MCI Developing a 35-Foot Coach and Electric Coaches

Jan. 18, 2017
Motor Coach Industries (MCI) heads into 2017 and the industry trade show season after a successful 2016.

Motor Coach Industries (MCI) heads into 2017 and the industry trade show season after a successful 2016.

"This past year was tremendous not only for MCI, but primarily for our growing customer base," said Patrick Scully, MCI executive vice president of sales and marketing. "We owe our accomplishments to the trust our customers place in us, our sales teams and our parent New Flyer. The investments in our people and facilities that we made in 2016 will continue to pay dividends with the highest quality, most reliable coaches with the lowest total cost of operation."

"As we move into 2017, investments in our products continue as we are in the early stages of developing both a 35-foot coach and fully electric coaches based on the industry's best-selling MCI J4500 model."

The announcements come as MCI marks one of its most newsworthy appearances at ABA's Annual Meeting & Marketplace, January 14 ‒ January 17 in Cleveland and UMA Expo, February 26 ‒ March 2 in St. Louis.

Attendees will see why the flagship MCI J4500 remains the industry's best-selling tour coach and how the latest improvements to the Setra S 417 make it the undisputed luxury segment leader.

J4500 improvements

This year MCI unveils the latest generation of EPA 2017 Cummins ISX12 and Detroit DD13 engines available on all new J4500 motor coaches. Both engines benefit from faster, 500-baud communication and adopt the new "Nexiq" interface tool to replace the existing Dearborn interface adapter. "Plus, each supplier now offers its own proprietary real-time remote diagnostic system with telematics, making trouble shooting easier for drivers or technicians when an issue occurs," said Brent Maitland, vice president of Marketing and Product Planning. "MCI's technical call center is also linking to these systems to improve our responsiveness to customer issues."

"Our focus on advanced driver assistance technology is aimed at reducing incidents and lowering operational costs," said Maitland. The optional Bendix Wingman Advanced (which combines adaptive cruise control with collision mitigation technology) available on the MCI J4500 is worth the investment when "even one incident is avoided," said Maitland. Another option includes a 360-degree camera system that improves driver's visibility especially in low-speed maneuvering. LED drip-rail-mounted lights provide improved curbside and roadside illumination when drivers are loading and unloading baggage or fueling the coach.

With its independent front suspension, the J4500 offers exceptional maneuverability, with a tight turning radius that stands at 41 feet, 9 inches with the standard passive rear tag —tight enough to maneuver more easily on congested city streets and parking lots.

Passenger comfort is enhanced with new luxury upholstered Amaya GT seats that have a thinner back for more per-passenger cabin space. Sleek Kiel seats are available as an option, along with an enhanced REI entertainment system for premium sound and HDMI tour guide connectivity. Optional 110-volt power outlets and Wi-Fi systems from SinglePoint or Saucon are also available from MCI. Drivers will continue to appreciate the improved ventilation, fan controls and additional legroom in the driver cockpit.

Important technical changes include a new Parker-Vansco multiplexing system, improved cooling fan, drive system, and a maintenance-friendly sight glass for the fan miter box. The model also includes best-in-class, 16,000-lb. payload capacity, a new 150-amp Denso alternator, and easier-to-access electrical components. An upgraded ProHeat X45 auxiliary heater has improved serviceability and diagnostics features as well as USB connectivity.

For operators who run their J4500s on gravelly road conditions, a Severe Duty package option offers improved engine filtration, protective engine under-pans, and triple mud flaps designed to deflect debris. A dedicated cabin filtration system and pressurized baggage compartments helps keep dust out of the coach.

Above all, value-minded buyers will appreciate MCI's low Total Cost of Operation (TCO) — a measurement that approximates residual value plus projected costs such as fuel usage against competitor models. MCI publishes its data, and the most recent comparison figures are online at It will also be available to attendees on the show floor.

A more luxurious Setra S 417

A redesigned front fascia and improved rear styling make the model a stunner for 2017. Other interior upgrades include Harmonia rosewood flooring and Makassar wood rear lavatory walls. MCI's distribution agreement with Daimler has been extended. Additionally, the Setra S 407 Comfort Class arrives with significantly more curb appeal featuring exterior and interior finishes similar to the Setra S 417 and at a superior value.

And with its move into electric coach development, plus the development on a 35-foot coach, MCI expands future product offerings, backed by the parts, service and training support operators expect from MCI and its New Flyer parent — North America's largest transit and electric bus builder.

The electric MCI coach

"New Flyer has been in the fully electric bus market for more than a decade, and has an incredible knowledge base that we can build on," said Scully. "Our customers in the public and private sectors have been inquiring about our plans, and we're confirming that an electric coach is under development." The technology will apply to both private and public commuter shuttle, and will be especially suitable for MCI's San Francisco Bay area operators and others wanting the benefits of electric power. "We're grateful to have New Flyer's leadership, commitment and electric expertise to quickly move the development along."

MCI is also the industry pioneer in CNG and diesel-electric hybrid, offering the MCI D-Series coach in those configurations.

The 35-foot MCI J-coach

At the same time, MCI is in early development stages of a 35-foot J-coach in response to customers' request for a smaller coach that offers the reliability and parts commonality of the popular MCI J4500. "We want to be able to offer a product option to customers that need a smaller coach and are looking for product and brand commonality with MCI," said Scully. "Currently we are moving from planning to the design phase and will keep the market updated on our progress."

Parts, service and support

MCI has also announced its plans to open a new Service Center in the San Francisco Bay area. Site selection is underway with additional information expected in the next few months.

Visitors to MCI's booth will also get to test the new MCI online PartsStore. A series of online enhancements for a better customer service experience include superior inventory searches, on-point suggestions and sharp photos of each individual part. The site also features expedited shipping options and estimates and improved automated order tracking from a desktop, tablet or smartphone.

Leadership drives it home

In a new year letter to customers, Paul Soubry, president and CEO of New Flyer, explained how the recently announced promotions of Ian Smart to President of MCI and Brian Dewsnup to president of aftermarket parts, "builds on MCI's strengths from within."

Smart's responsibilities include all functions impacting customers, from coach design, engineering, production, parts supply, sales and marketing and service support. MCI Service Centers, warranty, field service and technical support, areas previously managed by Aftermarket, will now be rolled into the factory to promote even more responsiveness and fast access to technical expertise. This structure has been very successful at New Flyer, and is designed to focus the MCI OEM team on the support and reliability offered to customers.

Three key OEM MCI directors are broadening their roles, becoming vice presidents with this change. Mark Renton becomes vice president of manufacturing and facilities, succeeding Bryan Couch, who retired in December 2016 after a nearly 30-year career with MCI. JP Pelletier was named vice president of engineering, and Jim Macdonald was named vice president of quality and customer service. These three join the MCI executive leadership team that also includes Patrick Scully, responsible for MCI's overall sales and marketing efforts. Scully's direct reports continue to be Patricia Ziska, vice president of new coach sales; Tom Wagner, vice president of public sector sales; Mitch Guralnick, vice president of pre-owned coach sales; and Brent Maitland, vice president of marketing and product planning.

Attendees at the ABA and UMA meetings will have the opportunity to meet MCI's team members while enjoying the many activities MCI is planning in its booth. It's an opportunity to take a close look at all the coach models and a chance to get better acquainted with the people behind MCI Reliability.