Bus News Features — 17 July 2018

A desire to move from being a regional bus operator in the tropical centre of Mossman to become our newest bus and coach distributor has seen FNQ Bus Lines start an all new company with a new line of Chinese built buses to be known in Australia as Challenger Bus and Coach.

Based in the unlikely location of Mossman, north of Cairns, Challenger Bus and Coach (CBC) has secured the rights to the latest Chinese brand to come here from a company called iWarrior part of the giant An Yuan Bus Manufacturing company, a serious player in Chinese bus manufacturing.

Two models will be available initially, the Challenger Coach V12 a 12-metre vehicle and the Challenger Coach V10, naturally a 10-metre model and both, according to CBC execs, come engineered for Australian conditions.

The man behind CBC is Greg Sloan, as we said a long time bus operator who says he knows the demands and needs of bus operators after years in the industry.

“We are bus operators and we know the issues that you deal with day-to-day,” Greg Sloan told us.

The company says it has offices in Victoria, South Australia and of course in Far North Queensland and Sloan says he guarantees the product.

“If you have a problem, we have a problem and we will respond immediately,” Sloan assured us.

Sloan came to acquire the distributorship almost by accident, when trying to source transmission and wiring spares for one of his fleet buses.

“After fixing the problem, I got talking to the engineer and a few other people there who got involved and we came up with the basic concept for this new bus and then just kept improving on it.’’

“We had a broken down bus that we couldn’t use and the iWarrior people helped me out even tracking down the company that built it and that is how the relationship began over the past 18 months,” Sloan said.

Sloan says Challenger will handle all aspects of the brand from importation to the actual distribution and retail sales along with servicing and spares.

“The buses are specifically designed and built for the Australian bus and coach industry and our particular conditions,’’ says Sloan.

“We regularly host engineers from iWarrior who have come to Australia to evaluate certain mechanical components and systems as they find our environment particularly demanding on machinery, ’’ he said.

“These guys have been manufacturing buses for a long time and know their stuff so we benefit from their experience and know how,’’ Sloan added.

Known as Challengers here in Australia, the new buses from the IWarrior Bus Company come from the An Yuan factory with specific detail changes for Australian conditions. The buses coming here under CBC distributorship are similar in spec to the bus An Yuan sells in its domestic China market as the Star of Australia or model PK6139A3. In fact An Yuan names its models as Star of, with the Star of South East Asia, the Star of America, the Star of Africa and of course the Star of Australia.

What Challenger has done is taken the Star of Australia and with engineering and deign input worked with An Yuan to develop the models for local demands and conditions

The Chinese bus industry is nothing if not adaptable as it can pretty much build a `bespoke’ bus to any requirement or specification.

This according to Sloan has allowed CBC to virtually purpose-build the V12 and V10 models for our market, again using highly experienced engineers who have previously worked in manufacturing buses destined for Australia.

Sloan claims a significant difference between these and other China-built buses sold here is the use of European sourced stainless steel in their chassis.

“Some of our other buses operating here in FNQ develop serious chassis and body corrosion in just a few years,’’ Greg Sloan said.

“For longevity and strength, An Yuan builds the chassis and frame using stainless steel sourced from Finland,’’ he added.

“It’s called Stalatube – a high quality product and very resistant to corrosion.”

“Other high-end components go into CBC buses such as Styleride TST seats for additional passenger comfort.’’

Sloan said Challenger buses can be customised to practically any specification within the boundaries of parts availability. “Whatever the customer wants…….,’’he says.

“Our initial vehicles will be equipped to day-coach spec, which features 53/57 leather recliner seats.”

CBC promo literature says their buses have the advantage of durability and longevity thanks to the use of premium grade materials and components.

For example due to corrosion problems in a coastal Australian environment, bodywork is compressed fibreglass and aluminium, light in weight and corrosion resistant.  Flooring is reinforced PVC material, again for strength and durability, with added sound deadening to maintain a quiet cabin ambience with minimal intrusion of tyre and engine noise.

Local validation of certain parts and components is carried out for quality and performance while only high grade welding and sealant finish are used.

Large luggage bins span the width of the bus with doors each side. USB ports are provided to each seat.

CBC is confident its vehicles will deliver reliability and offers warranty cover for up to two years on the vehicle including chassis and body with the running gear covered for two years/200,000km.

Greg Sloan is putting his money where his mouth is by personally placing orders on several buses as “a testament to the superiority of the product,” he said.

He said the CBC buses were similar to others on the market in terms of body and chassis construct but they have Cummins engines underneath plus Allison or ZF transmissions, Wabco brakes along with full multiplexed electrics using CANBUS.

“If customers want to order something different to the initial vehicles, for example changing the air conditioning system or door location, pretty much any changes they like, then we can accommodate that…ex-factory.’’

Sloan says CBC is in the process of establishing a parts supply network at their main depot saying “When people buy this bus we’ll keep a parts inventory for it – so if they need something and use it then we’ll get a replacement for our stock.’’

Sloan points out that CBC is a start-up company from small beginnings admitting they aren’t “big’’ but says the company does care about the product and as an operator itself will be able to answer customers needs with an intimate industry knowledge.

Lets hope this Challenger goes the distance and has a satisfactory landing in Australia.

iWarrior V12 specs

Vehicle Size
12360mm x 2500mm x 3600mm L x W x H

Frame Material
Finnish Stainless Steel Chassis & Body,

Chassis
UK Cummins ISL 8.9L 360HP Engine
BOSCH Hydraulic Fan Drive
Allison T390R 6 Speed Automatic Transmission with Hydraulic Retarder
ZF Independent Suspension Steering Axle
ZF Drive Axle with 4.7 Diff Ratio
German Spheros A/C: Cooling & Heating
Independent Generator for A/C

Body
49 – 70Passenger Seats
Full length moulded fibreglass coverings

(Front & Rear Headers + Side Panels + Roof)

49 – 70Passenger Seats
Full length moulded fibreglass coverings

(Front & Rear Headers + Side Panels + Roof)

 

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