Weeks after announcing its new SafeGuard XChange seat that eases the ability of operators to add lap/shoulder belt systems to an existing standard seat, IMMI said the product will be available for order on Thomas school buses by this coming fall.
The company said the XChange will be manufactured at the IMMI facility that opened last summer in High Point, N.C., near the Thomas Built school bus plant. While IMMI will continue to manufacture SafeGuard seating components at its headquarters in Westfield, Ind., final assembly of the company’s new line of products will undergo final assembly in North Carolina.
At this writing, the XChange was completing final compliance testing, a company statement noted, and the seat was expected to to be installed on a Thomas C2e Hybrid and on display this summer at industry events. IMMI said the bus will demonstrate how seat modules can be exchanged to add or configure lap/shoulder belts as future school district requirements or state laws on school bus seat belts may change over time.
Ken Hedgecock, vice president of sales, marketing and service for Thomas, said the partnership is important to both companies in preparing to offer seating that insulates school districts and contractors from future shifts in regulations and practices.
“No matter what kind of school bus buyer you are, fleet versatility makes your job easier,” Hedgecock said. “Whether you’re a school transportation director who expects a future local demand for belted seating, or you are a contractor anticipating the need to relocate buses, you need meaningful seating options that work now, as well as 10 years from now.”
“Through our long-standing partnership with Thomas, we have had many opportunities to sit down with customers and truly understand their needs related to seating,” added James Johnson, vice president of sales at IMMI. “Following on the heels of industry-leading developments like FlexSeat and SmartFrame, XChange is a practical breakthrough that offers a whole new solution for managing school bus fleets more effectively.”
Last month, Johnson called the XChange a “future-proof”solution to school bus occupant restraint needs.