IC Corp. [formerly AmTran (American Transportation Corp.)] is a bus manufacturer in the United States. The company was established in 2002 as a re-branding of American Transportation Corporation (AmTran). IC Bus traces its roots back to Ward Body Works, which was established in 1933. The company specializes in school buses, multi-function school activity buses (MFSABs), shuttle buses, and commercial transit buses derived from their school bus designs.
IC is an abbreviation of IntegratedCoach, which alludes to the fact that body, chassis, and engine are all produced within a single corporate structure. All bus bodies are manufactured with anInternational chassis, as it is a wholly owned subsidiary ofNavistar International Corporation.
Ward Body Works (1933-1979)
1980s Ward President school bus
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.
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)
2002 International RE
In 1979, Ward Industries filed forChapter 11 bankruptcy. Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton was instrumental in putting together a business group that bought 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. However, the buses were still marketed with the “Ward” brand name throughout the 1980s, until 1992. A competitive situation with five similar bus body manufacturers continued to create extreme competitive pressure in a declining market as the combined factors of the aging baby boomer generation and federal court-ordered busing plans reduced the demand for new school bus bodies. In 1983, Harmon Brothers, a mid-western based school bus contractor, one of the larger owners of existing Ward fleets and a large dealership, purchased controlling interest of AmTran. In 1991, Navistar International, the country’s leading school bus chassis manufacturer at the time, purchased one-third interest in AmTran Corporation under the relaxed enforcement environment of some of the U.S. anti-trust laws in the era of the new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) laws and the Reagan Administration. The action was initiated by Jerry Williams, AmTran’s CEO. Navistar also obtained an option to allow them to buy remaining two-thirds stock by April 1995. An era of mergers and acquisitions among chassis and bus body manufacturers was thus begun. In early 1992, AmTran ended its use of the Ward brand name on school buses; many Ward product lines continued in production under the AmTran brand name. Navistar exercised the option on remaining American Transportation Corporation stock and completed the purchase in 1995. In 1996, AmTran ended Type A school bus production to concentrate on full-size school buses, becoming the first major manufacturer to produce full-size buses exclusively.
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
As AmTran was now 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.
IC Corporation/IC Bus (2002-present)
First Students IC Corporation/IC Bus CE-Series
In 2000, AmTran introduced the IC, a fully integrated conventional school bus. The first models were badged “AmTran”, although within a short time, the buses were badged “International” with the company taking on the identity “International Truck and Bus” from late 2000 to 2001 model years. For 2002, the company’s name changed yet again to IC Corporation and the new conventional bus was re-introduced as the IC CE.
- End of Conway Bus Production
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.
In April 2009, IC Corporation changed its name once again, this time to IC Bus.
On November 5, 2009, IC Bus announced that its Conway plant will 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.” 
- Product Changes
The IC FE product literature was removed from the IC Bus website in early April 2010, as IC dealers started to announce its discontinuation. Roots of this bus can be traced back to 1990, when the Ward Senator was released. In late 1992 it became the AmTran Genesis. As of 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, 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 TerraStarchassis; the AE also features the same interior width and height as the BE and CE.
- Model Designations
Prior to 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)
|[hide]IC Bus Product Lines|
Shuttle bus (AC-Series)
|Navistar International||MaxxForce 7|
|2001-present||School bus/MFSAB||Navistar International|
Commercial bus (RC-Series)
|LC-Series||Low-floor shuttle bus||Navistar International||MaxxForce 7|
|FE-Series (discontinued)||2001-2010||School bus||Navistar International|
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 currently offers hybrid diesel-electric powertrains in the CE conventional school bus as an option. The buses provide approximately 40% 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
- AmTran – corporate predecessor
- Navistar International – parent company
- ^ a b chttp://www.thefreelibrary.com/Arkansas’+’auto’+plant+still+going+strong+after+75+years.-a0181301714
- ^ Conway school-bus maker to lay off 300
- ^ http://www.kfor.com/news/sns-bc-ar–busplant-jobs,0,4627797.story
- ^http://www.icbus.com/ICBus/Buses/School+Route/Overview/School+Route+AE+Series/IC AE website
- ^ a bhttp://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
- ^ Enova: Electric, Hybrid Electric, & Fuel Cell Drive Systems