VDL’s new Futura double-decker

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The family resemblance with other VDL Futura models is clear. VDL
The family resemblance with other VDL Futura models is clear. VDL

VDL’s new Futura FDD2 double-deck coach, launched in Valkenswaard, Holland replaces the Synergy

HOLLAND VDL Bus & Coach has launched its new double-decker tri-axle coach, the Futura FDD2 which replaces the long running Synergy. The Futura FDD2 is available in two lengths, the 13.85m FDD2-130 seating up to 84 passengers and the FDD2-141 with 96 seats. Wheelbases are 6.195m and 7.255m respectively delivering tight turning radii of 21.45m and 24.3m. Front overhang is 2.28m while at the rear it is 3.11m.

“The Futura design language is clearly recognisable in the FDD2, yet this double-decker also has its own distinctive design features,” said VDL Bus & Coach. “The height of four metres gave the designers the opportunity to create a beautifully aerodynamic front – one that appears to be a single, continuous, curved window. In truth, this windscreen consists of multiple sections to keep replacement costs down.

“The modular construction system developed by VDL offers many synergistic benefits. The basic front and rear axle modules for the FDD2 are identical to those of the FHD2 (single-deck). The modules are produced in the production halls at VDL Bus Modules in Valkenswaard. Then they’re pre-assembled, after which they’re joined together on a short production line. The separate manufacturing of the various components of the Futura coaches makes it possible to remove the raw material processing – welding, sawing, cutting – from the assembly area so assembly can be performed in an extremely clean and efficient manner. The modular construction techniques used provide the highest possible level of optimisation and efficiency.”

The lightweight sandwich panel roof technology used in the FDD2 is the same as that in single-deck Futuras and has also been applied for the floor of the upper deck. Strength comes from using aluminium extrusion profile and the result delivers lower deck headroom of 1.855m. Having a lighter weight floor and roof lowers the vehicle’s centre of gravity resulting in better road-holding.

VDL developed in-house weight savings can also be found in the furnishings, the newly designed toilet and kitchen unit, all achieved through the use of lightweight materials and an optimised floor plan. The toilet has an 80-litre septic tank.

“One of the most noticeable aspects of the new interior is the lack of sharp corners,” said VDL. “Light-coloured, soft materials enhance the travel experience.” Standard are VDL Class 100 seats while more luxurious Class 300 and Class 500 units are optional.

Luggage capacity is 9.3 cubic metres and LED lighting is provided. Access is via three hatches that have gas springs and a low lift-over height, and one door. There’s central locking throughout.

The driver’s area has the same stylish dashboard found in other Futura-family models. “The instrument panel is clearly visible and, through the central display, shows all kinds of information about the vehicle, fuel consumption, door status, smoke detector etc,” aid VDL. “A bright display on the right side of the centre console shows the camera feeds from the upper deck, navigation system or rear view camera. The infotainment system is located beside it.

“The driver also has an easily accessible storage space, 24 and 12 volt sockets and a USB connection. The dashboard for the co-driver has been changed from those found in the other Futura family members. Additional functionality has been added such as a fold-out table for a laptop. There’s a standard cupboard, optional space for a refrigerator and a microphone within hand’s reach.”

The FDD2 is equipped with the latest active braking system AEBS (Advanced Emergency Braking System) that assists the driver in identifying and quickly braking in emergency situations. ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control) is available as an option. Lane Departure Warning System is now mandatory.

Power for the FDD2 comes from a DAF MX-13 375 12.9-litre engine that produces 501bhp and 2,500Nm of torque between 1,000rpm and 1,425rpm. The gearbox is a ZF AS-Tronic 12 AS 2701 BO. “For the coach operator this powertrain represents a substantial contribution to the ‘Profit of Ownership’ while for the environment it means further reduction of the coach’s already favourable CO2 emissions per passenger kilometre score,” said VDL.

“The ultimate goal was not only that the FDD2 should be cost-effective but also make it as attractive as possible for the owner, driver, and above all the passengers. Prior to the development process, VDL consulted numerous users of the predecessor, Synergy, to learn what improvements and changes they would like to see in their new double-decker. Then the engineers and designers went to work with the information obtained from these customer interviews. The result is a synthesis of what the engineers wanted to see achieved in terms of technical design and the customers’ wishes. The ultimate goal is to create an experience for the passenger that is on par with that of a luxury limousine.”