The new venture will join Freightliner subsidiary Thomas Built Buses with Mayflower subsidiaries Walter Alexander and Dennis Bus and Coach to produce low-floor, lighter weight transit buses used in a variety of city transport applications. The buses will be manufactured by the joint venture for Thomas Built Buses by the year 2000 and also be distributed by that company’s distribution network.
Walter Alexander is one of the largest bus body manufacturers in Europe and Dennis Bus and Coach is the leading commercial bus chassis maker based in the United Kingdom. Thomas Built Buses, acquired in 1998 by Freightliner, is the leading maker of school buses in North America. The annual volume of the North American school bus market is approximately 35,000 units, while the commercial bus market is estimated at about 20,000 units annually. There’s a potential annual market of 5,000 low-floor buses annually, and Freightliner expects to grow its transit and coach business rapidly.