MCI overall was a solid 2nd place. Response times were not quite as spot on as Prevost but still far ahead of Van Hool. Per mile depreciation costs were behind Prevost and Van Hool but that could be due to a softer used market due to the number of units MCI sells. MCI sells far many more coaches than either of the other two manufacturers which should allow for greater availability of parts when necessary. Though MCI used to follow a full 24/7 support policy with troubleshooting and parts ordering it is now restricted to business hours between Monday and Friday. After hours and weekends now are a 3rd party road side assist which does help but in a limited amount compared to Prevost’s policies and MCI previous support policies. All 3 coach companies have room to improve and differentiate themselves with after-sales service.
Initial Price – MCI had the lowest initial price of the three coach manufacturers. This makes the coach more affordable up front with lower initial payments. They also have the lowest parts pricing but unfortunately also the lowest return when disposing of the bus through a sale.
Parts and Service – MCI has an online parts ordering system and it is slightly more user friendly than the Prevost but similarly to Prevost MCI has much room for improvement. Compared to online parts systems from Autozone, O’Reilly or John Deere the MCI system is not terribly intuitive to use or navigate. Unlike Prevost it took a little convincing of the need to examine their online system before becoming a client but it was finally given. Access to the system was granted before Van Hool responded with parts pricing via the Van Hool manual e-mail method. MCI had the lowest cost of parts by nearly 20% over its competitors over a 6-year assumption. Depending on the length of ownership this can be an even bigger advantage to MCI regarding overall per mile operational costs but for the purpose of this evaluation every manufacturer was evaluated on a 6-year parts assumption. Until recently Prevost had the best support with after hours and weekend support but since they discontinued that practice all three companies including MCI seem to be on par with each other. Roadside assistance to the next town and support between normal business hours is now the new norm among all of the companies.
Disposition/Sale of the Asset – This was the weakness in the MCI offering. Despite a lower initial cost and lower parts pricing MCI had the second highest per mile cost at $0.74 mostly because of a lower resale price. Whether this is a function of problems with the MCI or the fact that they own a larger market share and thus less exclusivity upon resale is unclear.
Intangibles – MCI was the first company to use the spiral staircase on its Renaissance model for the entry and it was immediately imitated by the other manufacturers. MCI has continued with its style leadership with a very handsome design that seems to be well liked among coach operators and tour operators as well. The availability and attitude of the company as a whole or the coach a company’s drivers prefer to operate all factor into an overall ownership experience. There are many examples of products that may have the lowest cost of ownership but fail to provide a satisfactory ownership experience. Response times whether in the initial ordering stages or in the post-sale servicing stages can factor heavily into this equation. Response times to downtime on the road also can significantly affect profitability of coach ownership as well as the general ownership as a whole. MCI had to be slightly prodded to provide information at times and a bit behind Prevost in that regard but was quite a bit more timely and responsive than Van Hool.
Decent sales response time. Overall good communication. Not quite as good as Prevost in the sales process but still acceptable. Industry leader in number of coaches sold. Lots of coaches means lots of spare parts and good parts availability.
Large number of coaches tends to make the brand less exclusive and seems lowers the resale value somewhat as being too common. Each of the coach companies needs to reconsider their parts ordering system along the lines of Autozone or O'Reillys. Also took some prodding to get access to the parts system because I wasn't a "current" customer.