ABC Companies (ABC) brought together operators, vendors and industry experts for a three-day event centering on the company's unveiling of the new Caterpillar engine- equipped Van Hool coach. In addition to the unveiling, other featured events at ABC's Fast Track Weekend at its Orlando, Fla., facility included vendor presentations, panel discussions, facility tours and test-drives of the featured CAT-upgraded coach.
The unveiling capped off an agreement between ABC, Van Hool, General Coach America and Caterpillar Inc. that will equip upcoming production orders with CAT's fully compliant C13 and C7 engines. The new CAT engines, designed to meet 2004 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emissions standards, feature ACERT¨ technology used in Caterpillar's entire diesel product line.
"Our CAT partnership is a true collaboration of technology and design," said Ron Cornell, ABC president and CEO. "By offering next-generation solutions like the Caterpillar C13 and C7 engines, we demonstrate our ongoing commitment to supporting all operational aspects of the businesses we serve." Cornell also announced the purchase of 31 Van Hool motorcoaches featuring CAT engines and ZF transmissions by Orlando's Mears Transportation.
Caterpillar's Chuck Avery, on-highway engine department manager, spoke about the benefits of the new CAT engine technology. "We've spent over $500 million for the development of ACERT technology," he said. "The engine has a 1 million-mile life cycle." Avery also touted the benefits of ACERT over exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) engines. "Unlike EGR, ACERT technology does not reuse exhaust, which degenerates the life of the engine. Fuel economy is 3% to 5% better and oil change intervals are twice as long compared to EGR," he said.
The CAT C13 engine, which will be featured in all new full-size Van Hool coaches, offers 380 to 430 horsepower with 1,450 to 1,650 pounds-feet of torque. It also features a higher compression ratio, greater cylinder pressure and series turbo charging to provide improved power, performance and fuel economy.
New releases of ABC's M1000 series will feature the CAT C7 engine, which is also fully compliant with the 2004 EPA standards. The C7 features Caterpillar's patented HEUI fuel system and offers 190 to 330 horsepower and 520 to 860 pounds-feet of torque.
The weekend event, which took place at ABC's Florida facility Oct. 21 to 23, featured company tours of various departments. Attendees saw the inner workings of the company's 115,000-square-foot facility, including its graphics department where coach decals are created; a 10-bus-bay collision center, which accommodates any make and model coach; painting facility; and parts department, which houses $7 million worth of inventory. The event also featured a one-day vendor conference. Participating companies included Caterpillar, Goodyear, Radio Engineering Industries Inc., ZF, Ricon and Haldex.
A pre-unveiling luncheon held under a big tent on facility grounds included prize giveaways and guest speakers. United Motorcoach Association President Victor Parra spoke on fighting for private-sector provisions in the transportation bill, and American Bus Association President Pete Pantuso commented on the newfound strength of the industry. "We need to be partners to thrive and survive as an industry," Pantuso said.
Panel discussions by industry experts on finance, insurance and technology were also featured.