Mini buses, limo buses and coaches are expected to be in high demand by specialty vehicle buyers in 2014, according to a new survey by GE Capital, Commercial Distribution Finance (CDF). CDF is a major provider of financing for manufacturers and dealers of specialty vehicles including buses, mobility vans, emergency vehicles and more.
One-third of survey respondents said the mini bus would be the most popular type of transportation for buyers in this segment in 2014, followed by the limo bus at 25 percent and motorcoach at 15 percent.
“Buses are in demand now — a trend that came through at the recent International Limousine, Charter and Tour tradeshow and again in our survey results,” said Tim Hyland, president of the recreational and specialty vehicle group at CDF. “Bus and coach sales are up slightly over the last couple of years, according to National Bus Trader, and the industry seems to be moving toward the versatility that buses provide.”
Survey respondents were overwhelmingly upbeat about the sales outlook, with 40 percent expecting growth of 5 percent to 10 percent, and 35 percent expecting 10 percent to 15 percent growth. Twenty-one percent are expecting growth of 15 percent or more. No respondents expect a decline in sales.Other reasons for optimism were product availability and affordability, while growth of smart phone “hailing” apps was cited as a business concern. In addition, there’s lingering concern about consumer demand. “While the survey points to optimism in regard to sales and, in turn, consumer demand, consumer confidence is still a factor,” said Hyland. “The economy drives demand, and uncertainty remains in regard to the overall economic direction of the U.S.” GE Capital has provided the specialty vehicles industry with flexible inventory financing for 20 years. Inventory financing, also known as floorplan financing, allows dealers to stock, market and sell a wide variety of products from manufacturers.