TATA attacks bus market

Tata takes up position

In South Africa’s bus market, which is dominated by bus bodies built onto truck chassis, Tata has now positioned itself by offering buses built on dedicated bus chassis

In doing so, it has made three models available offering seating capacity for 25, 28 and 37 passengers (all excluding driver) with a 65-seater to be introduced later this year. “We do not target the tourism industry as our buses are best described as reliable and durable utility buses, or work horses. They were designed to function in the tough operating conditions found not only in India, but in South Africa and cross-border countries as well,” says Braam Walters, TATA’s bus division manager.

“TATA’s bus offerings, comprising the LP 713 and LPO 918 model ranges, undergo continuous refinement and offer plenty of space and comfort. This has been achieved with the 25-seater (SFC 713) and 28-seater (LP 713) models actually having been based on a bus chassis previously for a 32-seater,” he explains.

Both vehicles are powered by TATA’s tried and tested 697 six-cylinder, in-line, direct injection diesel engine, which has a capacity of 5 675 cc. Fitted with an engine monitoring system, it generates 95,7 kW of power at 2 800 r/min and torque of 363 Nm at 1 800 r/min through a five-speed synchromesh gearbox. The 697 TCIC engine in the 28-seater model, delivers the same output, but at 2 400 r/min, while torque is increased to 416 Nm between 1 400 r/min and 2 700 r/min.

It features full S-cam air brakes coupled to an exhaust brake and a hydraulic double acting telescopic-type suspension system with semi-elliptical leaf springs at the rear. For several years now, TATA Motors has been in alliance with Brazilian bus and coach body builder Marcopolo, which is apparent in the 28-seater model. “Marcopolo adapted its body for Indian conditions and through various processes we found it to be very suitable for South African conditions as well,” says Walters.

The 28-seater therefore features a strong superstructure of galvanised steel tubing to prevent corrosion and offers a stylishly designed interior which, apart from the seating arrangement, features an electronic, visible instrument cluster arrangement, parcel trays, and a driver operated pneumatic folding passenger entrance door (apart from the driver’s door).

Whereas the 7 m long 25-seater has a GVM of 7 500 kg (GCM 8 500 kg), the 28-seater has a GVM of 7 700 kg (9 700 kg).

TATA Motors India and Cummins have also been in an alliance for several years and this comes through in the 37-seater LPO 918 model, which has been fitted with the six-inline Cummins 5.9180 turbo intercooled diesel engine. With a displacement of
5 883 cc, this engine produces 132 kW of power at 2 250 r/min and 683 Nm of torque at  1 500 r/min.

According to Walters, the 9 m long bus is imported CBU with a one-piece windscreen, a leaf-type passenger door in front of the front axle bus. It has been fitted with 8.25R20 tyres and has a GVM of 9 500 kg (GCM 11 500 kg).

From a safety point of view, all vehicles have also been fitted with front and rear anti-roll bars and been fully homologated for South Africa’s road conditions. All the models are also supplied with an extended three year/300 000 km warranty. “TATA is now the second largest bus manufacturer in the world and a leader in the medium bus market since 1965. We intend to become a leading player in the African market and have already received orders for these buses from our dealers in South Africa, as well as from Botswana and Namibia.

“With an established full dealership network in South Africa and a 65-seater bus (powered by Cummins), to be introduced later this year, TATA is poised for growth with an exciting future,” says Shaheer Abrahams, GM sales and marketing.

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