Cologne operator RVK has placed an order for up to 60 Kite Hydroliner single-deckers from Wrightbus
Wrightbus has announced a second international zero-emission bus deal that will see it supply its first fleet of clean buses to Europe, on the heels of what it called a landmark deal with Australian bus body builder Volgren to supply hydrogen power trains which could open up a significant export market in that country.
The Northern Irish manufacturer has signed a deal with German operator Regionalverkehr Köln (RVK) to supply up to 60 Kite Hydroliner single deck buses over the next two years. The buses will be the first integral left-hand drive vehicles that Wrightbus has made and exported since green entrepreneur Jo Bamford bought the firm out of administration in 2019.
The buses for the Cologne operator will be fully built at the Wrightbus factory in Ballymena, and are part of a tender which also includes up to 40 hydrogen buses from Polish manufacturer Solaris. The deal will see both manufacturers supply an initial 20 vehicles, with options for up to 40 more from Wrighbus and 20 more from Solaris.
Wrightbus Executive Chairman Jo Bamford said he was pleased to be announcing the RVK order: “This deal is a significant one for us in many ways. Not only is it our first European order since I took over, but it’s also our second international deal in quick succession and it shows that Wrightbus has a huge part to play on the global stage.
“RVK already has a substantial hydrogen fleet so for them to order from Wrightbus and recognise us as a leader in the sector is hugely gratifying and a testament to the reputation we’ve built up in the zero-emission sector. The recent appointment of our dedicated European Chief Commercial Officer Jean-Luc Deflandre highlights our desire to grow in the market, and we’re hoping this order marks the start of the roll out of many left-hand drive zero-emission buses in cities across Europe and beyond in the coming years.”
Jo added that the deal was another boost for manufacturing in Northern Ireland: “All of the RVK buses will be built in Ballymena, lending further support to the wider regional economy and allowing us to create green jobs as we continue in our growth.”
The first vehicles are expected to be delivered to RVK in 2023, with the remainder due in 2024.
RVK has extensive experience in running hydrogen buses since first introducing them to its fleet in 2011. It currently has 52 hydrogen buses of varying types as part of its fleet, which is amongst the largest fleets of hydrogen fuel cell buses in Europe. RVK Managing Director Marcel Frank said he was excited to be working with Wrightbus: “We have currently received federal funding to expand our hydrogen bus fleet by 2025. The combination of the most economical offer with a robust service concept is the reason why we placed the order with Wrightbus.“
Since first entering passenger service in 2020, Wrightbus says its hydrogen-fuelled StreetDeck Hydroliners in the UK and Ireland have clocked up more than a million miles, preventing 1,700 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere on those bus journeys. Zero-emission vehicles are expected to make up 70% of the Northern Irish firm’s production this year.