The story of how we see bus travel today in India is entwined with the story of Volvo Buses in India. Before 2001, when Volvo Buses were launched, there were many a questions about the kind of buses we were talking about - Indian roads, price conscious customers, product price, customer demand. But, we did not see a future otherwise. It was getting clear that it was not that customers and passengers did not seek such buses, they instead were not aware that it was possible to aspire for them. Today, Volvo city Buses operate in 36 cities and our coaches cover the length and breadth of the country, covering over 100 prominent cities. And, the efforts behind this success belong to many - fleet operators, authorities, citizens, passengers and drivers with us.
The first wave: Changing customer profiles and the way India looks at Bus travel
The introduction of Volvo B7R Inter-city luxury AC buses saw the introduction of the true bus chassis backed by a rear engine, air suspension and other technologies so that the bus was built with the purpose of carrying people unlike the norm then where truck chassis were adapted to building a bus. Volvo was entering a market where the norm was to sell the chassis and build the body by another party. At that time, though a Volvo approved body builder built the bodies of Volvos, it was ensured that the entire bus was as per Volvo design. The result, luggage space in the belly of the bus, excellent comfort, increased safety, a great view and the ability to travel longer distances without fatigue – both for the customer and the driver.
Following the launch in 2001 in South, these coaches were steadily spread across West, North, East in the years to follow, until there came a time when there was a Volvo Coach on almost every single key road in India. Today, since Volvo Buses builds its own bodies too and is a complete bus manufacturer, the bus is christened Volvo 9400. The most valuable impact has been on our customers who have turned these high-performing buses in their fleet to establish their own brands in the transport world. The fuel economy and life cycle costing advantage of a Volvo Bus drove customers to adopt the change.
The next wave: Making public transport more attractive
The first Volvo City Buses were demonstrated even before the Volvo inter-city bus was introduced, back in 2000, but took longer to break into the market. However, when we look back it was not about the bus. It was about establishing the idea that a modern, growing city must make public transport the no. 1 means of mobility – for all. In 2006, Bangalore city with BMTC pioneered the introduction of high-performing buses by acquiring 25 Volvo B7RLE City Buses. Today, after 20 years, Volvo city buses are offering high quality, stress free, safe public transportation to 36 cities in India. A majority of the passengers who have made Volvo their choice of commute have left behind their personal vehicles, thereby helping us in our mission to reduce traffic congestion and emissions and optimize fuel use. This is a unique achievement, in which Volvo has been able to bring a modal shift in transportation from private to comfortable public transport. And much more is being done.
The many firsts
Seeing the adoption of our coaches and city buses and in order to serve our customer expectations better, in 2008, Volvo Buses India became a complete Bus company. This was the very first time the customer would get the entire gamut of bus solutions under one single window – the chassis, body, service and parts support and customer advisory. 10 years hence, we remain the only complete premium bus manufacturer in India.
Having changed the bus market with the original Volvo Inter-city coach and the following Low Floor City bus, Volvo introduced the Volvo 9400XL multi-axle coach in 2008. This longer, multie-axle bus carries more passengers and offers higher revenue to the customer while providing even higher comfort to the passenger. Within a year, this bus became the bestselling coach and swept the entire private fleet operators market, a high point for the bus industry on the whole.
The first few successful firsts paved the path for many more rewarding firsts over the years. With strong expertise and experience available, the team started its coach exports in 2011 and continues to do so till date. In 2014, UD brand buses were launched for the value segment in India, targeting smaller cities and the BRT (Bus Rapid Transport) routes. In 2016, the first Hybrid City Buses were delivered in India – a first for India and for Volvo Buses India. The same year saw the launch of the complete range of BS IV coaches, ahead of regulation as well as the exports of Euro VI buses to Europe to demanding markets like Spain and France - a first for any Bus manufacturer from India. In 2018, 100 UD BRT buses were delivered for the Hubli-Dharward route.
All Volvo Buses through the years have employed unique and the most advance features in its buses which include electronic brake systems, crumple zones, driver-friendly environment, preventive maintenance, electronic suspension along with a driveline that responds to the driver, irrespective of the terrain - all of which supports greater travel safety and experience.
Since 2001, Volvo Buses raised the expectations of Indian passengers and customers. The entry of Volvo buses into India opened up a new segment of public transport, making it a highly respected ticket brand. This period has also a learning curve where both Volvo understood the customer needs better and the customers understood how to deploy and operate a Volvo better. Today, Volvo has the richest experience when it comes to high-performing bus solutions. It has become synonymous with best in class travel, premium and high quality experience.
1. Volvo Buses in India has introduced many firsts and has taken big steps to introduce bus concepts with an aim to maximize passenger comfort and safety. From A/C coaches, to Low Entry a/c city buses, to multi-axle coaches, to Hybrid city buses, to BS IV ahead of regulations, to BRT offering. All of this leading to a modal shift in urban transportation – from private to public vehicles
2. Since its entry and over the years, Volvo Buses have been the final word when it comes to high quality, luxury travel, making it a ticket brand