, and a new swing-out cooling module with electric fans for increased fuel efficiency and maximum repair ease and speed.
Both J-Series models come with the industry’s top limited warranty of 30 months with unlimited miles, plus Super 60 expanded coverage of up to 5 years on select parts and components.
MCI All-Electric, coming in 2020
MCI’s move to all-electric will be led by two models under the CHARGE brand: the J4500e and D45 CRTe LE, then the rest of MCI’s model range with focus on public transit and employee shuttle segments. MCI executives were on hand to discuss the latest developments toward 2020 production and delivery, including latest high marks on the testing front.
Assisted by a half-century of battery-electric expertise at sister company New Flyer, the electric architecture incorporated in the MCI J4500e features a high-torque Siemens 2130 LB FT electric drive system with a planned range to meet long-distance applications, with a Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC) battery at 450 kWh with high power plug-in battery to fully charge in under three hours.
MCI will also apply its battery-electric platform to the D45 CRT LE Commuter Coach followed by the electric 35-foot MCI J, giving operators the most comprehensive choices in purpose-built, all-electric coaches.
The first all-electric coaches to roll off the line will all contain something familiar.
“The electric future at MCI will remain dedicated to building coaches with the lowest cost of operation and ease of service,” a spokesperson for MCI said. “MCI’s proven coaches combined with New Flyer’s battery-electric Xcelsior CHARGE™ expertise will pave the way for vehicle reliability, and help our customers make a smooth transition to electric.”
Fast access to parts, service and training
Now with more stock and 15 distribution centers to speed delivery, NFI Parts had representatives an EXPO booth to field questions and demonstrate the enhanced functions of partsstore.mcicoach.com, the online ordering system for MCI parts. This past year’s consolidation of MCI parts into NFI Parts centralizes all original-equipment parts sales and distribution for New Flyer and MCI products, including the NABI and Orion brands acquired by New Flyer. The division also carries parts for most other brands of coaches and buses.
“Customers are looking for unique solutions to their parts supply, and NFI Parts has demonstrated the ability to create and support those solutions,” Brian Dewsnup, NFI Parts president, said.
Specific to MCI, there are now nine regional parts representatives in the field supporting MCI coaches, with two new team members added in Canada. NFI Parts also supports technical publications and training through MCI Academy at its main distribution center in Louisville, Kentucky.
Holding the industry’s only Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) accreditation, the MCI Academy can create a career path for technicians with technical training, offering Learning Management System (LMS) 450 courses online available 24/7, along with week-long MCI training events at its National Training Center. The training and coursework offered through the program rounds out MCI’s comprehensive customer support.
MCI pre-owned delivers reliable, affordable updates to any fleet
With all the emphasis on new products, MCI has spent the last three years upgrading its pre-owned operation online and at the company’s seven North American service centers. MCI’s pre-owned team displayed a Livery-ready 2012 J4500, featuring a new-look front with LED lights and an interior upgraded with wood grain flooring and black leatherette seating.