Volvo hybrid tech and alternative power
One of the most interesting displays at the 2014 Euro Bus Expo was the Volvo stand with a B5TL chassis, a 9700 coach and the latest 7900 Hybrid Volvo saloon. All these vehicles had Euro6 engines further reducing emissions, the B7RLE is also being replace by a Euro6 standard B8RLE with Wrights and MCV bodywork.
Lothian Transport has purchased two batches of the new stylish 7900H saloons, at the start of the show on November 4th, another 40 are on order. Like the Arriva Shires has a batch of induction boosted Wrights StreetLites, these are given power at terminus. The induction plates rise from the ground and connect with the minibus giving additional boost of power. The 7900H also gains a power boost, again by using an induction method, this time from above. Volvo and Edinburgh council are working together to ensure that the new look buses are ready for service. The route will have power points to ensure an extra boost, but it will be at the terminus were the power will be given. When the bus is stationary power will be given via a pantograph which connects with the bus, via an interesting piece of street furniture. Edinburgh council is working with Lothian Transport to build the structures in time for delivery, it will interesting to see if other operators/councils will embrace the new induction tech.
Plaxton Coaches on parade
Plaxton still continues to provide stylish coaches for the industry, with Euro6 examples now being built for delivery. The Panther has the current styling form the Elite and Elitei coaches, which are mounted on the Volvo range of coach chassis with three lengths 12.6, 12.8 and 15m. The Leopard body is a new 12.8m body for the mid range coach travel, which has gained some interesting purchases, with Steels of Addingham getting the first one. Anderson Travel had the Leopard on display, while Mayne had a stylish Panther. The Elitei on display is for Acklam's the East Yorkshire coach operator, N.A.T and Stagecoach Megabus operate the Elitei. The Elitei arrived with interest in late 2012/13 on the Volvo B11R chassis for Stagecoach Megabus.
Alexander Dennis MMC and Virtual Electric models
Having successfully launched the much anticipated Major Model Change (MMC) Enviro 400 earlier in 2014, it was time to unveil the new look Enviro 200. Which in turn matched the success of the original Dennis Dart, the new look version will be available in various sizes from 8.9M to 11M. Allowing a great customer choice, layout and with many features from the E400MMC also used on the new look vehicle. This new look Enviro 200 was revealed to the trade on the first morning of the 2014 Euro Bus Expo, with a fresh approach to style and in some versions more seats. Inside the new E200 the initial view is of a well laid out seating arrangement, with a dedicated wheelchair zone, better seats and improved hand rails. Passengers flow is made easier with the full 2.55M (8.55foot) width and increased space inside the saloon for the taller passenger. LED lighting gives a brighter view on the vehicle, coupled with the light grey colour scheme for a fresh crisp appeal. ADL has also settled into using an overall base colour for each demonstration model, which is fresh and simple. Front end styling is unique to the E200, with the rear aspect following the style set by the E400MMC. Engine wise the whole MMC class are using the much cleaner Euro6 spec engines, the Cummis ISBe series are popular within ADL chassis designs.
Next to the new Enviro 200 was the next innovation of the show the new Enviro 350VE, with some new features. The E350VE (Virtual Electric) allows improved designs to current hybrid drive systems, which can give up 80% service in full electric mode. Useful in London and Oxford, cities which have Low Emission Zones (LEZ). By using GPS tech the engine is automatically switched off in LEZ areas for electric operation, with the diesel/hybrid mode used outside such zones. ADL have carried forward the E350 styling with the addition of a front end roof pod, with a smart interior using e-leather seating, bright colours and LED lighting the E350VE could become a class leading design. First are to operate five of the E350VE in Scotland as part of an 83 GBF low carbon vehicle purchase across nine bus operators for delivery during 2015.
Optare developing the family
Optare has kept the range small for this year's NEC show, with three vehicles, the Metrocity saloon, the Solo and the lightest modern double decker the Metrodecker. All three are powered by the Mercedes Benz OM934 engine range, using the Alison gearbox for the Solo and Metrocity and a ZF 6-speed gearbox for the Metrodecker. Each Optare vehicle was painted into a bright orange overall livery, with an environmental theme. At the show the Metrocity had a single door layout retaining the small rear window, e-leather seating, LED lights and DDA compliant wheelchair and buggy zones. The Solo also had a high spec interior with a single door layout. The real star on the Optare stand has to be the new fresh looking Metrodecker, this time with a single door layout. This Euro6 Mercedes OM934LA 4 cylinder engine coupled to a ZF ecolite 6 speed gearbox all neatly packed into the rear section of the bus, with a possible exchange to the EV-electric power park. E-leather seating and bright LED lights with a fancy halo light at the entrance to the vehicle. Then a surprise on the near side of the show vehicle, an emergency exit, were the TfL central door would go. Also the Metrodecker also came with DDA compliant Wheelchair and Buggy zones. The initial TfL spec Metrodecker was also parked outside for display beside the SoloEV demonstrator minibus.
wright buses at the wright time
The first new look Streetdeck offering from Wrights gained its first public outing at the 2014 Euro Bus Expo in hall 5 at the NEC. The Streetdeck is fully designed and built in Northern Ireland, the chassis is made at the EN-Drive factory in Antrim while the body is built at the main Ballymena plant. The Gemini three revised styling is the same as the Streetdeck too. Power for the Streetdeck is provided by the Daimler OM934 5.1 litre 4-cylinder engine with three gearbox options Voith four speed, ZF eoclife 6 speed or the new Daimler G90AMT. Tech and designs from the New Routemaster TfL LT class is used on the Streetdeck, such as the axles, cooling system, steering, brakes and suspension units. The bus its self has been extensively tested, giving some 15% better fuel savings compared to other models, it boosts the glazed stairwell, a rounded roof profile carried forward from the initial Gemini 3 bodywork. Bonded glazing for most of the bus and a double curve windscreen, give the frontal area a bold and stunning new look. The finished Streetdeck is built to the European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVTA) specification. It was quite a surprise to see the Arriva Sapphire livery on this new look body, which suited the Sapphire colours well.
Wrights also had on display the Streetlite Door Forward (DF) and Wheel Forward (WF) versions, of this now popular series of mini/midi bus styles, of which over 420 examples are currently in service around the UK. The Streetlite was displayed in the stylish First Potteries local identity livery, while the Volvo B5TL built for Translink Metro also had the new revised Gemini 3 bodywork. It seems that Euro6 has brought out the latest and more stylish designs from Wrights, but keeping in with the traditional format of the company. Together with improved Hybrid tech and Eco friendly engines, it looks like the Wrights style is here to continue from its humble beginnings to how the company competes today.