Bus Brings Advanced Technology
to the School Bus Market
HIGH POINT, N.C. — Thomas Built Buses has raised the grade on school
transportation with the introduction of its completely new Saf-T-Liner® C2
school bus. The modern-styled bus, built with customer and driver input
from the ground up, features best-in-class engineering, testing and
manufacturing technology. It will be built in a new 275,000 square-foot,
state-of-the-art manufacturing facility dedicated to production of this
next-generation conventional school bus.
“The Saf-T-Liner C2 doesn’t look like any other bus on the market today
because we started with a clean sheet of paper,” said John O’Leary,
president of Thomas Built Buses. “We held focus groups and developed a
group of nearly 1,000 industry professionals to survey. We listened to what
school transportation directors, technicians and drivers told us they
wanted in a school bus. We combined those ideas with advanced technologies
to create an all-new, Type C school bus for the 21st century – the Saf-T-Liner
The completely integrated Saf-T-Liner C2 has numerous distinctive features,
- The largest
driver visibility footprint in the Type C category.>
- A body
assembly system utilizing welds, structural adhesives and self-piercing
driver cockpit and interior devices.
multiplexed wiring system shared by the body and chassis.
- A choice of
Mercedes-Benz MBE900 engines or Caterpillar C7 diesel engines.
The C2 is built on a
Freightliner chassis that is designed for school bus applications and
improves on advantages already well known in Thomas Built Buses – superior
visibility, durability, reliability, performance and safety.
“The safety and performance bars have just moved considerably higher for
the entire industry,” said O’Leary. “The C2 is designed to deliver more
driver visibility, greater durability, enhanced driver ergonomics and
better handling than any Type C school bus on the road today.”
The large, 2,700-square-inch sloping windshield is more than stylish – it
delivers the largest visibility footprint in the Type C category -- and is
bonded to the body for increased structural integrity.
- A low sloping
hood, automotive-style instrument panel and A-pillar windows provide
outstanding roadway and entrance zone visibility.
- A standard
power-operated entrance door and front “A” pillar windows increase sight
lines for children getting into and out of the bus.
- Large side
windows create a better view all around.
The Saf-T-Liner C2’s greater durability comes from advanced processes and a
proven system of structural adhesives and self-piercing rivets similar to
systems used in the aerospace industry. The combination of adhesives and
rivets results in fewer fasteners for a sleek look, fewer potential leak
points and substantially stronger joints. Sample joints demonstrated nearly
twice the strength of riveted joints in standardized FMVSS 221 compliance
tests. The welded floor, rafters and stringers form a solid structure that
-- when bonded to the side panels -- create a single, strong, unitized body
that provides stability and durability. In addition, adhesive joints
maintain a higher percentage of integrity throughout the life of the bus
when compared to rivet-only joints.
Another industry first: a recessed eight-light warning system improves the
bus’ durability and reduces maintenance. Because the system is
flush-mounted, there’s less opportunity for damage by tree limbs and
low-hanging objects. Made with Lexan®, the lights resist impacts from rocks
and other hazards. Changing bulbs is routine because bulbs are easily
accessed through built-in service areas from the interior of the bus. It
will no longer require removal of the entire fixture each time a bulb is
changed, thereby reducing technician time, effort and cost.
Operators and technicians will love the C2’s reliability and lower
lifecycle costs. From the recessed warning lights to the fully integrated,
multiplexed wiring network, simplicity and economy led the design of the
new Saf-T-Liner C2. Multiplexed electrical systems reduce the amount of
wiring and relays, eliminate connectors and make it easy to add switches
and accessories without reprogramming. Downtime and repair costs are
further reduced by more accurate diagnostic capabilities provided by the
multiplex system’s electronic control unit.
“The C2 changes forever what passengers, drivers, operators and technicians
think about school buses,” O’Leary said. “The ride to school is no longer a
history lesson, because we have designed a bus with proven automotive
technology for improved performance, life cycle cost and safety.”
Improved Ergonomics & Structural Strength
Drivers will appreciate the Saf-T-Liner C2’s well-designed driver cockpit
built especially for them. Great visibility, easy-to-reach and read
controls, and advanced comfort features create an environment where drivers
can focus on the safe transportation of their young passengers.
- A new low,
automotive-style instrument panel made with non-reflective materials cuts
down on glare and reduces eye strain.
pedal arrangement and control position have all been improved to reduce
fatigue. The optional adjustable pedals and tilt steering column,
combined with the adjustable driver’s seat, provide the perfect fit for
drivers big and small.
- Ample storage
can be found overhead above the windshield header, and to the driver’s
left beneath the switch console. An additional storage option is
available in the unique center console.
- An improved
HVAC system and added insulation improve driver and passenger comfort.
An advanced-design interior
delivers a standard 78-inch interior height, with an overall vehicle
profile closer to a 73-inch headroom school bus. Galvalume floor sheets and
upper and lower interior side panels resist corrosion – and graffiti.
One-piece roof bows and a heavy-duty formed rear anchor post add strength
and structural integrity to the new C2.
Better Handling and Performance
Riding on the incredibly tough Freightliner chassis, the C2 offers
industry-topping maneuverability with a set-back axle and a best-in-class
wheel cut of up to 55 degrees. Tapered-leaf springs all around and a lower
height give drivers and passengers improved ride quality while reducing
wear on components.
Superior performance is available with a Mercedes-Benz MBE900 engine with
up to 250 horsepower or the Caterpillar C7 engine. Multiple engine and
transmission options make it possible to meet the most stringent
“With its groundbreaking styling and the latest in manufacturing
technology, we believe the Saf-T-Liner C2 will change the industry and
alter perceptions about what a school bus can be,” said O’Leary. “At
Thomas, we combined our experience, with support from DaimlerChrysler’s
world wide resources to create better solutions for the future.”
The C2 will be built at Thomas’ new technologically-advanced manufacturing
plant in High Point, N.C. Built on an existing 90-acre site, the
state-of-the art facility boasts a 3/4-mile-long assembly line, an
automatic conveyor system and downdraft, filtered paint booths.
Thomas Built Buses is a subsidiary of Freightliner LLC and is the leading
manufacturer of school buses in North America, with a 34% share of the
school bus market.
Freightliner LLC, headquartered in Portland, Oregon is the largest
heavy-duty truck manufacturer in North America and a leading manufacturer
of Class 3-7 vehicles. Freightliner produces and markets commercial
vehicles under the Freightliner, Sterling, Western Star, American LaFrance,
and Thomas Built Buses nameplates. Freightliner is a company of
DaimlerChrysler, the world’s leading commercial vehicle manufacturer.