IC Bus

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TypeSubsidiary of Navistar International
IndustryManufacturing (Transportation)
Headquarters2601 Navistar Dr
Lisle, Illinois 60532
Number of locations2
Area servedNorth America
Key peopleJohn McKinney, President
ParentNavistar International
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TypeSubsidiary of Navistar International
IndustryManufacturing (Transportation)
Headquarters2601 Navistar Dr
Lisle, Illinois 60532
Number of locations2
Area servedNorth America
Key peopleJohn McKinney, President
ParentNavistar International

IC Corp. [formerly AmTran (American Transportation Corp.)][1] is a bus manufacturer in the United States. The company was established in 2002 as a re-branding of American Transportation Corporation (AmTran). IC Bus traces its roots back to Ward Body Works, which was established in 1933. The company specializes in school buses, multi-function school activity buses (MFSABs), shuttle buses, and commercial transit buses derived from their school bus designs.

IC is an abbreviation of Integrated Coach, which alludes to the fact that body, chassis, and engine are all produced within a single corporate structure. All bus bodies are manufactured with an International chassis, as it is a wholly owned subsidiary of Navistar International Corporation.


Ward Body Works (1933-1979)[edit]

1980s Ward President school bus

D. H. "Dave" Ward founded Ward in Conway, Arkansas in 1933 when he "lowered the roof of a wooden bus for Mr. Carl Brady of the Southside Schools". Southside Schools were located about 15 miles north of Conway.[2]

In the 1930s, Ward Body Works produced its first all-metal body bus. In the 1960s, Ward School Bus Manufacturing, Inc. was responsible for many notable innovations including use of computers in manufacturing (using IBM 360s), safety advances, and manufacturing process improvements. In the 1970s, Ward opened an assembly facility in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, but this plant was closed in 1975. In 1976, Ward built a prototype Type D transit school and commercial bus on an International Harvester chassis with front-wheel drive and tandem rear tag axles. It did not enter production.

American Transportation Corporation(AmTran) (1980-2002)[edit]

2002 International RE

In 1979, Ward Industries filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.[3] Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton was instrumental in putting together a business group that bought the assets of Ward Industries. In 1980, the American Transportation Corporation (AmTran) was formed. In 1981, American Transportation Corporation began doing business as AmTran Corporation. However, the buses were still marketed with the "Ward" brand name throughout the 1980s, until 1992. A competitive situation with five similar bus body manufacturers continued to create extreme competitive pressure in a declining market as the combined factors of the aging baby boomer generation and federal court-ordered busing plans reduced the demand for new school bus bodies. In 1983, Harmon Brothers, a mid-western based school bus contractor, one of the larger owners of existing Ward fleets and a large dealership, purchased controlling interest of AmTran.[3] In 1991, Navistar International, the country's leading school bus chassis manufacturer at the time, purchased one-third interest in AmTran Corporation under the relaxed enforcement environment of some of the U.S. anti-trust laws in the era of the new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) laws and the Reagan Administration[citation needed]. The action was initiated by Jerry Williams, AmTran's CEO. Navistar also obtained an option to allow them to buy remaining two-thirds stock by April 1995.[3] An era of mergers and acquisitions among chassis and bus body manufacturers was thus begun. In early 1992, AmTran ended its use of the Ward brand name on school buses; many Ward product lines continued in production under the AmTran brand name. Navistar exercised the option on remaining American Transportation Corporation stock and completed the purchase in 1995. In 1996, AmTran ended Type A school bus production to concentrate on full-size school buses, becoming the first major manufacturer to produce full-size buses exclusively.

In 1999, AmTran announced plans to build a new facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma that would employ 1200 people. The conventional buses would be built at the new facility, but the Conway, Arkansas facility would continue to produce the rear engine and front engine models.

Limited Chassis Availability

As AmTran was now a part of Navistar, the International-chassis buses were marketed more aggressively than their other products. In 1992, General Motors dropped its B-series chassis (as part of a deal with Blue Bird); although the Ford B700 was an option, it was phased out after 1998. As Freightliner was the parent company of competitor Thomas Built Buses, the Freightliner FS65 was never offered with an AmTran body.

IC Corporation/IC Bus (2002-present)[edit]

2005-TBD IC CE

In 2000, AmTran introduced the IC, a fully integrated conventional school bus. The first models were badged "AmTran", although within a short time, the buses were badged "International" with the company taking on the identity "International Truck and Bus" from late 2000 to 2001 model years. For 2002, the company's name changed yet again to IC Corporation and the new conventional bus was re-introduced as the IC CE.

End of Conway Bus Production

On January 11, 2008, IC Corporation announced a layoff of about 300 employees at the Conway, Arkansas Bus Plant.[4] This was just under the maximum number of employees that could be laid off in Conway without the company violating the WARN Act, which requires employers to give 60 days notice of a mass layoff or plant closing. In addition to the layoffs, the company also announced a 50 percent reduction in bus production at the Conway plant. IC Corp. officials cited a lack of new orders as the reason for the layoffs. However,the company had recently announced increased production at the plant in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This stoked fears in Conway that the company was planning to shut down the plant in the near future and move all production to the newer, and non-union, Tulsa plant.

In April 2009, IC Corporation changed its name again, this time to IC Bus.

On November 5, 2009, IC Bus announced that its Conway plant would no longer assemble buses after January 18, 2010, projecting elimination of 477 jobs. The Conway facilities will serve as fabrication shops and will manufacture parts, but will no longer produce complete buses. The company cited low demand by school districts and contractors during the recessionary economic climate in the United States.[5] "We have to consolidate our bus-assembly operations into one facility," Navistar spokesman Roy Wiley said. "Unfortunately for Conway, Tulsa is a much newer facility."[6]

Product changes

The IC FE product literature was removed from the IC Bus website in early April 2010, as IC dealers started to announce its discontinuation. Roots of this bus can be traced back to 1990, when the Ward Senator was released. In late 1992 it became the AmTran Genesis. As of January 2011, IC only produces rear-engine transit-style buses (the RE-Series school bus and its commercial-use derivative). In late October 2010, the company introduced the AE,[7] its first Type A school bus since the discontinuation of the AmTran Vanguard after 1996. The AE utilizes a cutaway cab version of the International TerraStar chassis; the AE also features the same interior width and height as the BE and CE.[8]

Badging changes

The 2013 model year brought changes to both the logos on the rear bumper and the famed "wing" IC logo with the Navistar logo now bracing the rear bumper and the bottom line of the "wing".

100,000th bus

On June 5, 2012, the 100,000th bus rolled off the assembly line in the Tulsa, Oklahoma plant. The Tulsa Bus Plant employs more than 1,200 dedicated workers who manufacture, on average, 50 to 75 buses a day. This number has grown significantly from 400 employees in 2001 when the plant first opened. "This plant demonstrates our commitment to the school bus industry by building quality, state-of-the-art product," said John McKinney, president of Navistar Global Bus and IC Bus. "Because of the hard work and dedication of our Tulsa employees, IC Bus is far and away the industry leader not only in pure sales volume, but more importantly in product quality." The 100,000th bus marks more than just a milestone, but a testament to IC Bus' commitment to the community. The Tulsa bus plant contributes to the current growth trend of manufacturing in the U.S., which is illustrated by the more than 1,200 local skilled and office workers there.[9]

Addition of Cummins powertrain

On September 3, 2013, Navistar announced in a press release that as part of an expansion of its product lineup, the Cummins ISB 6.7 would be added as an option to the CE-Series school buses starting with 2015 model-year vehicles; initial production is slated for January 2014..[10] Alongside the current Navistar engines offering EGR emissions systems, the Cummins ISB is the first medium-duty Navistar vehicle (alongside the corresponding International DuraStar) to offer a SCR emissions system for the diesel exhaust.[11]


School/commercial buses[edit]

Model designations

Until 2010, IC used the following nomenclature with their vehicles to designate the engine type; subsequently, only the model prefix has been used.

IC Bus Product Lines
Model NameProductionConfigurationChassisPowertrainNotes
2012–presentSchool bus
Shuttle bus (AC-Series)
Navistar InternationalMaxxForce 7
  • The AE is the first Type A bus from IC Bus.
  • The AE has a standard flat-floor interior[8]
An IC BE school bus in Federal Way, Washington.
2006–presentSchool bus/MFSAB
Commercial bus
Navistar International
  • The BE is marketed primarily towards buyers who transport special-needs students (competing against Type A buses)
  • Apart from its smaller size, the BE differs from the CE with its standard flat-floor interior.
A 2003 IC CE conventional-style school bus owned by North Syracuse Central Schools.|An IC CE conventional-style school bus owned by Hampton City Public Schools.
first generation 2001–04(TOP) second generation 2005-present(BOTTOM)School bus/MFSABNavistar International
  • 3800 (variant, 2001–2004)
  • 3300 (2005–present)
  • T444E (2001–2004)
  • DT466E (2001–2007)
  • VT365 (2005–2008)
  • MaxxForce 7 (2008–present)
  • MaxxForce DT (2008–present)
  • Cummins ISB 6.7 (2015)
  • The CE-Series was introduced in 2001 and is currently in its second generation.
  • The CE is the basis for IC's diesel-electric hybrid bus.
    • Charge-sustaining and charge-depleting hybrid options are offered.
2001–presentSchool bus/MFSAB
Commercial bus (RC-Series)
Navistar International
  • T444E (2001–2004)
  • DT466E (2001–2008)
  • VT365 (2005–2008)
  • MaxxForce DT (2008–present)
  • MaxxForce 9 (RC-Series only; discontinued)
  • The IC RE was introduced in 1996 as the AmTran RE with an interior redesign in 1998.
  • Commercial versions, initially branded the IC RC, currently share the RE-Series name with the school bus product line
Low-floor shuttle busNavistar InternationalMaxxForce 7
  • The LC-Series is a low-floor ADA-compliant shuttle bus based on the International DuraStar cutaway cab.
Shuttle bus
Tour bus
Navistar International
  • MaxxForce 7
  • MaxxForce DT
  • The HC-Series is a high-floor shuttle bus based on the International DuraStar cutaway cab.
  • Various models are available
    • HC Bronze (shorter-length)
    • HC Gold (deluxe-trim)
    • HC Platinum (top-of-the-line)
    • The HC is also available in a parallel-drive hybrid model (MaxxForce DT)
FE-Series (discontinued)
2001-2010School busNavistar International
  • DT466E (2001–2008)
  • MaxxForce DT (2008–2010)
  • The IC FE was introduced in 1990 as the Ward Senator with gradual updates over time (1992, 1995, 1998, 2005).
  • In April 2010, IC Bus removed the IC FE product literature from its website as dealers announced its discontinuation.

Forward Advantage Prototype[edit]

The IC FE Forward Advantage was a school bus prototype built by IC in 2008 as a testbed of a "flat-floor" design in the stepwell due to the compact design of the Caterpillar C7 engine. It also included some front-end styling modifications influenced by the severe-service line of International trucks. As Caterpillar has withdrawn from producing diesel engines for the school bus market, the Forward Advantage will not see production in its current form since its design was tailored to the Caterpillar engine.

Hybrid diesel-electric buses[edit]

IC offers hybrid diesel-electric powertrains in the CE conventional school bus as an option. The buses provide approximately 40%[dubious ] better fuel economy but cost about two and a half times more than a standard diesel bus ($210,000 versus $80,000).[12][dead link] Enova Systems[13] has entered into a long-term supply agreement with IC Bus[14] that guarantees that Enova’s proprietary Post Transmission Parallel Hybrid Electric drive system will be used in IC Bus’ hybrid electric school buses. The hybrid school bus project features Enova’s charge depleting (or “plug-in”) or charge-sustaining systems. The drivetrain is powered by Valence Technology lithium ion phosphate battery modules. The braking system utilizes regenerative braking both as a means to reduce wear on the service brakes and to supply the batteries with extra power.[15]

Motorcoach prototypes[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]