March 6, 2014

Specialty vehicle buyers eyeing mini buses, limo buses, motorcoaches

Mini buses, limo buses and motorcoaches are expected to be in high demand by specialty vehicle buyers in 2014, according to a new survey by GE Capital, Commercial Distribution Finance (CDF).

CDF is a major provider of financing for manufacturers and dealers of specialty vehicles including buses, mobility vans, emergency vehicles and more.

One-third of survey respondents said the mini bus would be the most popular type of transportation for buyers in this segment in 2014, followed by the limo bus at 25% and motorcoach at 15%.

“Buses are in demand now — a trend that came through at the recent International Limousine, Charter and Tour tradeshow and again in our survey results,” said Tim Hyland, president, recreational and specialty vehicle group, at CDF.

Survey respondents were overwhelmingly upbeat about the sales outlook, with 40% expecting growth of 5% to 10%, and 35% expecting 10% to 15% growth. Twenty-one percent are expecting growth of 15% or more. No respondents expect a decline in sales.

Other reasons for optimism were product availability and affordability, while growth of smart phone “hailing” apps was cited as a business concern. In addition, there’s lingering concern about consumer demand.

“While the survey points to optimism in regard to sales and, in turn, consumer demand, consumer confidence is still a factor,” said Hyland. “The economy drives demand, and uncertainty remains in regard to the overall economic direction of the U.S.”

GE Capital’s survey was conducted Feb. 17 at the International Limo, Charter and Tour show in Las Vegas. The 52 respondents represent a variety of limo, charter and tour industry participants, including manufacturers, dealers, operators and suppliers.

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