Caio Splices Value-Driven Niche In U.S. Marketplace
In another sign of growing variety in the motorcoach market, Brazil-based Caio has steadily gained a slice of it as the builder marks 10 model years in the U.S.
One distinction for Caio is its lower price range for new 57-passenger buses at $400,000 and up. So far, it has sold about 100 of its motorcoaches to chauffeured and charter transportation operations.
“Caio market segments are charter transportation and limousine companies, colleges and universities; within the charter segment, our target customer would be someone looking to establish a stronger brand presence with a European-style vehicle at far less cost,” said Eugene Hotard, executive vice president of Atlanta-based Alliance Bus Group, the exclusive U.S. distributor for Caio.
Alliance took over the distributorship in 2012, four years after Caio officially entered the U.S. motorcoach market. Alliance sells 1,800 to 2,500 buses and vehicles under multiple brands per year to 15 ground transportation segments. It has locations in Dallas, New Orleans, Orlando, Fla., Carlstadt, N.J., Hudson, N.H., and a sales office in Jackson, Miss. Caio, founded in 1946, builds its buses at a factory in Botucatu, Brazil, about 140 miles northwest of Sao Paulo.
A network of 130 U.S. Freightliner dealerships are equipped to service Caio motorcoaches, which are built with the Freightliner power module that includes the axles, suspension system, engine, transmission, and steering. The diesel engines are DD13 with Allison B500 transmissions and ZF independent suspension and tag axles. I-Steer passive steering allows for a 53-foot turning radius that reduces tire wear.
“For the limo operator wanting to get into motorcoaches, we have a unique brand that will set them apart and offer all the features their clients are demanding, and at a lower purchase price and operating cost because of the low proprietary parts content,” Hotard says.
Alliance sells two primary Caio model lines — G Series and S Series — to the chauffeured and charter bus transportation industries. The key difference in the lines, both monocoque constructed, is based on exterior styling. Starting with the 2016 MY, stainless steel frames became optional and will be standard with the 2018 MY.
Hotard claims Caio buses come with the same standard and/or optional amenities as competitors. “We offer what we believe is a superior curb appeal styling and ride quality thanks in part to Freightliner and ZF components,” he says.
“At every use, we have a fresh water flush and a waste tank sealed off from the restroom,” Hotard says. “It does an 80% better job of containing odor than the typical port-o-let bathroom in a motorcoach.”
Besides the Freightliner module, Caio buses include A/C systems from MCC and TransAir; wheelchair lifts made by Braun; REI A/V systems; Hehr side passenger windows; Velvac mirrors; and lighting from Hella and Grote.
“We’ve analyzed the buses based on Buy America criteria, which is what public transit uses, and we meet the 60% U.S. content standard,” Hotard says. “That helps with parts availability and competitive pricing. The bus does not have a high content of proprietary parts, which means you can get most parts directly from U.S. manufacturers.”
All the U.S. made parts are sent to Brazil for integration and then Caio ships the completed buses to the Port of Galveston in Texas.
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Source: LCT Mag