SWEDISH heavy transport manufacturer Scania has made its first foray into the Philippine market for buses with the formal launch of its Scania Marcopolo luxury cruiser at the Transport and Logistics Expo 2016 on Thursday, August 18, at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.
Vice-president Leilani Lim-Tan of local Scania dealer BJ Mercantile Inc. was joined by Transportation Undersecretary Garry de Guzman, representatives of Scania and Marcopolo, and other dignitaries in unveiling the new bus, which was the highlight of the Expo’s opening ceremonies.
The Scania Marcopolo represents a bit of diversification for BJ Mercantile, which took on the Scania brand here in the Philippines in February 2015. According to Tan, the company has found success marketing Scania’s truck line, and is on track to surpass to its 2016 target of 125 truck units sold to mark the 125th anniversary of the Scania company.
“Obviously the market for buses here in the Philippines is very attractive, and one thing about this vehicle that appealed to us is that the Scania chassis shares about 90 percent of its parts with the trucks. That means we can very easily quickly provide any service our customers need,” Tan said.
Body made in Brazil
Another feature of the bus is that it is a complete package. Unlike other buses for which the customer must purchase a chassis and body separately, the two-section Scania chassis and monocoque Marcopolo body, manufactured in Brazil, were designed in close coordination, making final assembly exceedingly easy. The body, which is constructed primarily of galvanized steel, includes such thoughtful touches as having tube structures and other voids filled with foam, to provide an extra measure of stiffness and sound insulation for passenger comfort.
Other standard safety and comfort features include full air suspension for the 4×2 twin-axle running gear, traction control, an electronic braking system and a full-digital instrument cluster that allows the driver to even call up bodywork information.
The 12.5-meter long bus is intended for long-distance travel, such as provincial routes, and the comfortable cabin as presented is configured for 49 passengers in a two-by-two seating arrangement that offers an extraordinary amount of legroom. Because of the absence of a full-length frame, thanks to the monocoque body design, the Marcopolo offers a cavernous cargo bay, which also provides easy maintenance access to bus systems.
At the business end, the Scania Marcopolo is powered by a 13-liter, inline six-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine producing 360 horsepower; the Euro 4-spec version (Scania already offers engines in Euro 5 and 6 versions as well) develops 1,850 Newton-meters of torque at 1,000-1,350 rpm for exceptional low-end pulling power and good performance in city traffic.
To enhance driveability, the minimalist cockpit features pendant-style pedals to reduce fatigue, and, as Scania’s Southeast Asia Pre-sales Director Tom Kuiphuis pointed out, there are only two of them: The bus is equipped with Scania’s fully-automated Opticruise transmission (available in eight- and 12-speed versions), which is unique in not having a power-scavenging torque convertor.
List price for the Scania Marcopolo is P9.5 million.
After achieving promising results with Scania truck sales in a relatively short period of time, Tan said, “We hope that our line of buses will be as well-received by the local market. Everything about the Scania Marcopolo is designed to make ordering, owning and running it as easy as possible, with minimum lead-time and maximum uptime.”
Tan said that while the vehicle is intended more for provincial service, BJ Mercantile is exploring plans to introduce other Scania bus models suitable for commuter and even bus rapid transit service in the near future.