A CUTAWAY IN NAME ONLY
A cutaway chassis is an incomplete vehicle when it rolls off the assembly line from its respective OEM. The expectation is that some form of modification or "upfit" will be furnished to complete the cutaway and make it road-worthy.
Purpose Built Low Floor Frontrunner Chassis
Cutaways are largely manufactured to carry cargo not people. The expectation is that some form of box whether it be for cargo, electrical or plumbing supplies, landscaping, or other "work truck type" upfits will complete its road-worthiness. A cutaway was not engineered or designed by its OEM to be a bus for people. As such, the suspension of an OEM cutaway is characterized by a suspension system intended to carry the majority of its cargo weight over the rear axle. This is why the suspension designs of a cutaway feature long heavy duty leaf springs designed for weight bearing over the rear axle, not for ride comfort.
For those that build buses on a cutaway chassis leaving the OEM suspension largely intact, compromises in the design particularly in a low floor design and the resulting poor ride quality are synonymous with this design approach. Typical cutaway designs require the addition of three to four steps to achieve entrance to the floor of a bus that sits on top of the cutaway frame rails. For accessibility, a wheelchair lift is typically placed in the rear of the bus or on the curb side. Ironically, for those with mobility challenges this design places the most vulnerable to ride quality directly over the rear axle where the ride quality is the poorest due to the bouncy ride associated with heavy-duty elongated leaf springs.
Patented Composite Body Structure
While wheelchair lifts have played an important role in overall accessibility since their introduction, they suffer from a lack of innovation, excessive space requirements, reliability, and the lack of dignity for those that need to be hoisted as much as three to four feet from the ground. This is particularly unnerving for those not confined to a wheelchair but lacking the dexterity to scale a set of steps. These passengers that typically utilize a walker are forced to bear the indignity of standing on a wheelchair lift staring down to the ground below.
A heavy tubular steel roof cage is typically constructed to the frame rails and skinned with either aluminum or some form of FRP. The bouncy rattle prone ride of a typical cutaway has been the industry standard for decades and many of these designs have not substantially changed in decades as well.
Rust and premature corrosion are often associated with these designs despite the industry standard of “undercoating” which has proven ineffective against protecting against corrosion of the steel chassis and structure as well as preventing the wood sub-floor from rotting also typically found in these dated designs.
The Frontrunner’s composite body structure represents a fundamental shift from tubular steel construction forming the essence of the Frontrunner’s lightweight, fuel efficient, yet durable structure. Proven in the field with hundreds of Frontrunners already in service, the Frontrunner truly represents the next generation in low floor bus technology, design, and manufacturing.