North American Bus Industries
|North American Bus Industries (NABI)
|Anniston, Alabama, United States
|New Flyer Industries
North American Bus Industries originally was an independent manufacturer before the purchase by Cerberus Capital Management. They manufactured a variety of products sold in the United States. They were based in Anniston, AL, USA, which is now where North American Bus Industries, Inc. is headquartered. Since June 21, 2013, the company has been a subsidiary of New Flyer Industries.
At the end of the 1970s, Ikarus Coach and Body Works and Crown Coach Corporation entered into an agreement to sell an articulated bus in the United States. Designated as the model 286, it was a derivative of Ikarus's existing articulated bus and adapted for the American market. A similar agreement was made with Ontario Bus Industries in 1984. The joint venture would end in 1987 with Crown and in 1989 with Ontario Bus amid a number of quality and construction problems.
In the wake of the problems with the 286, Ikarus regrouped and entered into an agreement with Union City Body Company of Union City, Indiana, to market and assemble a new bus for the American market. Ikarus USA was formed as a subsidiary of Union City Body Company in 1989 and launched their new product, the 416, followed by the articulated 436. However, the end of the Cold War led to the financial decline of Ikarus in Europe and uncertainty with its future. Union City Body Company eventually declared bankruptcy in 1992, ceasing operations in August of that year.
Hungarian-born United States resident Peter Rona created the First Hungary Fund to capitalize on what he saw as a wealth of knowledge in his home country. In August 1992, he purchased Union City Body Company. American Ikarus was created and owned by a new holding company called North American Bus Industries. Rona offered 25 percent of American Ikarus to Ikarus of Hungary in return for one of their properties.
Though American Ikarus was more successful than its predecessors, by the mid-1990s Ikarus decided that they wanted to leave the North American market given increased competition in Europe. In 1997, Rona bought back Ikarus's 25 percent stake, and American Ikarus was renamed North American Bus Industries (NABI).
NABI introduced their first low floor bus in 1997. The 40-foot 40-LFW had a low floor front section with steps up to a high floor section before the rear wheels.
In the late 1990s, NABI secured an exclusive worldwide licensing agreement with TPI Composites for the use of the Seaman Composite Resin Infused Molding Process (SCRIMP) to manufacture heavy-duty buses. NABI introduced the 40C-LFW at the 1999 Union of Public Transport City Transport Expo in Toronto, Ontario. The bus's composite body was made from a glass- and carbon-fiber reinforced, vinyl-ester resin laminate. This resulted in a lightweight, one-piece body.
In January 2000, NABI purchased Optare Holdings Ltd., a manufacturer of buses based in the United Kingdom. This gave NABI access to the European market as well as new product offerings. The Optare Solo was introduced to the North American market as the NABI 30-LFN. While sales looked promising, NABI only sold approximately 170 30-LFN buses. In 2005 NABI sold Optare to a management team led by two Optare executives for approximately US$20.7 million.
In February 2006, NABI and its parent company, NABI Rt. in Budapest, Hungary, were acquired by Cerberus Capital Management, a New York-based private equity fund manager.
On August 21, 2006, NABI announced their purchase of Optima Bus Corporation for a undisclosed amount. This added the popular Opus low-floor midibus and American Heritage replica streetcar (rubber-tired trackless) to NABI's roster. Production remained in Wichita and the products kept the Optima name. However almost a year later on June 6, 2007, it was announced that Optima Bus Corporation would cease operations in Kansas and move operations to Anniston, Alabama.
On August 25, 2006, Cerberus announced the acquisition of Blue Bird Corporation. Their transit bus product lines were acquired by NABI, and production was eventually moved to their Anniston, Alabama facility.
Production of the Optima and Blue Bird transit product lines were idled in 2009. They never resumed and were discontinued.
On June 21, 2013, Cerberus sold NABI to New Flyer Industries, and subsequently, NABI became a subsidiary of New Flyer. A year later, New Flyer announced the discontinuation of NABI's product line. Existing orders were filled into 2015, and remaining orders were converted to New Flyer's product line.
BRT Style Low Floor
Composite Low Floor
- "COMPANY NEWS Ontario Bus Gets Contract." The Globe and Mail, 1984.
- Burger, Frederick. "Ikarus' Owners File Chapter 11." Anniston Star, 1992.
- Hofheinz, Paul. Reverse Engineers: Hungarians Design Buses Made in the U.S. 11 April 2000. The Wall Street Journal.
- Henke, Cliff (May 2005). The Death of a Radical Idea. Metro Magazine (Torrence).
- NABI sells Optare. Metro Magazine.
- NEW FLYER CONFIRMS THE SUCCESSFUL CLOSING OF NORTH AMERICAN BUS INDUSTRIES, INC. ACQUISITION AND RELATED FINANCING TRANSACTIONS Retrieved on June 21, 2013