Iveco, the commercial vehicle unit of Fiat Group, expects to see explosive growth in the Chinese bus market as China’s population continues to migrate from rural areas to China’s cities.

Speaking at the launch of Iveco’s new Stralis model range in Turin yesterday, Iveco’s CEO, Michel de Lambert, pointed out that China is already the biggest national bus market in the world, with annual sales of 50,000 to 60,000 units.

He said that the market is ‘growing constantly, because of the shift of the rural population towards the towns’. He added that in the next 5 years, between 200 and 300 million people are expected to move from the country to urban areas.

He also believes that the need to renew the nation’s bus fleet with cleaner emission vehicles will also help to propel the market.

Iveco has recently created a joint venture in China to produce and market buses with CBC (Changzhou Bus Company). The collaboration involves $40 million investment from Iveco and will result in the production of three new ranges of buses (minibus, town buses and coaches).

The new ranges will be equipped with chassis, engines and mechanical components developed by Iveco.

Changzhou, a municipal company, manufactured 5,600 town buses and coaches in 2000, with a market share of 16% and third place in the Chinese market.