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Old 11th September 2010, 21:04   #1
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Default An AC bus this time! AL Viking BS-III Delivered

Guys, we have already bought three non-AC buses for our travel company as mentioned here & here. Thanks a ton for all your help, good wishes & support.

Now we plan to add one more bus to the fleet & this time it would be an AC bus. We had considered the Force Traveller but we dint like it. So we decided on a full fledged AC bus itself. Seating capacity is not yet decided but it can be anything from 25-45. Also, we would be making the bus with sliding side glasses so that it can be operated both as an AC or a non-AC when needed.

So, here are my queries-

1) Firstly, how many seats? Guys from kerela would be in a better position to answer this. In AC buses, how many seats are more in demand?

2) Secondly, which chassis? Since we already have 3 AL buses, we would be happy to purchase one more AL. Tata & Eicher is a big no-no as we also have to consider resale value & resale value of any bus down south is bad, if its not AL!

So, which chassis should i consider? Stag, Viking or Lynx? if possible, with pros & cons. Is there any new chassis recently launched by AL? if yes, what are its benefits?

3) Should i go in for a seperate AC engine or will the stock engine be enough? I would prefer the AC to run on the stock engine if its feasible, as it would be more economical.

4) Seats? Are pushback seats absolutely essential in a AC bus? since it reduces the seating capacity to a great extent, we need to know how important it is to have P/B seats in an AC bus. Also, what will be the seating capacity with P/B seats in Viking, Stag and Lynx?

5) Which coach builder? Our Vikings were built by Prakash & we are kind of satisfied with them. Our Stag was built by Sisira since prakash had a long waiting period then. We want the AC bus to be high on quality as well as economical. We want the interiors to be luxurious. So which coach builder is recommended?

What about Irizar TVS mentioned here?

Our first priority would be Prakash. Any other builder better than them? If no, who is the next best option (if at all prakash is again not available)?

Last edited by raj_5004 : 11th September 2010 at 21:19.
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Old 11th September 2010, 21:23   #2
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Regarding the body I had read somewhere (maybe on the forum itself) that AL had tied up with some one or started a JV to offer complete solutions. You may want to explore this route further.

As for the seats I feel that it is more important for the seats to be ergonomically comfortable rather than offering push back designs. I find PB quite irritating when one wants to sit up but the pax in front uses the PB and ends up in your lap(almost). This is my opinion, the more frequent travellers / overnight commuters may have a different take.

How much difference would be there in buying an AL + body and buying a complete bus from Volvo, Isuzu etc.
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Old 11th September 2010, 22:06   #3
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Why not try the all new Mercedez or the Volvo? i am not aware of the business proposition and RoI.
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Old 11th September 2010, 22:32   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by khoj View Post
How much difference would be there in buying an AL + body and buying a complete bus from Volvo, Isuzu etc.
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Originally Posted by rajeev k View Post
Why not try the all new Mercedez or the Volvo? i am not aware of the business proposition and RoI.
They would cost more than double of what i would pay for a AL!
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Old 11th September 2010, 23:59   #5
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Raj, I have absolutely no idea about the bus business.
Just putting down my views on what should go and what should come in.

Pushback seats are irritating when you are the one being pushed back into.
The seats above the tyre well are the worst ever. The armrest between two seats should not be shared, it can get very awkward sometimes.
The usual window locks usually get stuck :P

Doubt this helps, but all the best bro!
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Old 12th September 2010, 00:15   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raj_5004 View Post
1) Firstly, how many seats? Guys from kerela would be in a better position to answer this. In AC buses, how many seats are more in demand?
Over the past 14 months of stay in Kerala, one thing that I noticed is that more and more wedding parties are opting for AC buses these days (atleast in my area). I live in Kodungallur, which is smack in the middle of the Gulf Rich Guruvayur-Chavakkad-Parur-Ernakulam belt. I see Coral/Collin/Ganga volvos running for marriage parties atleast once a week.

From my sightings, if you go for a full-fledged bus, it has to be a 44-45 seater, or atleast at 34 seater. There is a lot of tourist circuits operating out of EKM, and you could perhaps tie-up with one, which would kind-of provide a steady source of income as well. If you can stretch your finances, there is nothing like getting a Volvo - you can perhaps operate them on weekend trips to Velankanni - there are many operators doing that.

Else, stick to a Viking or a 12M from Leyland. I believe higher engine versions of 12M can power the AC directly as well. I somehow feel you will have to stick to Pushback seats in the AC coach - not very sure if some one would be interesting in hiring a cramped 2x3 AC bus - this is my personal opinion.
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Old 12th September 2010, 05:39   #7
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Running A/c buses on ALL 12M platform can also be considered. Both ARC & ABT have shown that you don't need the Volvos to run successfully. I suggest you look at the Irizar option as I have seen a couple of them in flesh they look quite good. If I remember TVS coaches at one point used to get better resale value because of the quality of their build so I think it should be the same with the Irizar TVS as well. My personal opinion with regard to seats is to have a push back if its an A/c coach though you might have to compromise on the number of pax.
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Old 12th September 2010, 08:04   #8
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Prakash, I've 0 experience in these, however, I'm writing down my thoughts to help you from my observation over several years.

Quote:
Originally Posted by raj_5004 View Post
1) Firstly, how many seats? Guys from kerela would be in a better position to answer this. In AC buses, how many seats are more in demand?
You know better; A/C or non A/C, more the better & obviously everyone likes to travel seated.

Quote:
Originally Posted by raj_5004 View Post
2) Secondly, which chassis?
Obviously, AL & if AL is not preferred, Eicher.

Quote:
Originally Posted by raj_5004 View Post
Is there any new chassis recently launched by AL? if yes, what are its benefits?
Well, not much idea here, but have seen most of the Vikings only.

Quote:
Originally Posted by raj_5004 View Post
3) Should i go in for a seperate AC engine or will the stock engine be enough? I would prefer the AC to run on the stock engine if its feasible, as it would be more economical.
This is little bit tricky here; as a passenger I obviously don't like to see a non A/C bus overtaking, this mean a separate engine for A/C. I've seen a few SETC buses having A/C mounted on roof like Volvo's. How about them? I still see them running as good as non A/C buses. Hope they have a separate engine for A/C, which is obviously expensive for you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by raj_5004 View Post
4) Seats? Are pushback seats absolutely essential in a AC bus?
Well it depends on which route & how many Km's are you running. I wouldn't prefer to travel in a bus plying for 300 Kms without pushback, which I don't mind a regular seat for about 100 Kms. So it depends on the route & distance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by raj_5004 View Post
5) Which coach builder?
Prakash is good, but now days I see Irizar TVS doing slightly better (may be my illusion too) then Prakash. What difference I see is, Prakash does a regular job of fit & finish & they're more of a narrow & height, but Irizar is not so, I've seen a little varieties with Irizar.

Quote:
Originally Posted by raj_5004 View Post
Our first priority would be Prakash. Any other builder better than them? If no, who is the next best option (if at all prakash is again not available)?
Never think of any non professional or small time builders; go to the best people in the industry if you need a quality outcome & most importantly they'll stand professional as experience plays a major role.
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Old 12th September 2010, 10:09   #9
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It makes better sense to use a Auxiliary engine to power the AC. Since you can keep the engine shut, when operating the bus in Non AC mode.

Also seeing you past vehicle trends, I would suggest get a viking, as your older buses, with ac attached. It would make maintainace of the vehicles easier.
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Old 12th September 2010, 12:12   #10
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Raj,

Would you consider Sleeper Busses ? Since you are in the Travel industry I have an idea. Hear me out. Take it if it sounds good to you.

Build a bus which is a 35/40 seater. Have conventional 2X2 seats and some "Berths" above them. You have a seater in the day and if you want to make intercity Travel, you have some additional Berths. I think there is a similar design in Paulo Travels but not sure.

Whatever you buy, DO NOT install a toilet. It is wiser to instruct the driver to stop at frquent intervals. I have seen Public misuse the toilet on an APSRTC Garudra from B'lore to Hyderabad. I have heard from friends that people use the toilet for Face wash, Shaves, brush teeth etc and spoil the neatness. IMHO the toilet must be used for Bio Breaks only.

If possible have Fully sealed windows like in Volvos, but do not have sliding windows, as someone may keep windows open even when the AC is running under the pretext of "Natural Air", "Scenery" etc... It will be an increase in AC running time and also a hinderance to the passenger sitting next to him.
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Old 12th September 2010, 18:28   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by binaiks View Post
Over the past 14 months of stay in Kerala, one thing that I noticed is that more and more wedding parties are opting for AC buses these days (atleast in my area). I live in Kodungallur, which is smack in the middle of the Gulf Rich Guruvayur-Chavakkad-Parur-Ernakulam belt. I see Coral/Collin/Ganga volvos running for marriage parties atleast once a week.
thanks binaiks.

Quote:
From my sightings, if you go for a full-fledged bus, it has to be a 44-45 seater, or atleast at 34 seater. There is a lot of tourist circuits operating out of EKM, and you could perhaps tie-up with one, which would kind-of provide a steady source of income as well.
I think with the AL 12M with P/B seats can have only 35 seats. am i correct?

Quote:
If you can stretch your finances, there is nothing like getting a Volvo - you can perhaps operate them on weekend trips to Velankanni - there are many operators doing that.
Volvos are good for travel companies who run their buses for inter city travel. we use our buses for contract carriages. so, i dont think someone would rent a volvo to ferry his guests!

Also, we could buy almost 3 AL Vikings with AC & air suspension for the price of one volvo!

Quote:
Else, stick to a Viking or a 12M from Leyland. I believe higher engine versions of 12M can power the AC directly as well.
What are the different engine options in the Viking?

from the website, i can see-

114 PS with 5 speed gearbox (our current buses)
132 PS with 5 speed gearbox
177 PS with 6 speed gearbox

Will the 132 PS engine be sufficient to power the AC directly? I believe the 177 PS will be too low on fuel efficiency.

Quote:
I somehow feel you will have to stick to Pushback seats in the AC coach - not very sure if some one would be interesting in hiring a cramped 2x3 AC bus - this is my personal opinion.
Very true.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pypkmsrikanth View Post
Running A/c buses on ALL 12M platform can also be considered. Both ARC & ABT have shown that you don't need the Volvos to run successfully. I suggest you look at the Irizar option as I have seen a couple of them in flesh they look quite good. If I remember TVS coaches at one point used to get better resale value because of the quality of their build so I think it should be the same with the Irizar TVS as well. My personal opinion with regard to seats is to have a push back if its an A/c coach though you might have to compromise on the number of pax.
have you travelled in a Irizar coach? I would like to know about their coaches, the finishing, the design & quality.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aargee View Post
This is little bit tricky here; as a passenger I obviously don't like to see a non A/C bus overtaking, this mean a separate engine for A/C. I've seen a few SETC buses having A/C mounted on roof like Volvo's. How about them? I still see them running as good as non A/C buses. Hope they have a separate engine for A/C, which is obviously expensive for you.
Honestly, more than the customer's preferences, we need to look at whats profitable for us too as the customer wont obviously pay a premium if the bus has a seperate engine for the AC!

Quote:
Well it depends on which route & how many Km's are you running. I wouldn't prefer to travel in a bus plying for 300 Kms without pushback, which I don't mind a regular seat for about 100 Kms. So it depends on the route & distance.
We dont use the bus for inter city travel. we hire the buses. so every trip & distance is different.

Quote:
Prakash is good, but now days I see Irizar TVS doing slightly better (may be my illusion too) then Prakash. What difference I see is, Prakash does a regular job of fit & finish & they're more of a narrow & height, but Irizar is not so, I've seen a little varieties with Irizar.
Frankly, even i am a bit tired of seeing too many prakash buses on the road & even i would like to see a fresh design.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sumitkalindi View Post
It makes better sense to use a Auxiliary engine to power the AC. Since you can keep the engine shut, when operating the bus in Non AC mode.

Also seeing you past vehicle trends, I would suggest get a viking, as your older buses, with ac attached. It would make maintainace of the vehicles easier.
but with AC, both the engines would be running. that means, higher fuel bills & more maintainence bills too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by scopriobharath View Post
Raj,

Would you consider Sleeper Busses ? Since you are in the Travel industry I have an idea. Hear me out. Take it if it sounds good to you.

Build a bus which is a 35/40 seater. Have conventional 2X2 seats and some "Berths" above them. You have a seater in the day and if you want to make intercity Travel, you have some additional Berths. I think there is a similar design in Paulo Travels but not sure.

Whatever you buy, DO NOT install a toilet. It is wiser to instruct the driver to stop at frquent intervals. I have seen Public misuse the toilet on an APSRTC Garudra from B'lore to Hyderabad. I have heard from friends that people use the toilet for Face wash, Shaves, brush teeth etc and spoil the neatness. IMHO the toilet must be used for Bio Breaks only.
as i said, ours is not a inter city service.

Quote:
If possible have Fully sealed windows like in Volvos, but do not have sliding windows, as someone may keep windows open even when the AC is running under the pretext of "Natural Air", "Scenery" etc... It will be an increase in AC running time and also a hinderance to the passenger sitting next to him.
problem with sealed windows is that the bus cannot be operated without AC then. in our place, orders for AC buses are very limited, so that means the bus will have no trips for more than half of the year then!
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Old 12th September 2010, 18:38   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raj_5004 View Post
I think with the AL 12M with P/B seats can have only 35 seats. am i correct?
A 12M can seat 44 passengers with p/b seats.

Quote:
Originally Posted by raj_5004 View Post
Volvos are good for travel companies who run their buses for inter city travel. we use our buses for contract carriages. so, i dont think someone would rent a volvo to ferry his guests!
This is the reason why I had suggested a tie-up with a tour-operator. Your buses would make good money running chartered trips to nearby destinations carrying tourists. A weekend package trip to Velankanni too would make money.

BUT, there are quite some people hiring Volvos to ferry guests to weddings - Am not joking here. Coral has around 5 Volvos, and most of them go out with wedding parties!

But, Yes! The Volvo is too costly for a contract carriage operator - unless there is some tie-ups with local tour operators.
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Old 12th September 2010, 18:46   #13
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We are new in this industry & for the moment, we have avoided any tie-ups with any other party. We dont want the put our reputation at stake because of someone else's fault.

But the main reason for not considering the volvo is the high initial price which i think, after all the taxes, goes upto 80 lakhs!

Have you seen AC Vikings (2x2) with 44 P/B seats?
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Old 12th September 2010, 18:58   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raj_5004 View Post
Honestly, more than the customer's preferences, we need to look at whats profitable for us too as the customer wont obviously pay a premium if the bus has a seperate engine for the AC!
Quote:
Originally Posted by raj_5004 View Post
but with AC, both the engines would be running. that means, higher fuel bills & more maintainence bills too.
You're right; but then you might've to consider the increase in running time due to overloaded engine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by raj_5004 View Post
We dont use the bus for inter city travel. we hire the buses. so every trip & distance is different.
I don't get the purpose still; I'm taking it that the bus will be used for functions such as marriages & not even for long hauls. Correct me if I've understood something incorrectly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by raj_5004 View Post
Frankly, even i am a bit tired of seeing too many prakash buses on the road & even i would like to see a fresh design.
Prakash is kind of OK, not that bad, but as you said, for a fresh design, may be, you want to talk to Irizar TVS. If you're not in a hurry to get the body builded, then you may want to talk to some local body buildier & make put a good amount of your efforts in addition & work with them to get the said "fresh design"

Last edited by aargee : 12th September 2010 at 19:00.
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Old 12th September 2010, 19:09   #15
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Originally Posted by raj_5004 View Post
But the main reason for not considering the volvo is the high initial price which i think, after all the taxes, goes upto 80 lakhs!
Very true.

On a side note, what is your budget for the AC bus? And, what is your expectation of the cost of a bus built on a regular 12M/Viking Chassis? (Just for trivia)

Quote:
Originally Posted by raj_5004 View Post
Have you seen AC Vikings (2x2) with 44 P/B seats?
Not sure of Vikings, but have seen 12M Leylands with 44 seats. Karnataka SRTC operates them under the "Meghadoota" brand. TNSTC/TNSETC also operates 12M buses as AC coaches with 44 seats. I believe even Andhra operates them - not sure.

Plenty of private operators operate 12M Leyland AC buses with 44 seats. Some operators like ABT/ARC have plush seating, and in process have only 38 seats.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aargee View Post
You're right; but then you might've to consider the increase in running time due to overloaded engine.
With a 177hp engine, there wouldn't be much of an increase in running time. From a friend, who recently quit the travels business, the AC would sap about 37hp. If the figures are correct, then the engine still has 140hp at its disposal - thats higher than the usual 117hp engine that powers most of the luxury buses these days.

Private operators running these buses are known to match up timings with Volvos - of course, often, with rash driving.

Last edited by binaiks : 12th September 2010 at 19:12.
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