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View Poll Results: Are Volvos a "Technical Success" In India?
Yes 23 54.76%
No 1 2.38%
Yes, if the regular service costs and replacements are adhered to. 16 38.10%
No, they continue to be unreliable white elephants. 2 4.76%
Voters: 42. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 8th August 2012, 16:42   #1
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Question Are Volvos a "Technical Success in India?"

Volvos, in their various avatars and configurations rule the Indian long distance passenger travel scene. Period.

They are good looking fast, super comfortable, spacious, reasonably fuel efficient and pamper passengers like no other competitor. Since passengers prefer Volvo to any other bus, operators too, are buying them by the kilo, naah, the tonne, and everything seems hunky dory.

We also know that in order for an operator to be profitable with a Volvo, the bus needs to be on the road for around 1000kms per day. A tall task, but going by the ever increasing numbers on the roads, operators too seem to be managing their financials pretty well.

So, the Volvos are a success, financially and from a consumer's/passenger's POV.

The question that this thread/poll seeks to answer is this:

From a purely technical/maintenance/upkeep aspect, have Volvos' succeeded in India?

We know that their spares are expensive, but do they last equally long enough to negate the cost?

What is the "average spare part life" for Volvo?

Is it at par with the others, including Tata, AL, Isuzu and Mercedes Benz ?
Is it higher, meaning more replacements in lesser kms?
Is it lower than the others, meaning lesser replacements over more kms?


The answers to these questions would derive the answers to the poll. Do mention the reason for the options chosen by you to enable discussions.

Looking forward to interesting knowledge sharing by all.

@MODS: In case a similar thread exists, please feel free to merge this with it.

Last edited by n.devdath : 8th August 2012 at 16:44. Reason: Spelling.
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Old 8th August 2012, 21:38   #2
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Default Re: Are Volvos a "Technical Success in India?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by n.devdath View Post
What is the "average spare part life" for Volvo?

Is it at par with the others, including Tata, AL, Isuzu and Mercedes Benz ?
Is it higher, meaning more replacements in lesser kms?
Is it lower than the others, meaning lesser replacements over more kms?
I didn't quite get this. So does higher "average spare part life" mean frequent replacements? I believe it should be the other way round - higher life means lesser replacements.

The spare parts, AFAIK, have much longer life than the Indian counterparts. Cannot comment on Isuzu/Mercedes though. I heard from one person that the maintenance cost is negligible if the bus is maintained properly (except the consumables).
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Old 9th August 2012, 01:56   #3
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Default Re: Are Volvos a "Technical Success in India?"

, But volvo in karnataka ( private fleet operators included ) suffered losses for a few consecutive years before posting profits. State driven volvos spend 20 hrs a day on road and governors limit the speed to ~110. They change boards upon arrival and route it to a different destination. FE of volvo is ~1.5 to 2. Leylands offer more. They need to fuel up once on the way to do a 600 km trip.
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Old 9th August 2012, 02:27   #4
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Default Re: Are Volvos a "Technical Success in India?"

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Originally Posted by blackbeast View Post
FE of volvo is ~1.5 to 2. Leylands offer more. They need to fuel up once on the way to do a 600 km trip.
Where did you get that figure ? I am pretty sure that the Volvos and Mercs in spite of their speed and acceleration offer better FE than the Leyland trucks that run as buses. State transport corporations with minimal maintenance are running these vovlos at maximum profit.
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Old 9th August 2012, 02:36   #5
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Default Re: Are Volvos a "Technical Success in India?"

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Originally Posted by esteem_lover View Post
Where did you get that figure ? I am pretty sure that the Volvos and Mercs in spite of their speed and acceleration offer better FE than the Leyland trucks that run as buses. State transport corporations with minimal maintenance are running these vovlos at maximum profit.
I was told by a certain driver during a stop over. Profits are more because tickets are priced higher. Commuters don't mind paying up but a decade ago, it was a different story.
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Old 9th August 2012, 10:02   #6
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Default Re: Are Volvos a "Technical Success in India?"

Average for an Ashok Leyland Viking bus (B.E.S.T) in Mumbai is expected to be 3.5kmpl. That is the target for the drivers. In the transport business fuel costs are not the major costs/nor it is the prime factor in deciding which vehicle to buy. Major cost in transport is cost of procurement (buying/leasing), mantainance, Salaries, overheads and then fuel.

As long as Volvos can make money (with a certian expected pax load), they will be bought over the creaky old Leylands and Tata buses. A big plus in Volvo's sucess is that these buses are on the road (earning money) more time than the competition and earlier Volvo used to mantain the buses for the transporters.
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Old 9th August 2012, 10:08   #7
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Default Re: Are Volvos a "Technical Success in India?"

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Originally Posted by blackbeast View Post
, . FE of volvo is ~1.5 to 2. Leylands offer more. They need to fuel up once on the way to do a 600 km trip.
I am sorry but you had to be much clearer about those figures. They are very generalised. FE of those buses depends upon model, age, route and how well it is maintained. The figures you have stated belong to the B9R. The B7R otoh gives you somewhere around three, as learnt from a ksrtc depot manager. Also, in ghat sections, FE is lower compared to that on plain roads. So route matters. So, we cant generalise the FE. In the B9R, the lower FE can be compensated by the higher number of seats.

Coming back to the technical aspects, I have seen BMTC volvos with more than two lakh km on the odo look as good as new. For example take a look at the instrument cluster. These look brand new even after all the abuse and function well. A marcopolo city bus with less than 25k on the Odo had a tachometer that was revving away to glory even though the engine was idling This showz the difference. Why I presented this example is because I have no idea what happens undee the hood. Part quality is very good, but replacements are equally expensive.

Thats the reason we see old battered volvos. Had the operator spent some bucks maintaining these beauties, then they would be looking brand new even today. Sigh!
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Old 9th August 2012, 13:07   #8
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Default Re: Are Volvos a "Technical Success in India?"

Good technical thread giving an insight into the Volvo running aspect. If the bus requires 1000Kms/day and considering 300 operational days per year, the bus will do easily 3L Kms per year. So what is the running life of the bus? 5 years? Also what is the life of the engine before overhaul?

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Old 9th August 2012, 13:14   #9
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Default Re: Are Volvos a "Technical Success in India?"

In order to answer the poll one needs to consider the yardstick to be used in order to arrive at a factual conclusion.

Secondly comparisons ought to be with similar offerings from other OEs if one were to make an objective comparison.

While a Front Engined engine bus and a volvo may have some similarities - in the number of passengers they ferry and the routes that they may ply - a technical comparison would still be an apple to oranges comparison.

And I guess FE has crept into the debate inspite of the fact that the thread starter's focus is on technical aspects related to durability & reliability.

The only comment I would make - based on my experience as a passenger on overnight trips from 1996 to 2009 - on many occasions volvos that looked pretty battered on the outside (and inside at times) provided a level of comfort that was surprising given the shabby maintenance on the part of the operator. Perhaps this is a testament of the design and engineering that has gone into these buses.
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Old 9th August 2012, 14:37   #10
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Default Re: Are Volvos a "Technical Success in India?"

I am not going to vote as I do not know how much it costs to run or maintain a Volvo or any other bus.

I can say this though and this is from a friend who is also a member here and who was considering the option of buying a Volvo truck for his factory. It never materilised though. After the salesman made his presentation on the options from Volvo, he said not to consider buying a Volvo truck unless and otherwise the truck is kept running all the time. If it is not, the premium over a Leyland or Tata makes no sense is what the chap from Volvo said. In a different way, this is also to say that their trucks are reliable as ever and you can't afford to have them idling away. Now the chap from Volvo need not have said this because he was there to sell his truck

We must also remember the cubic capacity of Volvo engines. I doubt if there are any offerings from Leyland or Tata with a engine block that is as big, refined and efficient as a Volvo.
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Old 9th August 2012, 15:36   #11
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Default Re: Are Volvos a "Technical Success in India?"

One thing for sure is that their spare parts are relatively expensive. The maintenance and service IMO involve the following atleast:
  • A Volvo bus (in KSRTC or BMTC) is washed and vaccumed once every week. One might have noticed that a three-letter day-of-week is painted on the driver's side of the dashboard in yellow. This denotes the day on which the weekly service is scheduled.
  • Next, being a public transport, seats cushions need to be washed, handles and such fragile stuff are to be replaced once in a while.

and there's a lot more which I don't have an idea on.

The KSRTC have in-house mechanics trained by Volvo itself for servicing and repairing a Volvo.

When I used to shuttle between Mysore and Bangalore every weekend (before I bought my car) I used to board the bus last (except for early mornings) and ensure that I negotiate to sit in the conductor's seat ( after paying a premium to sit in reclinable seats) (Mysore-Bangalore routes do not have a conductor!) and strike up a conversation with the driver. From what I have heard from most drivers the FE is between 1.8 and 2 for a B7R manual transmission. For the 8400 CRDi auto transmission, it is between 1.5 and 2 depending on traffic conditions. For the 9400 CRDi multi-axle buses, it between 1.2 and 1.8 is what I have heard.
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Old 9th August 2012, 17:03   #12
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Default Re: Are Volvos a "Technical Success in India?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by esteem_lover View Post
I am pretty sure that the Volvos and Mercs in spite of their speed and acceleration offer better FE than the Leyland trucks that run as buses.
Nobody uses truck chassis for buses these days. AshLey and TM have dedicated bus chassis, complete with air suspension, retarders, disc brakes with ABS, and CRDI engines just like Volvo and Merc.

Regarding FE, AshLey and TM provide ~6L engines while the B7R has a 7L engine and B9R, a 9L engine. Usually, FE goes down as the cc goes up, for the same kind of engines (read, NA, Turbo'd, CRDI, etc)

Quote:
Originally Posted by sandeepmohan View Post
We must also remember the cubic capacity of Volvo engines. I doubt if there are any offerings from Leyland or Tata with a engine block that is as big, refined and efficient as a Volvo.
Actually, there are some engines that are close to what Volvo offers. AshLey is getting ready with its Neptune series, and TM would probably roll out the higher powered Cummins ISBe engines. These engines are at present available in defence vehicles.
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Old 9th August 2012, 17:34   #13
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Default Re: Are Volvos a "Technical Success in India?"

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Originally Posted by blackbeast View Post
FE of volvo is ~1.5 to 2. Leylands offer more. They need to fuel up once on the way to do a 600 km trip.
Incorrect. The single axle manual tranny B9Rs give upto 4.2kmpl and the multi axle upto 3.7kmpl regularly. Also they have a 1400 litre fuel tank which is refilled as and when required at KSRTC depots/workshops en route.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Driving_Nomad View Post
One thing for sure is that their spare parts are relatively expensive.
Correct, but if expensive parts last that long too, we know that they are a worthwhile investment as well.
The correct FE figures have been given above.
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Old 9th August 2012, 17:58   #14
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Default Re: Are Volvos a "Technical Success in India?"

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Originally Posted by silversteed View Post
, and TM would probably roll out the higher powered Cummins ISBe engines. These engines are at present available in defence vehicles.

Isnt the ISBe already powering the Prima ?

Cummins engines are know to be durable and reliable globally and would be worthy competitors to Volvo \ Merc engines. The locally developed engines - well with professional support from Austria - would have to prove themselves over a period of time
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Old 9th August 2012, 23:42   #15
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Default Re: Are Volvos a "Technical Success in India?"

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Originally Posted by n.devdath View Post
Incorrect. Also they have a 1400 litre fuel tank which is refilled as and when required at KSRTC depots/workshops en route.
1400 litre fuel tank? Are you sure about that..? Even the largest tanks that are used in tractor trailer trucks are only 200-300 litres..

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