Volume 15 | Issue 2 | Year 2012

Mexico – the country is an emerging force in the global economy.
Many still see it as a developing nation. But when it comes to transportation infrastructure, the nation is a global leader. And other countries would do well to follow its direction.

Indeed it’s a pioneer, even though its rail transportation lags, and most of its inhabitants can’t afford air travel.

But Mexico has responded well to these issues. The government developed a cost-effective – and environmentally friendly – option: a viable and robust public transportation system, and Volvo Buses Mexico, S.A. de C.V. meets the needs.

Mexico can no longer be considered anyone’s poor cousin when it comes to transport of people and product. Compare what’s going on in the United States. One person drives a vehicle designed to carry five passengers. Too often, that car is empty except for its driver.

What a fuel waste!

Mexico does it better. The feasible public transportation system – which is changing the nature of urban transport services – represents a model for a world facing fossil fuel shortages.

Underlying this effort resides Volvo Group, the Swedish-based company that has lent its knowledge and talent – and product – to a country that has innovated its transportation needs. What’s going on in Mexico transportation could serve as a template for companies and countries focused on reduced energy consumption.

“We’re changing the nature of public transportation. Volvo has not only made it more safe but more reliable,” says Per Gabell, president of Volvo Buses Mexico. “We’ve introduced city buses, inter-city buses and tourist coaches that are bottomed by Volvo’s innovative technology, such as our engines,” says Gabell.

As a result, Mexico is one of Volvo’s most fertile markets – indeed one of the largest for bus and coach vehicles.

“Bus and body manufacturing programs place us as a leader in urban transportation, or BRT, which means bus rapid transport,” says Gabell.

The BRT concept – and Volvo’s approach – is significantly changing the nature of public transportation, especially in areas such as Latin America, where vehicle drivers can’t afford to be so flagrantly blithe about energy expenditures (that is, cost at the pump).

Established in 1998 – resulting from the acquisition of MASA (Mexicana de Autobuses) – and based in Tultitlán, Mexico, Volvo Buses Mexico resides in a territory where sanity prevails. Latin America is a global region that embraces a non-nuclear proliferation treaty. So it only makes sense that this nation would demonstrate smart sensibility as far as the large, looming energy consumption issue.

Volvo serves the passenger and product transportation markets and offers vehicles produced with its parts – chassis, body and other components. In Mexico, this translates into smart purchases that advance the nation’s transportation infrastructure. Volvo products include:

  • City buses;
  • Inter-city buses;
  • Coaches.

Articulation is the defining characteristic of Volvo products, especially as it relates to Mexico. For many years, such articulated and bi-articulated buses have been available in Europe. The rest of the world is catching on. Mexico has positioned itself at the forefront.

An articulated vehicle sounds a bit insectoidal: an exo-skeletal machine comprised of rigid sections connected by a pivotal joint. But the benefit is definitely humanoid: better driver operation and improved passenger comfort. For instance, the Volvo 9300 model is easy to drive, it’s safe, and the road-holding capabilities make for a smooth ride. We’re talking about a large conveyance that measures more than 80 feet and accommodates about 300 passengers, without crowding them into an overbooked vehicle. This isn’t an airplane; it’s a bus provided by a company that hasn’t forgotten the human element. Indeed passengers are human, not a merely a priced-tagged ticket.

And the pilot (or driver) can easily manage the vehicle, which contributes to passenger comfort. “The articulated and bi-articulated buses that operate in metropolitan areas are easier for drivers to navigate through busy city streets, thanks to the advanced axles and joints that we’ve engineered,” explains Gabell.

It gets people where they want to go, comfortably and efficiently. Again, this is a model that other countries should replicate.

In Mexico, Volvo’s production facilities occupy more than 80,000 square meters on 220,000 square meters of company owned land. The facility productivity boasts as much as 12 units each day, which is a considerable amount, when you consider the quality level, the inherent safety factors, and the engineering.

The integrated facility – everything combines into a company-described “single element” – is located in Tultitlán, centered in Mexico’s major production region. This means a strategic position, located close to customers and suppliers.

In 2012, the government of Mexico City purchased seven bi-articulated and six articulated buses, an investment that meets the city’s growing demand for transportation. This includes 54 buses, eight of which are electronic hybrids.

“The Mexican division’s mission is to build the best transport vehicles – and these include the 7300, 7700, 9700 and 8300 models that include the best chassis [the B9R] and the highest horsepower for public transportation vehicles – and optimal levels of passenger comfort,” says Gabell. “Also, with electric hybridization, we are taking inner-city into a new direction.”

For sure, the construction of transport vehicles is something the company takes quite seriously. It’s a complicated process and in runs from dream (conception) to design (engineering) to production (manufacture).

Consider what it has already accomplished with its 8300 model (an inner-city bus mounted on Volvo’s B9R chassis and boasting a 340-horsepower engine, as well as electronically controlled air suspension and a four-wheel disc brake system.)

“It’s a reliable vehicle that provides operators with an optimal turning radius,” say Gabell. “It’s also cost effective, as operational expense is greatly reduced and maintenance is simplified.”

The company’s tourist coaches provide the most efficient, safe and profitable transport.

The 8300 Volvo (a medium-range coach) traverses the most demanding roadways, thanks to its exceptional road-holding capabilities (due to effective disc brake and exceptional stabilizers and suspension system).

Further, to the company’s great credit, it operates under strict and self-imposed controls. Its harshest, most unrelenting critic is itself. Never satisfied with what it has accomplished, it looks to the next hurdle.”

More than that, it searches for the next challenge. This is one company that just can’t sit still.

“Reliability, better performance, enhanced fuel consumption, client satisfaction, passenger comfort – that’s what we want to provide our country and our industry,” says Gabell. “I think that covers everything about what we want to do.”

But if he missed something, rest assured that it will be incorporated into the company’s mission statement and strategic plan. This is a company that wants to cover every mile.

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