Middlebury, Ind.-based Arboc Specialty Vehicles has grown substantially in roughly four years. And with its latest announcement, the company that began with five men and a dream expects to grow even more.
The South Bend Tribune reported that Arboc Specialty Vehicles, now with 100 employees, recently announced it will expand its product offerings through a partnership with Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC) out of Gaffney, S.C., on the co-development of a low-floor rear engine custom chassis.
The first vehicle to utilize the new chassis will be Arboc’s new Spirit of Liberty product line. The new line is on display this week at the American Public Transportation Association show in Indianapolis.
The new bus will feature a low floor with no steps inside from front to rear with a ramp entry.
“There will be no steps over the rear axle,” said Don Roberts, president and chief executive officer for Arboc. “It’s the first time there’s ever been a true flat floor from entrance to the back of the bus.”
The company plans to build the new bus in lengths of 28, 30 and 33 feet. The bus will seat as many as 37 passengers, and there also will be space for up to six wheelchairs.
Like the Spirit of Mobility and the Spirit of Freedom, which already have resulted in the production of 1,400 units, the Spirit of Liberty features an entrance that wheelchairs can roll up, rather than utilizing a lift, as some competitors do. That feature, along with a wide door, also allows loading and unloading to take place in a timely fashion.
And like its Arboc counterparts, Roberts expects the Spirit of Liberty to be in demand nationwide and in Canada.
To read the entire story click here.
Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC) will look to expand into the growing paratransit market through an emerging partnership with ARBOC Specialty Vehicles on the co-development of a low-floor rear-engine custom chassis.
Commerical Carrier Journal reported that through the partnership, which started in fall 2012, FCCC and ARBOC Specialty Vehicles – a custom builder of paratransit vehicles for a variety of applications based in Middlebury, Ind. – are working through a close, collaborative process to develop a customized, dedicated chassis for ARBOC’s Spirit of Liberty product line.
The new product will be powered by an FCCC rear diesel pusher and feature an innovative low-floor design that will eliminate the step-up over the rear axle, and will equip the Spirit of Liberty well for its expected use in a variety of low-floor applications like assisted living facilities, hotel and rental car transport, transit agencies and others. The chassis will offer customers a GVW of up to 25,900 lbs. It features ARBOC’s spacious low-floor interior throughout the passenger area with no steps, and it includes oversized wheelchair zones.
“We’ve seen a strong anticipated demand for the Liberty since introducing it in 2012, and we are excited about the new opportunities this new Liberty concept brings through partnership with FCCC,” said Don Roberts, president and CEO of ARBOC Specialty Vehicles. “Working with FCCC helps us ensure not only that we offer the marketplace a superior, high-quality product, but also one backed by a superior dealer service and factory support infrastructure.”
“This bus will be an innovative, low-floor product built for tomorrow, today,” he added.
Detroit Diesel — a familiar brand name in the motorhome business -– surfaced again at Newmar Corp.’s April 9-11 dealer meeting in the Dallas suburbs where the engine builder’s factory personnel were on hand with a display model of the legendary power plant set up in the middle of the Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. exhibit.
The optional inclusion of a 500-hp variant of the DD13 engine on a Freightliner SLR chassis equipped with a passive tag axle in Newmar’s 2014 Essex Class A actually marks the second time in recent years that a power plant from the Detroit-based Daimler AG subsidiary has made its presence felt in the motorhome business, the first being a 500-hp DD13 available last year in Fleetwood RV Inc.’s upscale 2012 American Eagle Class A.
A standard Newmar Essex, retailing for $750,000, is assembled on a Spartan K2 chassis powered by a 500-hp. Cummins ISX 12L engine.
Detroit Diesel used to be a common brand name in Class A motorhome power plants and has remained a staple in over-the-road motorcoaches, fire trucks and heavy-duty truck markets throughout the recession.
“In prior years, we had a significant market share (in motorhomes), but then in the last probably ten or 15 years that market was somewhat overlooked where competitive product was offered,” reports Pam Esshaki, an assembly quality coordinator for Detroit Diesel. “And our goal is to bring back the Detroit product into the RV business and to get the dealerships and the public aware of the changes that we’ve made to Detroit products from the older year engines – the enhancements and the investment to durability, reliability and extended life that we’ve made on these engines.”
Esshaki, a 40-year Detroit Diesel veteran, says the DD13 was completely redesigned by 2008 to meet 2010 emission standards by the engine manufacturer, which she describes as a leader in producing compliant, fuel-efficient engines.
“Because of these new requirements, it took us back to looking at the blueprint of the product and changing everything in relationship to fuel pressures, oil capacity and extended life,” Esshaki tells RVBUSINESS.com. “And so we have designed an engine on which 97% of the parts sit above the frame so that you have easy accessibility for maintenance and service. We’ve got extended oil interval changes on the application, also extended V&I, which is equivalent to your tune up or valve lash adjustment intervals (setting gaps between the button on the rocker arm and the top of the valve) and, most importantly, the engine’s life, which in this case is 1.2 million miles.”
Doug Weatherly, senior sales manager for Detroit Diesel, says the DD13 is “top of the line” in terms of fuel efficiency.
“We have an innovative component they call ‘Virtual Technician’ that’s available only on the DD13 engine that provides the owner-operator with a very unique and safe feel while driving the coach,” said Weatherly. “If an engine light comes on in the coach, he will be notified within three minutes by our service center that the code was received by our technicians and he will be told that it’s either a ‘service now’ or ‘service later’ condition. This gives him peace of mind while he’s out in the middle of nowhere operating the vehicle.“
When the light comes on, says Weatherly, notification goes to the company’s Detroit call center where technicians analyze the fault, get a snapshot of the engine’s operating parameters and, within three minutes, determine whether or not parts are required. If they are, they identify the nearest distributor to the vehicle and let the customer know by cell phone exactly how to get there.”
He added, “The distributor also gets the e-mail with the troubleshooting guide and the parts list required so that when the customer arrives they’re prepared and ready to repair the vehicle.”
Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation (FCCC) has introduced the SL-M modular motorhome chassis, adding “design flexibility to the power and performance of its SL Series motorhome chassis line,” according to a news release.
In designing the SL-M, FCCC engineers created a versatile RV chassis with a fully customizable basement storage space. Designed and engineered with the luxury RV in mind, the SL-M end result allows builders and owners to “maximize their storage capacity and explore a wider range of interior layouts,” the company stated. The SL-M can accommodate a variety of coach lengths and floorplans, opening up new configuration possibilities for coach manufacturers and RV owners.
“We created the SL Series out of our focus on our customers’ chassis needs and commitment to always providing them chassis options engineered to meet and exceed those needs,” said FCCC President Bob Harbin. “We certainly took their insights and input into consideration in designing the SL-M. By adding a modular chassis to the SL Series line, we open up our most advanced, durable and reliable chassis to even more customization possibilities.”
Like the entire SL Series, the SL-M offers the 13-liter, 500-hp DD13 engine from Detroit, which combines the power of 1,650 ft-lb of torque with an Amplified Common Rail System (ACRS) to optimize each injection event and improve fuel economy. The DD13’s BlueTec SCR emissions technology is proven to meet long-term EPA 2010 emissions requirements by dramatically reducing nitrous oxide (NOx), particulate matter and fine particle emissions, while helping maximize fuel efficiency.
The DD13 also includes Virtual Technician, which integrates GPS technology with engine diagnostics. If the “check engine” light comes on in the RV, the data is sent to the Detroit customer support center. The information is then provided to the customer, along with a choice of authorized service outlets and the opportunity to schedule a repair. Virtual Technician also lets the service outlet know which parts are needed, shortening the overall service time.
The FCCC SL Series offers a standard ZF independent front suspension handling a Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) of 14,600, 16,000, 18,000 and 20,000 pounds.
Newmar Corp. held its 2011 Vendor Appreciation Dinner Thursday night (Oct. 18) at Das Dutchman Essenhaus in Middlebury, Ind., in an unusual family-style dinner at which the Nappanee, Ind.-based motorhome builder took the time to recognize vendors from throughout the country who excel at the fine points of servicing Newmar as an original equipment manufacturer.
It’s something that Newmar, a family-held company, has done for 18 years — with the exception of a couple of years during the recession – hosting a dinner for the top-rated suppliers and presenting awards to a number of them.
“We do a bi-annual evaluation of about 150 vendors,” explains Mike O’Connell, vice president of purchasing for Newmar. “Through that process, we end up with scores, everything from ‘excellent’ to ‘unacceptable,’ and the people that we invite to this Vendor Appreciation dinner received excellent scores.”
Of the 44 suppliers and 140 diners in attendance at this year’s dinner, the top award, the “Virgil Miller Award of Excellence,” went to Industrial Finishes, an Elkhart, Ind.-based exterior paint supplier. On hand to accept the award were President Glenn Duckworth, Eastern Region RV Manager Rich Dotson and Mike Pratt, who’s in charge of business development.
Also honored were Almega Tru-Flex Inc. (Wire Harnesses), Alro Steel Corp. (Structural Steel), Fantastic Vent division of Atwood Mobile Products (Ceiling Vents), Fabritech (Bed Spreads), Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (Chassis), Quality Hardwood Sales (Hardwood Stiles), S & H Metal Products (Galvanized Metal Boxes), Equipment Service/Stressco (Slideout Components), Postle Aluminum Co. (Aluminum Extrusions) and Winegard Co. (Satellite Dishes & Antennas).
Additional awards bestowed at the event included Salesman of the Year: Jim Cramer, Global Link; Inside Sales: Amanda Girten, Positron Corp. and Judy Hafel, Flexsteel Industries Inc.; Truck Driver of the Year: Ross Minanik, YRC, and the Innovation Award, which went to Equipment Service/Stressco.
In looking down the road in his dinner remarks, Newmar President Matt Miller said Newmar has put in place a succession plan that will keep the company in the family of his father, founder Mahlon Miller, for the next generation. And he said the company has been making headway as well in terms of product innovation, despite the limitations of the recent recession.
“We believe the future of our company is very bright,” said Miller. “We have taken the opportunity during the downturn to prepare ourselves for a lot of innovation, which we’ll be introducing in the next 12 to 18 months, and we’re not slowing down on that at all.”
“We have fewer dealers than we did before the downturn, but we have higher quality dealers, and we have initiatives underway to recruit more dealerships. We have fewer brands than we’ve had, but we’re more focused on the brands that we do have. And we feel good about where we’re at right now.”
If Newmar was coming out of “survival” mode at last year’s supplier dinner, added John Sammut, vice president of sales, the company this year “is getting back on the offensive in its approach to selling and marketing its products throughout the U.S. and Canada.”
In fact, Sammut said the last five weeks beginning with the week before the Elkhart’s 5th Annual RV Open House Week through mid-October were “the best five weeks of order writing at Newmar in four years.” For this and other strategic reasons, Sammut said, Newmar is accelerating production schedules to four units a day for the balance of 2012 and for some time into 2013.
Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC) has named Anthony Sippel its director of sales and marketing. He will oversee FCCC product planning, sales programs, marketing communications and RV dealer relations.
According to a press release, Sippel joined FCCC in 1996 as a senior design engineer in chassis engineering and was appointed senior technical sales manager in 2002, working closely with FCCC’s RV original equipment manufacturers. Since 2005, he has served as FCCC’s RV and commercial bus product manager.
Sippel earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering technology at Purdue University.
Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC) announced it has delivered two of its all-electric MT E-CELL walk-in vans to UPS. According to a press release, Georgia-based UPS will deploy the zero-fuel-usage, zero-emissions vehicles in its fleet serving Laguna Hills, Calif.
“As an early developer of all-electric vehicle chassis technology, FCCC remains committed to engineering products that help companies meet their environmental goals,” said Mike Stark, senior technical sales manager, national accounts, for Gaffney, S.C.-based FCCC. “UPS’s addition of the MT E-CELL to its fleet is a powerful validation of both the technology and this vehicle’s reliability and durability in the most demanding real-world applications.”
Built on FCCC’s popular MT-45 chassis, the MT E-CELL combines advances in body and drivetrain technology with the productivity advantages of a traditional walk-in van.
“After promising results with the prototype all-electric vehicle, we are looking forward to getting similar production with these vehicles making real deliveries to our customers every day,” said Mike Britt, UPS’s director of maintenance and engineering international operations ground fleet. “Continuing to invest in fuel-efficient technology is a part of our overall environmental strategy.”
An all-electric single speed drive motor, powered by lithium-ion batteries offering 55.5 kilowatt hours of usable energy, provides the MT E-CELL with a driving range of up to 90 miles per charge. The system recharges through a standard 30 amp, 220 volt outlet and requires just six to eight hours to fully recharge from a completely discharged state.
Enova Systems Inc., a leading developer of proprietary hybrid electric and all-electric drive systems and drive system components, announced that one of the first pre-production vehicles resulting from Enova’s and Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp’s (FCCC) recently announced ‘Green for Free’ initiative will be on display at the Portland International Auto Show Jan. 26-29th.
According to a press release, the Portland International Auto Show estimates that around 150,000 attendees will have the opportunity to view the latest green, alternative fuel and electric vehicle concepts at the Auto Show’s Eco Center.
The ‘Green for Free’ program is designed to allow fleet executives to operate full 100% electric commercial vehicles for similar life cycle costs as those of diesel-powered commercial vehicles. The release states that it’s the first program engineered to eliminate the overall incremental costs associated with buying and operating an all-electric vehicle, making the program attractive to fleets that are both large and small.
FCCC and Enova plan to gradually deploy a total of 3,000 alternative-fuel vehicles beginning in the second half of 2012 as a result of the initiative.
Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., a division of Portland, Ore.-based Daimler Trucks North America, hopes to move into mass production this fall of an all-electric delivery van called the E-cell.
According to a report by the Portland Tribune, the company is still experimenting with its first handful of the step vans, but anticipates selling 3,000 E-cells in the next 30 months, says Ron Anders, technical sales manager of the custom chassis operation, based in Gaffney, S.C.
Many delivery trucks operated by the likes of Fed Ex and UPS are only driven 40 miles a day on predictable routes, Anders says. Freightliner may make two versions for that niche, one that lasts 50 miles in one charge and another with twice that range. The expectation is that the trucks will be recharged overnight.
The delivery trucks will be 12 to 14 feet long. They will be manufactured in South Carolina, not Portland.
“The main hindrance of people adopting this technology is really the acquisition price,” says Jonathan Randall, marketing and sales director for Freightliner Custom Chassis.
Though the company isn’t talking openly about its price points for the E-cell, Randall says it might cost an additional 70% to 80% more than a comparable standard diesel that sells for $50,000 to $60,000.
To encourage purchases, the company is offering a new Green for Free financing package. Buyers would pay about the same cash price as they do for a traditional step van, then get a loan for the incremental price for the electric version. Loans would be repaid via savings in fuel costs and maintenance.
Freightliner expects that E-cell buyers will recoup the extra costs in three to five years, due to lower operating costs, Randall says. “They’ll keep these trucks 10, 12 years.”
Motorhome builder Fleetwood RV Inc. unveiled a front-diesel chassis option for its 2012 Bounder Classic Class A motorhome during this week’s 49th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.
According to a press release, the platform represents a collaboration between Fleetwood RV and Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC). Fleetwood said the new, front-engine diesel adds increased power and contributes to better fuel efficiency, featuring a Cummins ISB 6.7L engine, full air suspension and air brakes.
“One of the most exciting features of the new Bounder Classic diesel is that it has air brakes and air-ride,” said John Draheim, president and CEO of Decatur, Ind.-based Fleetwood RV. “It offers a premium ride and drive, which is something our customers have been asking for.”
The diesel chassis on the Bounder Classic also eliminates the “dog-house” – a hump between the driver and passenger seats. The flat floor in the cockpit allows both the driver and the passenger to have improved access to the cockpit area. It also creates additional legroom when the chairs are swiveled to be part of the living area.
Consumer research in this product category has shown potential buyers have concerns about increased noise and heat in front-engine diesel applications, which Fleetwood said has been addressed in the new Bounder Classic. The coach features a newly engineered cockpit sub-floor and engine compartment with premium thermo-acoustic liners and insulation. The result is a driver’s cabin that is quieter and has less noise intrusion than comparable gas powered coaches at cruising-speeds.
“Once again, Fleetwood RV and Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. have teamed up to provide our family of customers a product platform and features they’ve been asking for at a price they can afford,” said Draheim.
For more information on all Fleetwood RV products, call 1-800-322-8216 or visit www.fleetwoodrv.com.