IC Bus corporate logo
|Subsidiary of Navistar International|
|Founded||2002 (as IC Corporation)|
|Headquarters||2601 Navistar Dr
Lisle, Illinois 60532
Number of locations
|John McKinney, President|
IC Bus is an American bus manufacturer headquartered in Lisle, Illinois. A wholly owned subsidiary of Navistar International Corporation, IC specializes in school buses and multi-function school activity buses (MFSABs). In addition to school buses, the company produces commercial vehicles derived from their school bus products as well as dedicated shuttle buses.
The company was established by Navistar in 2002 through the reorganization of its subsidiary bus manufacturer American Transportation Corporation (AmTran). Through AmTran, IC traces its roots back to the 1933 founding of Ward Body Works in Conway, Arkansas.
The IC company name is an abbreviation of Integrated Coach (previously Integrated Chassis), alluding to the single corporate structure (Navistar International) that produces the bus body, chassis, and engine. All buses are produced with Navistar International chassis and engines (the latter, prior to 2015), and all bodies are produced at the IC manufacturing facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The body manufacturing operations of IC Bus trace their origin to 1933 in Conway, Arkansas. Blacksmith D.H. "Dave" Ward entered school bus production when he "lowered the roof of a wooden bus for Mr. Carl Brady of the Southside Schools"; the same year, Ward Body Works became one of the first school bus manufacturers to produce a school bus with an all-steel body. Following the era after World War II, Ward would become one of the largest manufacturers of school bus bodies in North America, employing up to 1200 workers at its peak.  During the 1960s, Ward was responsible for notable innovations including the use of computers in manufacturing (using IBM 360s), rollover testing, and various manufacturing process improvements.
During the 1970s, the company fell on hard times. In 1975, a newly opened production facility in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania was forced to close due to slowing sales. In 1976, Ward produced a prototype front-wheel drive transit-style school bus that did not enter production. In the late 1970s, as student populations declined, overall demand for school buses fell; the company filed for bankruptcy; the Ward plant was closed in July 1980.
To restore bus production in Arkansas, an investment group coordinated was formed with help by then-Governor Bill Clinton to purchase the assets of Ward Industries. While the Ward name would remain in place on the school buses themselves, the newly christened company was now American Transportation Corporation (AmTran). In 1991, one-third of AmTran was purchased by its largest chassis supplier, Navistar International. During 1992, the Ward name began to disappear from AmTran-bodied buses. In 1995, the remaining two-thirds of the company was purchased by Navistar, becoming the first body manufacturer to be acquired by a chassis supplier.
In 1999, AmTran announced plans to build a new facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma to build conventional buses. Rebranded from AmTran CS to International IC, the company would eventually adopt the IC name entirely in 2002.
2000-2009: Transition from AmTran to IC
In 2000, AmTran replaced its CS conventional school bus with the IC school bus. While still based on the long-running International 3800, the IC featured a larger windshield and redesigned drivers compartment. To distinguish it from other International-based school buses, the IC wore its own grille design and hood badging. An acronym standing for Integrated Coach (although "C" also interchanged with "chassis"), this model emphasized how Navistar produced nearly the entire vehicle (body, chassis, and engine) under a single corporate entity. After 2000, AmTran became International Truck and Bus, with the school buses being badged as Internationals. For 2002, International Truck and Bus was changed to IC Corporation. After a slight update, the IC bus became the IC CE, bringing its nomenclature in line with the FE and RE Type D buses.
For 2005, coinciding with the introduction of the International 3300, the first all-new conventional school bus chassis by International since 1979, IC updated the body of the CE with a modernized drivers compartment and a larger dashboard; a number of controls were integrated into the steering wheel. To streamline production, the roofcaps of the CE were added to the FE and RE-Series; the high-headroom version of the RE-Series became standard.
Unlike its competitors, IC and its Ward/AmTran predecessors owned relatively little market share outside of yellow school bus production; to expand into new markets, IC introduced two new product ranges for 2006. Based on a cutaway cab version of the International Durastar, the HC-Series was a range of shuttle buses while the LC-Series was a low-floor bus aimed at paratransit customers. To further reach into the school bus market, IC introduced the BE-Series, a low-GVWR version of the CE. While nearly based entirely on the CE-Series, the BE was designed as an alternative for buses based on cutaway vans; it was marketed towards operators transporting young children and special-needs students. Unlike van-based school buses, the BE was designed with a flat floor without rear wheelwells.
In April 2009, the company changed its name again, this time to IC Bus.
2010-present: Changes and updates
2010 was a year of major change, as IC would end production of its largest bus and introduce its smallest one. In April, as dealers announced its discontinuation, the FE product literature was removed from the IC Bus website. The FE was introduced in 1990 as the Ward Senator and re-released in 1992 as the AmTran Genesis. Since January 2011, IC only produces rear-engine transit-style buses (the RE-Series school bus and its commercial-use derivative). Also in 2010, the company introduced the AE-Series. A cutaway-cab bus based on the International TerraStar aimed directly at van based vehicles, the AE formed the basis for the first cutaway-cab school bus from IC. 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-Series.
For 2013, IC underwent changes to expand its customer base. To re-emphasize the ties to its parent company, IC Bus modified its branding. On the rear bumper, the IC shield logo was replaced with a Navistar script, And can also be seen forming the lower line of the IC Bus "wing" logo. 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 was slated for January 2014. 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.
For the fall of 2015 IC introduced a propane powered version of the CE Series it integrates the Allison 2500 transmission with FuelSense to maximize fuel economy. The new bus will be on display at the National Association for Pupil Transportation Summit in Kansas City, Missouri, this November. The PSI 8.8-liter engine has been specially engineered for the school bus market to provide diesel-like performance with higher torque at lower engine speeds.With a rating of 565 lb-ft at 1500 rpm, the engine’s design enhances stop-and-start applications to allow rapid acceleration after stops and greater hill-climbing capability, which PSI said improves both startability and gradability while minimizing the noise, heat and vibration associated with constant engine revving. The company added that minimal revving reduces engine wear, oil usage and maintenance as well.
2015 also saw the discontinuation of the AE and BE series, as well as the discontinuation of the MaxxForce engines options for the CE series. In late 2014 Navistar released a letter to dealers stating the AE and BE series discontinuation: "SUBJECT: Immediate Discontinuation of IC Bus AE and BE Series Models To: All US & CAN Based IC Bus Dealers. Effective immediately, all IC Bus AE and BE Series Models are discontinued. • AE Series: School and Commercial Derivative Bus • BE Series: School and Commercial Derivative Bus All firm orders currently in the system or under SQ process will be honored and delivered as per production schedule."
- Model designations
Prior to 2010, IC used the following nomenclature (on school buses) to designate the engine type; subsequently, only the model prefix has been used.
|Diesel Engine Configuration||BE-Series||CE-Series||FE-Series||RE-Series|
(i.e. T444E, VT365, MF7)
(i.e. DT466, MFDT)
|IC Bus Product Line (School Buses)|
|Model Name||Production Date||Assembly Location||Chassis Configuration/Vehicle Type||Seating Capacity||Notes|
|2010–2015||Tulsa, Oklahoma||Cutaway cab/chassis (International TerraStar)
|BE-Series||2006–2015||Tulsa, Oklahoma||Cowled chassis (International 3300LP)
|CE-Series||2001–present||Tulsa, Oklahoma||Cowled chassis
|FE-Series||1990-2010||Conway, Arkansas||Front-engine stripped chassis (International 3900FC)
|Rear-engine stripped chassis (International 3000)
|IC Bus Product Line (Commercial Buses)|
|Model Name||Production Date||Assembly Location||Chassis Configuration/Vehicle Type||Seating Capacity||Notes|
|LC-Series||2006-2014||Cutaway cab/chassis (International 3200)
|HC-Series||2006–present||Cutaway cab/chassis (International 3200)
Forward Advantage Prototype
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
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). Enova Systems has entered into a long-term supply agreement with IC Bus 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.
- 40' Concept Coach
- 45' Concept Coach
All IC Corporation/IC Bus vehicles are produced in the facility opened by AmTran in 1999. Prior to 2008, Type D models were produced in the Ward/AmTran facility in Conway, Arkansas.
On January 11, 2008, IC Corporation announced a layoff of about 300 employees at the Conway, Arkansas Bus Plant. 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.
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. "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."
On June 5, 2012, the Tulsa, Oklahoma IC Bus assembly plant produced its 100,000th vehicle. 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 when the plant first opened in 2001. "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.
- Arkansas' 'auto' plant still going strong after 75 years. - Free Online Library
- "Ward had idea and ran with it". Retrieved 26 October 2014.
- http://www.icbus.com/ICBus/Buses/School+Route/Feature/ci.School+Route+AE+Series.feature/ IC AE specifications website
- Plugin Hybrid Electric School Bus - Phase 4[dead link]
- Enova: Electric, Hybrid Electric, & Fuel Cell Drive Systems
- Green Car Congress: Enova Systems and IC Bus Execute Long Term Agreement For Hybrid School Buses
- Conway school-bus maker to lay off 300
- Topic Galleries - chicagotribune.com
- Navistar Celebrates 100,000th Bus Milestone (NYSE:NAV)