EVM opens dedicated PSVAR conversion facility

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Coachbuilder EVM has grown further with the opening of a PSVAR conversion centre in West Sussex. Peter Jackson reports

Cast your mind back to November last year, and you may remember the news that EVM was to begin converting both first and second-generation Mercedes-Benz Tourismo coaches to PSVAR specification.

Since that news broke, the team at EVM has been busy developing an in-house conversion kit for the German coach that’s as close as possible to the factory-fit option. Said Production Director Ivor Jones: “Weeks and possibly months of time have been invested to achieve the safety, quality and factory finish operators would expect to see on their Mercedes-Benz coaches.”

With the development phase completed, EVM has now opened a dedicated PSVAR conversion facility in West Sussex, which will work alongside its factory in Ireland to boost capacity. More on that later, though – let’s first examine the conversion kit itself.

Door and windows

The additional side door for the wheelchair lift is made from alloy steel, chosen for its strength and light weight. Besides being resistant to corrosion, the door’s relatively low weight ensures the vehicle’s centre of gravity remains unaltered.

Meanwhile, the carbon steel door aperture is welded to the OEM structure, which EVM says will ‘guarantee resistance over time without compromising the strength of the original coach body structure.’

Thinking ahead yet again, the manufacturer has opted for stainless steel door hinges to avoid any future rust issues. The door lock mechanism consists of two safety locks – one at the top and one at the bottom of the door – which, besides being safer than just the one, ensures a good water seal and noise insulation, says EVM.

Another notable safety feature is the fitment of a buzzer, which warns the driver if the door isn’t closed correctly.

The door is linked to the vehicle’s central locking system and can only be opened from outside; EVM has deliberately not fitted an inside handle, citing the potential danger of a passenger opening it by accident while the vehicle is in motion.

The conversion uses windows which, says EVM, have been designed to match the OEM ones in terms of transparency and thermal conductivity. Even the colour matches the originals, the company says; three different types of window are offered to match the OEM tints originally offered by Evobus.

Wheelchair lift

EVM has chosen a PLS Mega Lift for its conversions. Located in the luggage compartment, the lift has been positioned as low as possible to ensure the vehicle’s centre of gravity remains unaltered.

A bespoke frame has been designed to house the lift, which is then fixed directly to the vehicle’s original structure.

The OEM side locker door remains in place, but receives a subtle modification. What’s described as a ‘sealed flap’ is added, protecting against water ingress.


As with all PSVAR conversions, the seats positioned by the newly-installed door have to be easily removeable to accommodate wheelchair passengers. This hasn’t been overlooked in EVM’s Tourismo conversion; the two double seats nearest the door are fitted on NMI Millennium quick release fittings and recessed floor tracking, supported underfloor by a bespoke additional structure which has been developed and tested by the coachbuilder to R80 pull test and Regulation 107 bus certification.

Destination displays

Hannover Displays supplies the info panels for EVM’s conversions, which it says were chosen for their reliability. The company added that the installation of the panels has ‘no negative impact’ on the remainder of the OEM electrical system.

All in the details

EVM cleans, degreases and treats all of the relevant metal structures to protect against corrosion, and it says the repainting process is ‘in accordance with the highest automotive standards.’

Each vehicle converted receives an internal re-trim around the affected area, with the materials and colours being selected carefully to match the originals.

The manufacturer added that the heating system is re-engineered on the side where the door is fitted, and the parts used are OEM where possible.

On completion, EVM completes a pre-delivery inspection. The findings are recorded and stored in the company’s database for traceability, in accordance with the ISO quality standard. Each vehicle is returned to its owner with a PSVA1 Accessibility Certificate from the DVSA.

The new facility

EVM’s new West Sussex conversion centre, opened last Tuesday, was previously used by the firm as a warehouse. Based in Horsham, the building has undergone a transformation into a fully kitted-out fabrication workshop.

A team of six staff received factory training over the weeks leading up to the opening of the new facility, with quality being monitored by EVM’s Engineering Director Cosimo Facecchia.

Guy Billings will be responsible for covering orders from the south, while Matt Thompson will oversee the north. Both say they are ‘really pleased’ with the feedback they’ve so far received from customers following the delivery of the first vehicles.

EVM believes it is well-placed to make its mark on the PSVAR conversion segment, and says that despite the development of the conversion taking longer than planned, it’s satisfied with the end result. “It’s not just about cutting a hole in the side of a coach and fitting a lift and door,” said EVM Managing Director Danny McGee.

“Behind the scenes, we have to support a product liability insurance policy of £10m should the worst ever happen and something goes wrong with the conversion which causes injury or fatality. Not something a customer should consider, but important if it is ever required!”

Operators interested in finding out more about EVM’s conversions can call the main number 0845 5205160, Guy Billings on 07736635959 ([email protected]) or Matt Thompson on 07860958233 ([email protected])