TBILISI, Georgia - Ford has handled over the first of 3,000 Transit minibuses ordered by the public transport authority of Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. Some 1,200 vehicles will be delivered by the end of this year, with the remainder by the end of 2012.
The production and delivery of the first batch of 16+1 seater 430E M2 Transit Buses, equipped with roof mounted air conditioning units, was a joint effort by Ford of Europe’s EDM (European Direct Market) organisation, the Ford-Otosan factory in Turkey and the local Georgian team.
The order resulted from a successful tender process by Ford’s Georgian importer - GT Motors.
Relative to the size of the Georgian auto market (2,500 units in 2010), the order is very substantial. It is hoped that Ford’s success will lead to further fleet orders in the large cities of Georgia and in neighbouring countries.
Historically in the Caucasian region – as in many countries of the former Soviet Union - public transport is provided by 15-20 seat minibuses known as Marsrutkas. That is because the number of people using public transport is small, especially in suburbs and ‘dormitory’ districts, and larger coaches would be inappropriate. Additionally, in Georgia large vehicles cannot be used in the narrow roads of Tbilisi’s old town and in mountain areas.
Georgia stretches over 67,200 km2 and has 4.6 million inhabitants. Nominal GDP per capita is €2,658.