UK Busmaker Trumpets Four-Digit Sales, JV with New Flyer,
BAE Hybrid Technology with Start-Stop Nigh, CNG Buses Too
World domination may be going it a bit strong, but Scotland’s Alexander Dennis Limited is stepping up the pace in advanced buses – talking up many hundreds of buses for China, a joint venture with North America’s New Flyer Industries to serve a market that’s “ready for change,” a renewed emphasis on fuel-saving technologies including hybrid drive – and compressed natural gas to boot.
ADL continues to use series hybrid electric drives from BAE Systems – to which it will soon add a start-stop capability. For CNG buses, it has a development agreement with Scania GB (F&F, April 22), and recently disclosed a £3.5 million ($5.6 million U.S.) order for a fleet of 19 Enviro300 natural gas vehicles for the UK’s Reading Buses.
ADL this month cited “a massive boost” to its bus-building business, with orders for nearly 1,000 vehicles, worth £220 million ($352 million), to be delivered over the next 18 months. ADL says that 532 of its new three-axle, double-deck, 135-passenger Enviro500 vehicles will be placed with operators in Hong Kong.
ADL closed its acquisition of Sydney, Australia-based Custom Coaches this past summer too.
“Our total focus is on developing and bringing to market a range of products that raise the bar on fuel efficiency, reduced emissions, reliability, maintainability and best-in-class whole life costs,” ADL CEO Colin Robertson said in a release. “Our new Enviro500 is a classic example of this, providing a tailor-made solution for customers such as KMB [370 units], Citybus  and MTRC in Hong Kong.”
Additional sales of Enviro400 and Enviro200 models for Hong Kong bus operators will take total deliveries into the territory by end-March 2015 to 641 units, ADL says.
Hybrid Drive Allows Smaller Engine
The Falkirk-based manufacturer says it already has some 600 hybrid buses operating in the UK, often achieving fuel and carbon dioxide emissions reductions of 60% compared to previous diesel equivalents. The addition of stop-start hybrid technology will allow zero emissions as the buses pull away from bus stops. Start-stop will boost fuel efficiency by an additional 8-10%.
“We are moving toward 70% better fuel efficiency compared with the forerunner diesel buses that are being replaced,” says ADL group corporate affairs director Bill Simpson. He told F&F that ADL uses four-cylinder, 6.8-liter Cummins engines in the full-size hybrid buses.
“Market confidence in the new technology is so high that ADL has already received advance orders for 150 vehicles,” the company says. Production is getting underway, and the new start-stop hybrids “will be delivered between now and the summer of 2013, going into operation with fleets such as National Express, Stagecoach, FirstGroup, Go-Ahead, London United and Metroline (London).”
“We have established ourselves as the world’s leading supplier of double-deck hybrids and we intent to maintain that position, while also expanding our new stop-start technology into full-size single decks for home and overseas markets,” said CEO Robertson.
‘Midi’ Buses with New Flyer
ADL also reports orders for 175 Enviro200 vehicles, described as “a highly maneuverable, small, fuel efficient midi bus.” Robertson predicted sales of 600 for 2012.
The firm’s new joint venture with New Flyer targets the midi market, with a product customized for the U.S. and Canada for 2013.
“We believe there is potential for a fuel-efficient, economic midi bus and to create a whole new bus sector in North America that could have the potential for 1,000 vehicles a year,” Robertson said.
“Transit authorities are being squeezed on all fronts as the economy tightens and the impact of the recession continues relentlessly,” he said as the JV was announced this past May. “There is growing demand for around 1,000 light-weight medium duty buses designed and built to meet the needs of North American operators. This is a figure based on extensive research with New Flyer and transit operators, many of whom have made it clear that the transport landscape in the USA and Canada is ready for change.”
Robertson called the Enviro200 midi bus “a world-beater, leading the field in markets as far apart as Britain and New Zealand,” with worldwide sales of 16,000 units. The New Flyer joint venture is to include hybrid and CNG vehicle options.
ADL’s CNG buses for Reading are the first fruit of the joint program with Scandia UK. They will have ADL’s single-deck 40-seat Enviro300 body on the 12-meter (39.4-foot) Scania KUB 4×2 chassis, powered by Scania’s five-cylinder, 9.3-liter 270-horsepower lean-burn engine – “with no need” for EGR (exhaust gas recirculation). “It is based on the same platform as Scania’s modular-build 9.3-liter diesel engine, which limits the number of new components required for the low entry gas chassis to around 40 items,” ADL says.
“The combination of stylish, proven, British-built bodywork with technology that promises high performance, minimal running costs and a carbon-neutral fuel solution, ticks all of the boxes for us,” Reading Buses CEO James Freeman says in an ADL release.
A New Doubler-Decker Too
France’s Ullit will supply Type IV CNG fuel tanks. CNG fueling will be provided by GBA, Britain’s Gas Bus Alliance, ADL said in August, indicating the possibility of a bio-based supply.
ADL’s most recent announcement is for an all-new double-deck bus for late 2013 or early 2014 to coincide with the introduction of Euro6 emissions legislation. No fewer than 50 operators have been involved in the development program, and the result will be “a new flagship that is stylish, lighter, more fuel-efficient, more reliable, easier to repair and maintain, and will reduce whole-life costs substantially.”
“It will also usher in a radical, new approach to how we build buses,” Robertson said.
“This business is not about producing the most glamorous Ferrari of the bus world,” said the ADL boss. “It is about practical, fit-for-purpose vehicles that deliver what they promise.
“Yes, we want them to look smart and stylish but, along with this, they need to be built using modern manufacturing processes. These are the fundamentals that enable built consistency across all products and in all locations – and will raise the bar still further on quality, while keeping costs in check.”
Contact information is only available to premium subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription.
Source: ADL releases with Fleets & Fuels follow-up