Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC) will look to expand into the growing paratransit market through an emerging partnership with ARBOC Specialty Vehicles on the co-development of a low-floor rear-engine custom chassis.
Through the partnership, which started in fall 2012, FCCC and ARBOC Specialty Vehicles – a custom builder of paratransit vehicles for a variety of applications based in Middlebury, Ind. – are working through a close, collaborative process to develop a customized, dedicated chassis for ARBOC's highly anticipated Spirit of Liberty product line.
The new product will be powered by an FCCC rear diesel pusher and feature an innovative low-floor design that will eliminate the step-up over the rear axle, and will equip the Spirit of Liberty well for its expected use in a variety of low-floor applications like assisted living facilities, hotel and rental car transport, transit agencies and others. The chassis will offer customers a GVW of up to 25,900 lbs. It features ARBOC's spacious low-floor interior throughout the passenger area with no steps and it includes oversized wheelchair zones.
"We've seen a strong anticipated demand for the Liberty since introducing it in 2012, and we are excited about the new opportunities this new Liberty concept brings through partnership with FCCC," said Don Roberts, president and CEO of ARBOC Specialty Vehicles. "Working with FCCC helps us ensure not only that we offer the marketplace a superior, high-quality product, but also one backed by a superior dealer service and factory support infrastructure."
"This bus will be an innovative, low-floor product built for tomorrow, today," he added.
FCCC and ARBOC are working toward having a first prototype of the new Spirit of Liberty model in time for APTA in Indianapolis the first week of May. From there, FCCC and ARBOC expect to have a second round of prototypes ready by late 2013 or early 2014 before starting up production soon after full test validation. The Spirit of Liberty line offers three models ranging in body length from 28' to 33' and seating capacity from 31 up to 37 passengers.
"This has been an ideal partnership to date, as we work closely together to provide ARBOC a dedicated, uniquely designed and purpose-built low-floor chassis for its customers," said Tony Sippel, director of sales and marketing for FCCC. "Instead of a modified existing chassis with limited options and capabilities, ARBOC and its customers get a custom chassis for their unique applications, one that offers streamlined service and warranty coverage. It will offer a wealth of very exciting features for their customers."
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