IC Bus

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IC Bus
Type Subsidiary of Navistar International
Industry Manufacturing (Transportation)
Founded 2002 (as IC Corporation)
Headquarters 2601 Navistar Dr
Lisle, Illinois 60532
Number of locations


Area served North America
Key people John McKinney, President
Parent Navistar International
Website ICBus.com

IC Bus is a bus manufacturer located in the United States headquartered in Lisle, Illinois. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Navistar International Corporation. IC specializes in school buses, multi-function school activity buses (MFSABs), shuttle buses, and commercial transit buses derived from their school bus designs.

IC Bus was established in 2002, as Navistar reorganized its subsidiary bus manufacturer American Transportation Corporation (AmTran). The company traces its roots back to the 1933 founding of Ward Body Works in Conway, Arkansas.

IC is an abbreviation of Integrated Coach, which alludes to that the bus body, chassis, and engine are all produced within a single corporate structure. As IC is a Navistar company, all buses are produced with Navistar (International) chassis; all bodies are produced at the IC manufacturing facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma.


Ward Body Works (1933-1979)[edit]

Main article: Ward Body Works
Ward President school bus (mid-1980s)

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.[1]

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]

Main article: AmTran
International RE (2002 model)

In 1979, Ward Industries filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.[2] Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton was instrumental in forming a business group that purchased 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. Due to market recognition, the Ward name was still reserved for school buses while the AmTran name began to appear on non-school vehicles.

In 1983, a controlling interest of AmTran was purchased by Harmon Brothers, a Midwest school bus contractor and bus distributor; the company owned one the largest fleets of Ward/AmTran buses in the country. In 1991, one-third of AmTran was purchased by Navistar International, with the option to purchase the rest of the company in 1995, which was done.[2] By the end of 1992, the Ward name had disappeared from the school bus product line, replaced by AmTran product lines.

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

With AmTran 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.


2005-present IC CE

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.

Product Changes[edit]

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. For 2006, the CE was joined by the first entry by the company into the smaller bus market, the BE-Series. While based nearly entirely on the CE, the BE was marketed towards operators who transported young children and special-needs students as an alternative to buses based on cutaway vans. In the BE, a flat floor without rear wheelwells was standard.

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

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). In late October 2010, the company introduced the AE-Series,[3] 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-Series.[4]

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.[5] 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.[5]

Production beyond school buses[edit]

In 2006, IC Corporation expanded its product range into the commercial bus market. Along with products based on its school buses, the company developed dedicated products (HC-Series) using the International DuraStar as a donor chassis. The DuraStar also served as the basis as a low-floor conventional bus (LC-Series). Following the introduction of the International TerraStar in 2010, IC bus introduced the AC-Series as a competitor to van-based cutaway buses.


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.

  • 200=V8 diesel engine (i.e., T444E, VT365, and MaxxForce 7)
  • 300=inline-6 diesel engine (i.e., DT466, Maxxforce DT)
IC Bus School Bus Product Line
Model Name AE-Series BE-Series CE-Series RE-Series FE-Series (discontinued)
Photo An IC BE school bus in Federal Way, Washington. IC CE300IC CE-Series in Illinois IC RE IC FE300
Year Introduced 2010 2006

3800: 2001

3300: 2005

1996 1990
Assembly Tulsa, Oklahoma Tulsa, Oklahoma Tulsa, Oklahoma Conway, Arkansas
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Conway, Arkansas

Type A

  • dual rear wheel

Type B

  • cowled chassis

Type C

  • cowled chassis

Type D

  • rear engine

Type D

  • front engine
Chassis Manufacturer Navistar International Navistar International Navistar International Navistar International Navistar International
Powertrain MaxxForce 7
  • 3800
  • 3300
  • VT365 (2006–2008)
  • MaxxForce 7 (2008-present)
  • DT466E (2005-2007)
  • MaxxForce DT (2008-present)
  • T444E (2001–2004)
  • DT466E (2001–2008)
  • VT365 (2005–2008)
  • MaxxForce DT (2008–present)
  • MaxxForce 9 (RC-Series only; discontinued)
  • DT466E (2001–2008)
  • MaxxForce DT (2008–2010)
Passenger Capacity 36 14-30 29-77 66-90 54-90
Other Notes
  • The AE is the first Type A (cutaway configuration) bus from IC Bus.
  • The AE has a standard flat-floor interior[4]
  • 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.
  • The CE-Series was introduced in 2001 (based on the International 3800) and is currently in its second generation (based on the International Durastar/3300.
  • The CE is the basis for a diesel-electric hybrid option.
    • Charge-sustaining and charge-depleting hybrid configurations are offered.
  • 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
  • The IC FE was introduced in 1990 as the Ward Senator with gradual updates (1992, 1995, 1998, 2005, 2008).
  • In April 2010, IC Bus removed the IC FE product literature from its website as dealers announced its discontinuation.
IC Bus Commercial Bus Product Lines
Model Name Production Configuration Chassis Powertrain Notes
2006-present Low-floor shuttle bus Navistar International MaxxForce 7
  • The LC-Series is a low-floor ADA-compliant shuttle bus based on the International DuraStar cutaway cab.
2006-present 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)

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).[6] Enova Systems[7] has entered into a long-term supply agreement with IC Bus[8] 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.[9]

Motorcoach prototypes[edit]

  • 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.[10] 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.[11] "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."[12]

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.[13]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]