Based on surveys of the major motorcoach manufacturers who sell vehicles in the U.S. and Canada, motorcoach sales in the fourth quarter from the participating manufacturers rose by 6.5% over the prior year to a total of 3,620 units (2,407 new coaches and 1,213 pre-owned coaches), according to the American Bus Association Foundation (ABAF).

“2016 was a stellar year for motorcoach manufacturers,” said ABAF President Peter Pantuso. “Last year showed a three percent growth in new motorcoach sales and a 14.3 percent growth in pre-owned coaches. As the industry continues to grow, operators are reinvesting their profits back into the comfort for their passengers.”

The survey showed that the growth was dominated by sales to private firms in 2016. Overall, new coach sales to companies were up by more than 195 units (10.9% increase). This was offset somewhat by a reduction in sales to public sector agencies of 125 units. In fact, after a flat year in 2014, sales to private firms have risen steadily suggesting that investors are bullish on the sector, and that firms are working to both upgrade equipment and open up new opportunities.

Looking deeper, there has been a marked increase in the private sector sales of new small (30 to under-40 foot) coaches compared to years past. In 2015, 184 vehicles were sold. Small coach sales in 2016 increased 44.6% to 266 vehicles. At the same time, sales of the largest coaches (those over 45 feet in length) stayed about the same.

“The increase in sales of smaller vehicles point to a shift that the motorcoach tourism industry has experienced over the past few years, as tours have become more specialized, catering to smaller groups, and more diverse agendas,” said Pantuso.