Chapter 9: Marcopolo Busesby John Veerkamp
In 1949 a company called Nicola & Cia started building wooden bus bodies on truck chassis in Caxias do Sul, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. A few years later the first metal bodies were turned out and by 1959 some 600 bodies had been delivered to Brazilian operators. In 1961, the first export took place, to Uruguay.
In 1968, at the São Paulo Motor Car Show, the "Marcopolo" model was presented. The success of the model was such that the company became known as Marcopolo. On August 28, 1971, the name was officially changed to "Marcopolo S.A. Carrocerias e Ônibus". The name was changed again to the simpler "Marcopolo SA" on April 27, 1992.
In 1970 Marcopolo took over local bus body builder "Carrocerias Eliziãrio", from Porto Alegre, and in 1977 "Nimbus" from Caxias do Sul. Export of CKD (completely knocked down) units for local assembly began during this decade to Venezuela, Ecuador, Chile, Peru, and Ghana. In 1981 a new plant in the Ana Rech district in Brazil was opened.
After the Marcopolo, new models were developed, such as the Marcopolo II, the Marcopolo III, the Urbano Veneza and the Marcopolo Junior, a minibus. In 1983 the Marcopolo Geração IV (Generation IV) was launched, which included the Viaggio and Paradiso long distance coaches, the Strada interurban coach, the Torino city bus and the Senior midi bus.
In 1992 the Marcopolo line was again modernized: the Geração V (Generation V) is created, again with the standard highway coach called the Viaggio (with models GV850, GV1000 and GV1150) and the luxury Paradiso (with models GV1150 and GV1450). A new interurban model was the Allegro. The popularity of the Marcopolo coaches increased considerably, both in Brazil and abroad.
In 1995 the bi-articulated Torino and the low-entry Torino city buses are launched. The bi-articulated bus is specially developed for high-platform separate high-capacity bus lanes that have become popular in Brazil over the last decade. New versions of the Paradiso were the DD1800 double decker and the LD with a low driving position. In 1998 the Volare microbus was introduced, built on a Marcopolo developed chassis. A new urban bus was the Viale.
The new "Generation 6" was presented for the year 2000. The models are completely redesigned and have an attractive and modern look. Again, various models are offered, retaining the same "Viaggio" and "Paradiso" names, though those are not mentioned as prominently anymore on the coaches themselves. The "Viaggio 1050" is the basic model. The Paradiso is offered as the 1200, 1200HD, 1350, 1550LD, and 1800DD.
Latest development on the bus front in Brazil were the introduction of the low-floor Viale and an experimental Hybrid Viale.
Export has become more and more important during the 1990's. Marcopolo buses and coaches can be found all over South America and Central America, with especially the Viaggio being popular as a long distance coach. But in addition to entering the markets on its own continent, Marcopolo has pursued and active expansion policy worldwide. In 1991 a factory was opened in Coimbra, Portugal, "Marcopolo Indústria de Carrocerias S.A." In addition to the Viaggio, other models for the European and African market are produced, such as the Tricana and Caribe. While the buses are mainly sold in Portugal, the coaches have been introduced to markets such as the Netherlands and Great Britain. New versions of the Viaggio have been presented in continental Europe, called the Viaggio G II (Generation II) while in Great Britain the coach model is called the Explorer II.
In 1992, export of CKD units to Mexico began, with Dina adopting the Viaggio as their luxury coach model. After the MCI-Dina merger in 1994, the Dina Viaggio was marketed in the United States by MCI. In 1998 "Marcopolo Latinoamérica" was inaugurated, based at Rio Cuarto, Córdoba Province, Argentina. Also in the 1990's, increased export to South Africa lead to the establishment of a representation in Pietersburg, South Africa. Currently, Marcopolo is entering into the Far-East markets.
The Brazilian buses and coaches are built on Volvo, Mercedes Benz, Scania and Volkswagen chassis. In Mexico the Marcopolo body is mounted on Dina chassis. In Europe, several other chassis have been used in addition to Volvo, Scania and Mercedes, such as the Dennis Javelin, IVECO and MAN.