Innovation in Technology and Transport reconnects the industry

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Wednesday 30 May saw the debut of the ITT Hub event at Farnborough International. Richard Sharman and Jonathan Welch were in attendance

It is a brave new world that we are now living in, and that new world needed a new event which would break the rules of a traditional trade show and try something new. That gamble paid off and over 150 exhibitors attended the new ITT Hub event over two days at Farnborough International in Hampshire. The combination of the event being both indoor and outdoor worked well and ITT Hub was able to utilise the huge space that Farnborough International has to offer. Below is a selection of what there was to see at the show, which is already scheduled to return on 11-12 May 2022.
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[/wlm_nonmember] [wlm_ismember] Alexander Dennis

Alexander Dennis (ADL) had a number of vehicles on its own stand and elsewhere at the show, including the bright yellow and green Enviro400ER hybrid for Ireland’s NTA, which is capable of up to three miles in zero-emission mode, along with an accessible Panther coach and a high-specification 85-seat, 11.5m Enviro400 double-decker. Richard Matthew, ADL’s Sales Director, explained: “We are on a journey to zero emissions, ‘Leading the ZEvolution’ as we call it. Today is about reconnecting with the industry and with our customers. We’ve brought a selection of vehicles to reflect our offering. The high-specification Enviro400 has been very popular, we sell a lot of those to high-end operators. And we have the PSVAR-specification 53-seat Panther with toilet, which is available right now from stock. We’re proud to be built in Britain and are highlighting our heritage. We’ll have our hydrogen demonstrators available next year.”

Commenting on the debut event, he added: “We think it was the right decision to come to the event, it feels like the opening up of business again. We’ve seen lots of familiar faces.”

ADL also had a Plaxton Panther PSVAR-ready coach on display, which it is able to supply from stock. JONATHAN WELCH
ADL had a number of products on display on its own stand and others, including an Enviro400 ER for Ireland’s NTA. RICHARD SHARMAN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BYD

BYD’s stand had an ADL-bodied double-decker for London on display, as well as some of the marque’s electric forklift trucks. UK Managing Director Frank Thorpe said he was pleased with the turn-out at the show, having been – like a lot of attendees – apprehensive beforehand. “The bus side of the business has been very good,” he said. “We’ve had a fantastic run, with over 500 buses on the road so far and over 500 on order. We expect to reach the 1,000 milestone next year. That’s remarkable considering we started in 2016. I think the reason we are where we are is because we have reliable, proven technology. It’s vital that it works. Each bus has to go out and do a day’s work. The validation is that we have repeat orders. That says it must be reliable. BYD is a mature business in the new energy sector. The vehicle we have here is the first of an order for 196. I’m confident that we will deliver them and they will go into service. It’s all become very routine. It wasn’t long ago that people were saying an electric double-decker couldn’t be done. But we’ve come to realise that bus operations really lend themselves to zero emissions technology. What we thought were barriers – the range, the infrastructure – haven’t materialised.”

Frank added that there are two challenges as the industry moves forwards: the physical one, of installing infrastructure, and reducing charging time, and the potentially more problematic commercial challenge of how to fund and package the change to EVs.

Frank Thorpe, BYD’s UK Managing Director, in front of the first of its latest batch of buses for London. JONATHAN WELCH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CaetanoBus

Caetano’s H2.City Gold demonstrator, which has been demonstrated in many areas of the UK in recent months, was on display at the show. The hydrogen fuel cell bus is powered by a Siemens electric motor and is fitted with a Toyota fuel cell. The dual-doored single-decker has a range of up to 250 miles (400km).

The H2.City Gold at ITT Hub has been around the country on demonstration duties over the last few months. RICHARD SHARMAN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dawsongroup

Leasing specialists Dawsongroup had four vehicles on show, including the latest PSVAR-ready Panther from Plaxton, reflecting the soaring demand for such vehicles, and a Ford Transit-based minibus, which is soon to be available with an automatic gearbox for the very first time. “We’ve done well this year. We’re trying to get back to normality,” said Service Delivery Manager Anton Chiu-Foon. “We’re here to show what we offer, it’s nice to be back out meeting so many people. It’s good to get the community back and conversations started again.”
The Ford Transit minibus with automatic gearbox is something customers have been looking for for a long time, Anton added.

Dawsongroup brought along a number
of vehicles, including a Plaxton Panther and Ford Transit minibus.
JONATHAN WELCH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EVM Direct

Crawley-based EVM Direct had four of its own conversions on display on its stand, with an Altas Viator in the outside display area. Particular interest was being shown in the battery-driven E-Cityline low-floor Sprinter which has 115kW/h of battery storage and a SORT tested range of over 200km. The 150kW motor delivers 1250Nm of torque at 1,000rpm. Delivering 93% efficiency at 70km/h, EVM says that the E-Cityline handles all the topographies with ease.

Another attraction on the EVM stand was a new model which is targeted at the school and accessible side of the market, the new EVM CM, which stands for Composite Modular. It is a model which EVM believes will allow it to grow outside its traditional executive segment: “We have enjoyed a steady growth in our presence in the school and accessible market over the last five to six years with our Trend, Elegance and in particular our Cityline model,” explained Peter Flynn, Sales and Marketing Director. “Substantial successes in tendering to municipals across the United Kingdom have refocussed us on developing solutions specifically for these markets.”

Danny McGee, Managing Director of EVM told CBW: “The new CM model was driven by a demand from a customer that lead to an initial order of 25 for the Education Authority in Northern Ireland, where the feedback has been fantastic. The body can be recycled and remounted, and the additional benefit is that the body is very light, so we can achieve a greater capacity vehicle in the 5 tonne and 7.2 tonne vehicle categories,” continued Danny. “The CM body has allowed us to increase capacity to 24 passengers on Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 5 tonne, and 35 passengers on the Iveco 7.2 tonne chassis, which gives us a very competitive solution for operators, schools and councils looking for maximum capacity, without the need to move to a 10 tonne-plus solution.”

The EVM CM demonstrator made its debut at the show. RICHARD SHARMAN
The E-Cityline demonstrator was also on the stand, and had many visitors throughout the day. RICHARD SHARMAN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forman Vehicle Services

The Ardent-owned company was showcasing V-AVAS (Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System), designed for electric and hybrid buses that are almost silent at low speeds. The system is designed to warn road users and pedestrians of approaching buses by using distinct audio warnings. The tonality of the sound changes with the vehicles speed. Forman offers a selection of sounds, including the TfL-developed sound. Customers can also supply their own sound to be programmed into the system. An example of the sound can be found on our ITT Hub video on our YouTube channel.

Another innovative product from Forman Vehicle Services is the V-ILS (Induction Loop System). V-ILS allows bus users with hearing aids to communicate more clearly with the driver and receive on-board information directly into their hearing aid device. V-ILS is already in use in over 5,000 buses and coaches in the UK.

Sales Manager Elliot Campey and Marketing Executive Natasha Lear were on hand to demonstrate the V-AVAS system. RICHARD SHARMAN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HJS Emission Technology

Founded in 1976, HJS Emission Technology is based in Menden, Germany. It employs around 400 people and focuses on the development, production and marketing of modular exhaust systems for reducing emissions for all road, rail, construction and marine applications, and has a UK base in Bracknell, Berkshire.

HJS works together with operators and local authorities to improve air quality using Selective Catalytic Reduction Technology (SCRT) which can be retrofitted to reduce NOx emissions and virtually eliminate particulate matter. The HJS Real Blue SCRT system meets Euro VI standards and is both ULEZ and CAZ compliant.

HJS’s Real Blue SCRT system is accredited by the Energy Saving Trust’s Clean Vehicle Reduction Technology Scheme and allows vehicles to be upgraded to meet LEZ, ULEZ and CAZ requirements and complies with the conditions set out within the Clean Bus Technology Fund.

 

Ilesbus UK

The Bridgend-based UK division of Ilesbus continues to develop its range at pace and had four vehicles on the stand and another in the Ride & Drive area. The I-City low floor minibus is based on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 516CDI EXLWB and attracted the attention of visitors with its 20-seat capacity.

A model that is currently selling in volume is the 29-seat Iveco Daily 70C21-based Glance. This model has the option to be specified as a fully PSVAR-compliant vehicle, with a Dhollandia tail lift fitted to the nearside rear. Two double removable seats on NMI legs allow for a wheelchair space to be created. Front, side and rear destinations are fitted and it can be wired for ticket machine equipment.

Sales Director, Gary Johns told CBW: “Since January this year Ilesbus has sold 110 vehicles to individual operators. We are finding that the market at the moment is looking for PSVAR-specification minibuses and basic school buses. The Iveco Daily-based Glance model has seen a total of 42 vehicles sold since it was added to our range. The Glance on our stand at the show has just been sold to Centurion Travel of Midsomer Norton. When the pandemic hit we took a good look at the range, which was mainly geared towards tourism, and decided that we would add some options that would help our customers with PSVAR-compliant vehicles. We have five in-house designers at Ilesbus, so we were able to move quickly. Both the Glance and the 20-seat Mercedes-Benz Sprinter based I-City have been welcomed by operators and the orders haven’t stopped since their introduction. We are currently working on electrifying the I-City range, and we expect that we will have the first Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Iveco Daily low-floor vehicles with larger seating capacity available in two to three months. We are always looking at what we can do to enhance our range for the customer next, and that has been shown by how our range has developed since the pandemic started.”

The PSVAR-compliant Ilesbus Glance has already seen orders for 42 units this year. RICHARD SHARMAN
The I-City low floor minibus was on show in diesel form. An electric option is due soon.
RICHARD SHARMAN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iveco UK

Alongside its commercial vehicles range, the CNH Industrial company showed the increasingly popular Iveco Bus Daily Line 6.5t Hi-Matic minibus on its outdoor stand. The factory-built minibus can seat up to 22 passengers, with quick release rear seating and with a rear-access wheelchair lift. The model shown was fitted with a electrically operated plug doors, but manual or sliding doors are also an option, making it suitable for inter-city, airport or school transportation.

The CNG-powered 6.5t Hi-Matic minibus was also at the show as part of the Ride & Drive area.

Iveco UK Manging Director, Sascha Kaehne said: “We’re very excited to be attending ITT Hub after over a year of uncertainty and unbalanced social interaction, this is a superb opportunity to showcase our incredible product collective and give people the opportunity to examine and properly experience what we strongly believe is the most complete range of sustainable and innovative commercial vehicles on the market in a safe, but welcoming environment.”

Iveco had two Dailys on show, with the Hydrogen-powered version being used on Ride & Drive duties. RICHARD SHARMAN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

London Hire

The self drive rental, contract hire and leasing company which has over 1,000 vehicles in its fleet from 9 to 30 seats displayed one of its electric LDV EV80 minibuses. This example had been converted by Mellor, although London Hire continues to work alongside GM Coachworks.
A PLS lift and Cogent Seating complete the zero-emission minibus, which has 8 seats, and room for 3 wheelchair passengers when they are removed.

Account Manager, John Shier spoke told CBW: “We have arranged contract hire for over 10 LDV EV80s since taking these products into the fleet, with the last two due for arrival soon. Originally we were only looking for long-term opportunities for the vehicle, but myself and Sales Director Peter Moxon decided that if we have a couple of vehicles built for stock we could offer shorter flexible rental so that a customer can try the concept before they commit to long term contracts. We have found that customers that have tried the vehicle out in this way have then gone on to commit as they liked the product. The vehicle shown here today will be going out on lease from 1 August to a customer for three years. They had tried the vehicle out for a few weeks first to get used to it. This is probably the way we will continue to work with the EV80. Looking forward we have diesel and electric vehicles on order throughout this year and into the next as we are finding that due to the delays in the supply of vehicles due to Covid-19, we are getting a lot of enquires from direct purchasers and local councils who are looking for lead-in cover vehicles because some suppliers are quoting 6 to 8 months minimum for delivery, so we are able to fill that gap.”

The LDV EV80 has a range of 100+ miles per charge. RICHARD SHARMAN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mercedes-Benz Bus & Coach UK

The German manufacturer had a strong presence at the show, will the full Tourismo range and the eCitaro making its UK debut.

The eCitaro has been in the European market since 2018, and can now be found operating in a number of cities. The arrival of the first right hand drive model in the UK marks an exciting new era for the Citaro product, which has been operating in the UK in diesel form since 2000.
Neil Gladstone, eCitaro Project Sales Manager told CBW: “The eCitaro demonstrator we are showing at ITT Hub is the first right hand drive version to arrive in the UK and is Generation One. Operators are able to order the eCitaro from today and those vehicles will be delivered in 2022 with Generation Two battery technology, offering improved kilowatts per hour.

“The eCitaro has been designed so that as the generation of Citaro moves on over time, operators will be able to replace the batteries with the latest generation when they require changing. 12 batteries in total are fitted, four located where the engine would have been and 8 situated on the roof. In single door format the eCitaro can carry 39 seated passengers, with 27 standees. There is also an option to specify the vehicle in dual-door format.”

Also making its UK show debut was the Tourismo Access. Responding to the changing landscape of the coach industry, EvoBus has reacted by launching an entry-level full PSVAR-specification coach specifically for the UK market, which joins the current specification range of Travel, Touring and Touring Plus models. Designed for multi-purpose applications, at 12 metres in length the new model is an all-rounder with 53 TSE seats and a centre toilet, making it suitable for rail replacement or home-to-school transport as well as private hire and touring. Standard features include the Mercedes-Benz OM 936, 260kW Euro VI engine with Powershift gearbox, full DDA/PSVAR specification, three-point seatbelts, USB charging points, steel wheels with chrome Mercedes-Benz wheel trims, reversing camera and satellite navigation.

The Tourismo Access offers operators a fully PSVAR-compliant coach at a competitive market price. RICHARD SHARMAN
The eCitaro made its UK debut at the show. RICHARD SHARMAN
The eCitaro has 12 batteries fitted, with four in the engine bay, to the left. RICHARD SHARMAN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mistral Bus & Coach

Mistral’s National Sales Manager Andrew Biggs said that the event had seen a steady flow of people, and that like many he had been unsure how many people might attend. He emphasised that for companies such as Mistral, the market is very much customer-driven, and that there is somewhat of a ‘chicken and egg’ scenario in investing in new energy vehicles. “Our fleet is currently Euro VI,” he said, “which is where it needs to be. We’re driven by operators. We know we have to start bringing EVs into our fleet, but we need to know what the right product is in terms of size, for example, that will appeal to operators. The switch to EV is a step change in terms of cost. We can reduce that initial outlay and help operators get over the fear factor. We can also point to the situation with diesel vehicles, and show operators that if they had leased instead of bought, they wouldn’t be stuck with the headaches of disposal,” he added, referring to the drop in price of older Euro V diesel vehicles and non-PSVAR coaches. “If the upfront cost is prohibitive, that’s where we come in. We have to think how Covid has changed operators’ needs too. We are seeing more need for multi-purpose vehicles that can cover more different types of work,” he added, explaining that operators want to reduce the risk of assets such as expensive touring coaches sitting idle if the situation should worsen again.

Mistral National Sales Manager Andrew Biggs. JONATHAN WELCH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Grid

The National Grid stand had had a Yutong electric bus on display, among other vehicles, highlighting its own drive to reduce its carbon emissions. The bus has recently been placed into service by Stagecoach on a staff shuttle service. National Grid’s Fleet Manager Lorna McAtear explained: “Looking at it from a fleet point of view, we asked what we could do. We had a diesel bus, and we know we need to lead by example. It starts with our own fleet. We’re looking at things we can control today, and planning for the future. If we can do it, we can show that others can.”

Energy Intelligence Manager James Kelloway explained that reducing carbon density means the electricity supplied in 2021 is 65% cleaner than in 2013. He said that going forwards, working with local authorities for grid connections would be more important, as would round table discussions with all stakeholders, whilst locating new depots to be closer to suitable electricity transmission supplies would be an increasingly important consideration.

National Grid brought along its Yutong electric bus, used on a staff shuttle and operated by Stagecoach. JONATHAN WELCH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Navaho

The company’s strapline is ‘Technology for the Future’, which was certainly apparent on it stand at ITT Hub where a number of its destination screens, interior signs and bus time departure boards were being demonstrated.

Navaho uses LCDs (Liquid Crystal Displays) rather than LEDs (Light-Emitting Diodes), which allows the option to display an unlimited number of styles and coloursw, including colour logos or images.

Navaho Smart+ bus destination displays offer live information updates, vehicle status information, depot and maintenance solutions as well as the ability to automate display messaging. Content can be updated on the move, or scheduled and set according to date, time, route or even weather conditions. Layout of content can also be designed according to need and aesthetic requirements, allowing adherence to marketing and brand guidelines.

Navaho also offers a content design service; the in-house studio team can create a suite of professional content templates that can be utilised for any occasion. The Navaho Smart+ bus display can also increase awareness for those on the roads alongside operators’ fleets, as it can display information regarding the road situation ahead and the movements of the bus.

Multiple destination displays were being demonstrated on the Navaho stand stand. RICHARD SHARMAN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Omnibus/EPM

Speaking in the morning of the first day, Omnibus Managing Director Peter Crichton said the event had started quietly, due to the mix of visitors from PSV and other commercial sectors, but that the show was worth visiting, and with time could establish itself well.
EPM acquired Omnibus in January, and the company offers a range of software designed to steamline operations, reduce costs and improve fleet management. EPM’s Technical Account Manager Keiran Procter explained: “We found that directors want a dynamic visual for review. Our system pulls all that data together. We’re also working with a lot of partners on electric vehicles, including the partnership with Oxford Bus Company, and that has highlighted areas we can improve the software further to help plan EV operation. We can enter variables and include margins for comfort and human factors such as the time taken to park up and plug in. We’ve considered real life scenarios.”

The Omnibus and EPM team were on hand to explain their latest software developments. JONATHAN WELCH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Optibus

“We support innovation in the industry, and considering the challenges the industry is facing, there is no better time to start exploring how technology can help make the change easier and attract passengers back on to buses,” said Optibus Regional Director for Europe Carmine Chiuchiolo. “Our system takes the data and allows us to build scenarios and come up with the right answer for operators as they deal with the fluctuation in ridership and the changes in technology. We’re very agile, and the industry has always been very fixed in how it operates. We can help operators to deal with the changes effectively. We predict more operators will need specialist systems to make the conversion from diesel to EV as easy as possible.

Optibus Regional Director Carmine Chiuchiolo. JONATHAN WELCH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pelican Yutong

Pelican Engineering’s Richard Crump was upbeat about the prospects for the market going forward. “We all know 2020 was challenging. From a Pelican point of view, we’ve seen the coach market almost stop, but the bus market has been going very well.” Following recent deliveries to Newport and Leicester, Richard said the company has almost 130 more on order, including those for McGill’s. One of the McGill’s buses was among those on display at the show, whilst a number of others from Leicester and Newport provided shuttle services between the railway station, car park and main entrance.

“I’m confident we have a good offering,” Richard continued, “We sell on merit of what the product is capable of, and the support we provide. We’ve had repeat orders, and we are expanding our site to allow us to finish the buses in the UK. We’ve taken on extra staff since the beginning of Covid.”

Richard said that Pelican valued working with Yutong, which he said provides excellent support and has high expectations of its dealers, likening in to the approach and ethos of DAF in the truck market. “It’s a huge benefit for us to be working with Zenobe too, in terms of what they have brought to Pelican,” he added, recognising the importance of ensuring that batteries are as sustainable as possible in their first and later lives.

Yutong electric buses were on display and provided shuttle services around the event. JONATHAN WELCH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Switch Mobility

This was to be the first outing for the Ashok Leyland-owned company since it re-branded to Switch Mobility from Optare in December 2020.

Three vehicles from the range were on the company’s outdoor stand: a dual-door Metrodecker EV, a 10.8m Metrocity EV, and a surprise that was parked in between them: A new 8,74m Metrocity EV to Transport for London specification made its debut at the event. With a total passenger capacity of 43, with 21 seated, the new offering is fitted with four high energy NMC (nickel-manganese-cobalt) modules that provide a total energy of 240kWh, and a summer range of 190 miles and a winter range (with the electric saloon heating on) of 150 miles.

Robert Drewery, Commercial Director (West) told CBW: “We had an order from Metroline which is going to use the new model on a North London commercial route. Although the new model is not just designed for use in London, we know that there is a 7.9m door forward category in London and we recognised that the Metrocity could fill that niche. The vehicle shown at ITT Hub is the prototype has has just finished homologation testing and the first production bus in now in build. The Solo platform will continue and run along side the new model. They are two different products, with the Metrocity having a tighter turner circle, whilst the Solo has more seats but a bigger turning circle due to its length.

“We will also continue to sell the diesel options of our range, but there is no telling on how long that will go on for as operators start to look at electric vehicles in the lead up to 2030. We anticipate that vehicle range will greatly increase in the next two to three years and then work will commence on bringing down the cost of vehicle ownership and making sure that the infrastructure is there, including in rural locations.”

The 8.74m Metrocity EV made its debut at ITT Hub. RICHARD SHARMAN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Totalkare

Totalkare took a large stand in the centre of the hall, with an ADL Enviro200 atop a set of its T8DC cable-free mobile column lifts, rated at 7,500kg per column with adjustable forks for different wheel diameters, and which can be used in sets of four, six or eight to accommodate vehicles with increased numbers of axles. It also displayed a DVSA approved mobile brake tester, headlamp tester, smoke meter and an example of its new pre-fabricated steel inspection pit. The pits are available in lengths from 6 – 16m available with optional pit jack.
Totalkare also now offers a wide range of ancillary workshop equipment through its web shop, including trolley jacks, bottle jacks and transmission jacks, support stands, access steps, oil management products and air conditioning service units and consumables.

Totalkare was promoting its range of pits and new webshop. JONATHAN WELCH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trailar

Trailar’s team was on hand to show its range of solar-powered solutions for commercial vehicles. Already trialled on Oxford Tube coaches, the system takes away some of the strain from the alternator by keeping batteries topped up using solar panels mounted on the roof, leading to direct savings in fuel costs as the engine has to work less hard. “We can offer solutions for all vehicles, diesel or electric,” explained Co-Founder Aaron Thomas. “The Smart Charge system ensures energy is put in where it is most needed.” The system also prolongs battery life, he explained, as trickle charging is much better for longevity than repeated charge and discharge cycles, and can almost double the battery life.

Trailar Co-Founder Aaron Thomas. JONATHAN WELCH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trutac

Trutac Managing Director Jemma James said that the show had gone well for her company, with new leads generated and new contacts made. Jemma also highlighted that the show was in a new area, which brought new people, both potential clients and potential resellers. Trutac’s partnership with the CPT had also led to a number of enquiries, she said.

Trutac’s Fleet product is being developed further, to include more maintenance and management functions, Jemma explained, whilst TruTime’s driver features are being expanded to allow drivers to book holidays.
“We didn’t know what to expect, and it has surpassed expectations,” Jemma added, commenting on the event. “We’ve found that people have adopted technology much quicker through the lockdown. People have embraced products such as ours. We have seen operations change, and we have come through very well. It has been a strong year for us. Today is a testament to the strength of our industry.”

UKCOA

The UK Coach Operator’s Association had a stand at the event, with a specially-branded Plaxton Panther from Dawsongroup. UKCOA’s Managing Director Peter Bradley said he foresaw four challenges as the industry moved forwards, not least that the drive for new energy and PSVAR should be considered alongside each other, so that products are developed which provide everything in one go, rather than having to redesign things twice. He also highlighted the popular and useful online meetings the UKCOA had organised throughout the pandemic, helping operators feel connected to the wider industry.

Peter Bradley, UKCOA’s Managing Director. JONATHAN WELCH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wrightbus

The Northern Irish manufacturer revealed its latest new energy product, and sister to its hydrogen powered double-decker, the Electroliner. With a capacity of up to 95, the full battery-electric vehicle features either a 320kWh or 454kWh battery pack, giving a claimed range of around 200 miles, with a recharge time of just 2 hours 45 minutes. An eight-year battery capacity life is guaranteed. The new bus shares the same platform as the Hydroliner, examples of which are in service in Aberdeen and London, and has batteries stored under the floor.

Wrightbus Chief Executive Buta Atwal said that the new bus had been designed from the ground up as an EV, with batteries as low as possible to ensure stability, whilst maximising headroom. He emphasised that Wrightbus sees the way forwards as not just selling a bus, but to engage with operators and ensure they are buying the right product for their operations. The company has been working with Queens University Belfast, he explained, to develop simulation software to allow it to make recommendations on vehicle types based on a wide variety of factors. “Covid has hit us all,” he said, but we’re investing millions and we’ve just launched an EV. We’re here for the future. We want to ensure that what we do today takes the market forward. We’re designing for the long term. We don’t want operators to think they’ve made a mistake in five years.”

The Electroliner features a Voith electric drive, and Wrightbus worked with suppliers to ensure battery packs were designed to fit the space available. Saloon heating and cooling is managed by a new heat pump, which also manages the battery temperature to ensure maximum range and longevity. “We see this as a market leader in terms of efficiency,” Buta added.

Wrightbus Chief Executive Buta Atwal was in demand for interviews at the launch of the Electroliner double-decker. JONATHAN WELCH
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