Marcopolo looks to the future

Marcopolo South Africa recently launched its new-generation Torino, Andare and Paradiso buses and coaches – as well as a project that is a first for Marcopolo anywhere in the world… GAVIN MYERS finds out more.

Judging by the number of guests at the launch – there were about 500, most of which were operators, while many were from other African countries – Marcopolo has grown in leaps and bounds in the 23 years it has been present on the continent.

During that time, more than 5 500 buses have been built in South Africa and supplied to right-hand-drive African markets. The left-hand-drive markets of Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya are supported from here as well.

Judging by the reactions of those operators when the new Torino commuter, Andare FL semi-lux and Paradiso G7 FL coach were revealed, there’s a lot of love for Marcopolo products on this continent…

Key features of the new Torino and Andare FL (both of which are built locally) include striking new front and rear domes with new head- and tail lights; new bonnets and dashes; new material colours; and on the Torino new parcel shelves and aluminium side panels. The Paradiso G7 FL continues to be imported from Brazil before being mounted onto local chassis.

Changes to this new-generation coach are substantial and include the likes of new LED headlights, a new stainless-steel front grille, new front and rear bumpers, a new stainless-steel finish on the sides and new external mirrors. Inside, new stairway lights and material finishes combine with a new seat design to create a modern, upmarket ambiance.

“Over the years, we have localised and designed these models for Africa, with specific structural elements to cope with the conditions in these markets,” comments Mikel Ecenarro, general manager of Marcopolo South Africa.

“We believe these new vehicles are a game changer. Operators want the latest models to give their passengers the best experience; the novelties we bring to the market are always welcome. We believe these new models will help us increase our market share,” he adds.

Ecenarro points out that Marcopolo has the goal of becoming the “preferred bus bodybuilder in Africa”. This will, however require more than just new product, which is why the company has announced it is moving from being a product developer that sells an operator an asset, to a solution provider that is a long-term partner…

With this, the company has launched the Marcopolo Services (MPS) business unit. The first of its kind in the world for Marcopolo, MPS seeks to create extra services that add value throughout the 15- to 20-year lifecycle of the bus for the operator. The main idea behind it is to leave everything to do with the vehicle’s body to Marcopolo, so operators can focus on their core business.

“An operator’s business is not to take care of buses. We want to join forces with them as a partner that will cover everything related to the vehicle’s body with the original Marcopolo stamp. We really believe that this will add value to the market; operators should focus more on running their businesses and less on worrying about their assets,” Ecenarro comments.

Should the project prove to be successful, there’s a chance it may be expanded to other global markets in which Marcopolo plays. Judging by the brand’s success in Africa, there’s little doubt it will be.

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Focus on Transport

FOCUS on Transport and Logistics is one of the oldest and most respected transport and logistics publications in southern Africa.
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