Plug-in bus developer to expand in Livonia

by Sven Gustafson Oakland Business Review

A Troy-based company that has developed a plug-in hybrid electric transit bus will move forward on plans for a $7 million manufacturing facility in Livonia after winning approval of state tax credits Monday.
Fisher Coachworks LLC was one of 16 companies and four brownfield redevelopment projects approved for tax incentives today by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. Four of the companies were approved for projects in Oakland County.

Fisher received a tax credit valued at $11.3 million to establish manufacturing operations for its ultra-lightweight plug-in bus. The company hopes to begin limited production about a year from now, pending approval of federal certification testing, said John Van Alstyne, vice president of marketing.

"There's a couple of properties that we're looking at that we're in the final negotiating stages on," he said, adding that officials expect to finalize the location within 30 days.

The company has developed a 40-foot transit bus with a nitrogen-strengthened stainless steel unibody and chassis and a diesel-electric hybrid powertrain. The vehicle reportedly weighs half as much as conventional transit buses and boasts twice the fuel economy.

The company told the state it expects to create 539 new jobs at the manufacturing facility, and Van Alstyne said it plans to begin hiring "almost immediately." The company last week closed out on its second round of equity financing, a notable achievement given the problems many companies are having finding financing.

"We're making good progress here, we're quite happy," Van Alstyne said.

The company eventually plans to centralize all operations in the new Livonia facility, he said.


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