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GM vs Flx and NF vs Nova: Bus Industry Deja Vu?

 
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Q65A



Age: 60
Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 1634
Location: Central NJ

PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2016 11:08 am    Post subject: GM vs Flx and NF vs Nova: Bus Industry Deja Vu? Reply with quote

It is interesting to observe how the contemporary transit bus market has begun to parallel the transit bus market of the 1960's. Back in the '60's, GM had the upper hand and Flxible ran a distant 2nd. In that era, Mack already had abandoned the bus market for the much greener pastures in the heavy truck market. The "new kids on the block" such as AM General, Orion, New Flyer et al. had yet to arrive. Bus historians likely would take note that Flx and GM had a "David and Goliath" relationship. GM was part of an enormously powerful industrial organization. GM Truck & Coach engineers had access to GM corporate technologies, incuding Detriot Diesel engines and Allison transmissions. Flx was struggling as an independent brand that ironically had to procure engines and transmissions from its arch-rival GM.
Today we also have 2 major transit bus manufacturers: New Flyer and Nova Bus. Many of the "new kids on the block" grew up and then left the transit bus market. A quick glance through Bus World Encycopedia of Buses will show how many smaller brands have come and gone. NABI and Orion are 2 of the more recent "fallen flags". In 2016, the #1 brand is New Flyer, but their situation more resembles that of Flx, not GM. The #2 brand is Nova Bus, and their situation more resembles that of GM. Here is why I say this. New Flyer (plus recent acquisitions MCI and NABI) is 100% bus builder. They are an independent manufacturer, not part of a larger industrial conglomerate. They manufacture no engines or other powertrain components. Conversely, Nova Bus and sister Prevost Car are owned by Volvo AB, a very large global manufacturer of buses, trucks, construction equipment and marine diesel engines (unlike GM, they sold their car building division some years ago Nova Bus and Prevost have access to engine and transmission technologies from their parent. As one example, NYCT's Prevost X3-45's use Volvo D13 engines. (I do not know if Volvo has used any of their own engines smaller than the D13 in Nova Bus orders). The situation on the cruiser side also presents a difference between today's market and that of the 1960's. Back in the day, GM virtually monopolized the highway coach market. Flxible highway buses were regionally popular, especially certain with Trailways operators, but they never really made a big impact on the highway coach market. Today, even though MCI (owned today by New Flyer) has dominated the highway coach market, today they have encountered competition from Prevost and Van Hool. The idea of using a Prevost in commuter service is a radical idea: Prevost is regarded as a premium coach, and has replaced Eagle as the brand of choice for high-end motor homes and conversion shells (very popular with touring musicians and itinerant political candidates). How the market ultimate will go in the future is anyone's guess, of course: back in the 1960's very few bus people seriously would have foreseen GM's dramatic fall from grace in the 1980's. History professors usually are quick to point out that, while history does not truly "repeat itself" in the absolute sense, nevertheless human behavior does not change very much, and the decision making behavior of large businesses often remains the same (sometimes distressingly so) year after year. What do you folks think?
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traildriver




Joined: 26 Mar 2011
Posts: 864
Location: Queens, NY

PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2016 10:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think it is quite the same...
The big factor you didn't mention in your comparison, was the government's determination to end GM's near monopoly in the business.
GM was the victim of its own success.

Indeed, I firmly believe that if GM had a free rein, it had the "power, plant, and personality" to continue that dominance even into today...
It decided to give up the business, rather than continue fighting with the government.
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TheDriver




Joined: 18 Dec 2015
Posts: 194
Location: America

PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2016 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

especially since so many hated GM
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