GNE spends £3.5m on Optares

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Following an extensive 10-week trial of Optare’s 11.7m Versa model and good experience over many years with the Solo model, Go North East has ordered 26 new vehicles from the Yorkshire bus builder.

Optare is to supply 14 Versas and 12 Solo SRs for use in Tyne and Wear and County Durham in an investment of £3.5m. Versa deliveries will start in October with the Solos to follow in November.

The new 11.7 model Versas are powered by the Cummins ISBe engine to the Euro 5 EEV standard. This six-cylinder engine delivers 150 kW (201bhp) at 2500 rpm and 700 Nm of torque giving it a good level of performance for the tough route conditions without compromising on fuel efficiency.

Go North East has set a high specification for their new Versas with driver comfort receiving particular attention. A Chapman MK250 driver’s seat has been specified, which incorporates a head rest and lumbar support and the driver’s compartment is to have Denso air conditioning and a full protection screen.

The 12 Solo SRs are the 9.0m version powered by the Mercedes- Benz OM904LA engine. The fourcylinder engine delivers 154bhp (115 kW) of power and 610 Nm of torque and, like the Versas, is matched to an Allison 2100 Series five-speed automatic transmission.

Passengers on both the Versas and the Solo SRs will be seated on Esteban Civic V2 seats. The Versas are fitted with 37 fixed seats plus six tip-ups, three each in the wheelchair and buggy spaces located on each side of the saloon immediately to the rear of the front wheelboxes. Inclusive of standees, the Versas are capable of achieving a total carrying capacity of up to 62. The Solos will carry up to 49 passengers and have 23 fixed seats with three tip-ups in each of the wheelchair and buggy bays. Both models carry a fold-out manual ramp.

Chris Wise, Commercial Director at Optare, said: “It’s particularly rewarding to win this business off the back of extensive testing of the 11.7m Versa model in demanding operating conditions and against a background of good experience, not only from these trials but also from over two years of operating Versas and even longer with the Solos.

“The exceptional fuel efficiency that the 11.7 metre Versa delivered during the trials is a direct result of the low weight of the bus, which unladen is 7,820 kilos, and the Solo has long enjoyed a well deserved reputation for fuel economy.”