Half of the 81-seater buses will be fully open-top and the rest will be of a half-top design.
Twenty sight-seeing open-top double decker buses, built by Chinese manufacturer Anhui Ankai Automobile, are to be delivered to Big Bus Tours in early 2012. The operator and manufacturer have been in a working relationship since Ankai first delivered buses to Big Bus Tours for operation in Dubai in 2007.
Big Bus Tours operates a combined fleet of over 300 sightseeing buses worldwide, with Ankai vehicles incorporated into services in cities including Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Philadelphia.
The 81-seater buses will be equipped with Cummins Euro 5 engines, Voith gearboxes, and ZF axles. Half of the delivery will be fully open-top and the remaining 10 will be of a half-top design. A prototype vehicle has already been manufactured by Ankai, and has been inspected by VOSA in relation to the intended IVA certification for UK operation.
Big Bus Tours’ group engineering director, Gerry Price, said: “Our relationship with Ankai has gone from strength to strength over the last four years, as have the products developed through that relationship.”
“Ankai has risen to the challenge of a demanding business that operates under many differing sets of legislation in respect of vehicle build, and this latest product for London is a step up in terms of both quality levels attained and engineering performance delivered.”
The prototype vehicle will arrive in January 2012 with the other 19 buses arriving in time to be deployed for the start of the summer.
Big Bus Tours received six Optare Visionaire open top buses based on Volvo tri-axle chassis for use on its central London tour routes from Optare last March. This brought the total number of Optare Visionaires in the Big Bus Tours fleet to 26.
Ankai manufactures large and medium size coaches, buses and chassis, ranging from the standard offering and also serving the luxury end of the market. It was established in 1997 and listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange. In 2003, the company was merged successfully with Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group, which remains Ankai’s largest shareholder with 20.92% of its share.