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Bus Manufacturer News & Discussion

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Thanks. In which case based on the Kwh/KM both the ADL and Wright products are way in front of Volvo.
I ask myself why of course.

Volvo has an overall smaller battery and is only using 20% of its full capacity.

The ADL product is using a slightly larger battery but is using 88% of its overall capacity.

Yes the efficiency rating of the ADL and Wright product is superior, efficiencies often come with sacrifice somewhere. Has the electric motor been turned down to a point with which the vehicle can feel wanting for drivability or is the heating not quite so powerful?

If you look at the test for the Volvo BZL with MCV bodywork its interior temperature was a little higher, perhaps an indication that its heating is a little more thirsty but overall was a little warmer; a welcome change on Electric Bus if so.

Then there's the electric driveline. I’m certain that a Wright Electroliner & Enviro 400EV are both using the same Voith Electric Drive System where as Volvo are using their own gear.

Then there's reliability and so on to consider.
 
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ClydeCoaster

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Van Hool letting go of 1100 workers, moving coach production entirely to Macedonia and leaving the city bus market. Not good news at all for such a prestigious manufacturer. If the restructuring plan doesn't get approved by 31st March it may fold entirely. I know they were shocked when De Lijn, the state operator in Flanders, opted for 92 BYD buses in it's latest order rather than Van Hool's A Series.

 
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In your post that @skyhigh quoted, you said 20%, not 80%. In any case, what's your source for these figures, please?
My apologies I tried to remember these figures from memory, I have made a mistake, the correct information is as follows; the Volvo BZL-DD has a 470kwh battery pack but utilises only 80% of it(376kwh), 20% less than its full capability, if the certificate is looked at thoroughly you can see that it’s listed as “installed capacity” & “usable capacity”.


The Wright Streetdeck Electroliner in its maximum battery capacity option of 454kwh utilises only 80% of its full capacity as well(363kwh).


The source comes direct from Zemo’s website which is full of certificate for many new models.
 

Goldfish62

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My apologies I tried to remember these figures from memory, I have made a mistake, the correct information is as follows; the Volvo BZL-DD has a 470kwh battery pack but utilises only 80% of it(376kwh), 20% less than its full capability, if the certificate is looked at thoroughly you can see that it’s listed as “installed capacity” & “usable capacity”.


The Wright Streetdeck Electroliner in its maximum battery capacity option of 454kwh utilises only 80% of its full capacity as well(363kwh).


The source comes direct from Zemo’s website which is full of certificate for many new models.
You don't want to run drain batteries fully or charge them to 100% routinely. It reduces lifespan. Hence the 80% quote.
 

skyhigh

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My apologies I tried to remember these figures from memory, I have made a mistake, the correct information is as follows; the Volvo BZL-DD has a 470kwh battery pack but utilises only 80% of it(376kwh), 20% less than its full capability, if the certificate is looked at thoroughly you can see that it’s listed as “installed capacity” & “usable capacity”.


The Wright Streetdeck Electroliner in its maximum battery capacity option of 454kwh utilises only 80% of its full capacity as well(363kwh).


The source comes direct from Zemo’s website which is full of certificate for many new models.
Right, so it uses 80% of the nominal capacity which seems reasonable to me.

I didn't think 20% sounded anywhere near right!
 

SLTRegular

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Penrith
Here's a preview of one of the Custom Denning Element 2 buses built for Hallmark Connections Ltd.

We have Element 1s on my local routes 5000-5011 are the fleetnumbers. The tram sounds they make when they move is bizarre but they have a much better build quality than the awful Byd electric buses that we got dumped on us after this order.

I'm curious how they'll cope on the lower quality uk roads though
 

Edvid

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Rotala uploaded a video of the Hallmark trio being driven at Custom Denning's factory; the other buses seen there are also Element 2s, I'm guessing. It'll be quite a while before they carry passengers at Heathrow (not before mid-2024).


Closer to home, Volvo launched their BZR Electric chassis this week, with production of left-hand drives set to commence next year (right-hand drives will follow later). It is adapted from the B8 range.

 
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37114

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Not seen it widely reported but Plaxton has suspended production of coaches for 2 years to free up production for Electric buses:
 

dmncf

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Not seen it widely reported but Plaxton has suspended production of coaches for 2 years to free up production for Electric buses:
Just above another article about Van Hool being in severe financial difficulties:
https://www.busandcoachbuyer.com/van-hool-racing-to-secure-its-future/
Together, these articles make me think that the shift of coach manufacturing from Europe to China is inevitable. ADL might be better off without investing in coach manufacturing.
 

fgwrich

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Rotala uploaded a video of the Hallmark trio being driven at Custom Denning's factory; the other buses seen there are also Element 2s, I'm guessing. It'll be quite a while before they carry passengers at Heathrow (not before mid-2024).

Not a bad effort actually, sort of like a ADL product crossed with Hispano. I sort of like the look of it already!
 

GusB

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Buses & Coaches
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Not seen it widely reported but Plaxton has suspended production of coaches for 2 years to free up production for Electric buses:
I certainly haven't seen any reports that Plaxton had suspended coach production for 2 years. The last I heard was that they were building a certain number of stock vehicles with Leopard and Panther bodies, presumably so that operators could obtain new coaches within a fairly short timescale if they require a relatively bog-standard product. The Alexander Dennis (AD) website still advertises the Elite, Elite-i, Panther LE and Panorama, but makes it very clear that these are built to order. There has been some debate in this thread as to what constitutes a substantial enough order.

There are some key points in that article:
Alexander Dennis has already announced the news that, as from this year, coach production in Scarborough has been suspended for two years, for the perfectly sound reason that it has a burgeoning order book for its new and impressive ‘NextGen’ electric buses. With both Falkirk and Scarborough buzzing with buses, to devote a line to Leopard in a depressed and competitive coach market would not make sense.
The new electric vehicles are a big deal for AD and the company is going to want to make sure that it delivers these in a timely manner. It's about volume and that simply isn't present with coaches.

The truth is, the Leopard and the Panther were its only remaining coach products in regular production, and the Panther – though a much-liked coach – is rather long in the tooth, with origins going back to 1999. It’s doubtful that sales of Leopard – in a niche contested by Turkish-built Temsa, MOBIpeople from Portugal and others – would get much beyond 50 or 60 vehicles a year. Would that volume justify the factory floorspace and inevitable redevelopment of the model?
The Panther is an old product. There's only one manufacturer available to provide the underlying chassis - Volvo. This is a far cry from the days when Plaxton could churn out a coach on any platform.

It saddens me that the Panorama failed to get the traction which – in my opinion – it richly deserved but the sales numbers were never going to be high for an expensive tri-axle ‘decker of its type without a left-hand drive export version for express networks, and Volvo’s 9700 ‘decker now fills that niche in Europe. So I strongly suspect that the handful built will be the first and last.

There are additional challenges. Part of the appeal of Plaxton’s coaches in the last decade has been the umbilical connection to Volvo chassis, favoured by many operators. I understand that relationship has been fraught, and Volvo in the UK does, of course, have its own range of coaches including the B8R MCV eVoTor, built in Egypt, which could be viewed by a Volvo devotee as almost a straight swap for Leopard.
A single chassis supplier is never a good thing when that supplier is making deals with other body builders - MCV and Sunsundegui. Also, note the word "fraught" - could it be that AD/Plaxton isn't getting a good enough price for chassis, thereby making its own products uncompetitive?

Then there is Euro VII, new GSR regulations from the EU, and ultimately electrification. All of these changes face AD and its Canadian parent company, NFI, with development costs for European coach designs which I feel are unlikely to be ploughed into the current product range. I wonder whether there is a case for designing a diesel coach from the ground up in two years’ time, or whether – especially with its new expertise in electric vehicles – it might just go direct to zero-emission coaches?
Ah, Euro 7. My own opinion on this is "what's the point?" Electric coaches are already a thing thanks to Ember and now Flixbus is going down that route. Volvo has recently announced the BZR platform and I suspect this will progressively kill off the current diesel models if it can be proven to work.

Alexander Dennis has stated adamantly that its decision to end coach production is a suspension; and never say never. I am heartened by the knowledge that AD’s two new buses took just two years to go from concept to production, but with most other coachbuilders in lower-waged economies pouring development and production into the sector, my concern is that Plaxton will be left so far behind in the diesel coach race that it will be too expensive to catch up.
Is it a "suspension", or is it really the end? Why devote factory space to a niche product when you could be building lots of electric vehicles?

Should Plaxton have put its eggs in one basket with Volvo, or should it have tried to branch out and build coaches on alternative platforms? Maybe it should have tried to promote an integral coach, possibly with a choice of engines and drivelines.
 

37114

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I certainly haven't seen any reports that Plaxton had suspended coach production for 2 years. The last I heard was that they were building a certain number of stock vehicles with Leopard and Panther bodies, presumably so that operators could obtain new coaches within a fairly short timescale if they require a relatively bog-standard product. The Alexander Dennis (AD) website still advertises the Elite, Elite-i, Panther LE and Panorama, but makes it very clear that these are built to order. There has been some debate in this thread as to what constitutes a substantial enough order.

There are some key points in that article:

The new electric vehicles are a big deal for AD and the company is going to want to make sure that it delivers these in a timely manner. It's about volume and that simply isn't present with coaches.


The Panther is an old product. There's only one manufacturer available to provide the underlying chassis - Volvo. This is a far cry from the days when Plaxton could churn out a coach on any platform.


A single chassis supplier is never a good thing when that supplier is making deals with other body builders - MCV and Sunsundegui. Also, note the word "fraught" - could it be that AD/Plaxton isn't getting a good enough price for chassis, thereby making its own products uncompetitive?


Ah, Euro 7. My own opinion on this is "what's the point?" Electric coaches are already a thing thanks to Ember and now Flixbus is going down that route. Volvo has recently announced the BZR platform and I suspect this will progressively kill off the current diesel models if it can be proven to work.


Is it a "suspension", or is it really the end? Why devote factory space to a niche product when you could be building lots of electric vehicles?

Should Plaxton have put its eggs in one basket with Volvo, or should it have tried to branch out and build coaches on alternative platforms? Maybe it should have tried to promote an integral coach, possibly with a choice of engines and drivelines.
To be honest I was not surprised to read the article, it felt like this had been coming for a while. A small numbers of a complex product to build in an increasingly competitive market at a time of a shift from diesel to electric was always going to be a tough sell in the board room.
 

MotCO

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Added to which, Plaxton do not seem to have developed much of an export market for its coaches. Many continental suppliers have made inroads into the UK, but it doesn't seem to have been reciprocated. Its overall market penetration is therefore much less than other manufacturers.
 

Blindtraveler

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Watching this happen with a certain degree of inevitability, there's not really much to add that others haven't already said except that perhaps part of the hammer blow for Plaxton has been the lack of coach orders in significant numbers from stagecoach since pre-pandemic. A couple of other operators took significant Panorama deliveries throughout 2019 and early 20 but there has been very little since and for the handful of coaches that the group has ordered recently they've stuck with Volvo but bought their own integral product rather than the Plaxton offering. Has the quality of the Paxton product been sufficiently eroded by all the usual ADL issues that we all like to talk about so much on here and elsewhere? Time will only tell and the 9700s currently in build and delivery for Stagecoach will prove very interesting. Some are being deployed to Megabus duties while others are going to an intensive and near enough round the clock into urban commuter operation.
 

jammy36

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Plaxton also produced significant numbers of coaches for the MOD and it's contractors and this provided a regular order stream onto which stock-builds and other orders could be bolted. In combination these would have provided meaningful work to justify production line space.

I believe Irizar now has the tender for these and have been supplying tri-axle Irizar i6 integrals. Obviously it's not known if Plaxton put in a bid for the supply contract but the shift to Irizar and the loss of a regular order stream might be a contributing factor to the withdrawal/suspension of coach production.
 
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The Volvo B11RLE chassis found underneath the Plaxton Panorama does not seem to have been a favourable one in my view.

I am of the understanding that the Volvo 9900s for Stagecoach are not using the same chassis thats underneath the Panorama albeit it is a Volvo chassis of course with a 13ltr engine.

Despite the fact we see Yutong and now Volvo introduce means for EV coaches, both a diesel & EV coach are still simply not comparable on their potential range, convenience and usability across a wide range of routes, an electric coach traveling from Aberdeen to Glasgow spanning 5am to 12am, some 18-20hrs, an EV coach will run into range issues where additional infrastructure such as opportunity charging along the route will be needed with current models or additional vehicles to swap out with.

I am yet to be convinced.
 

Blindtraveler

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I agree that the industry as a whole I think has a bit of a way to go yet in terms of being able to offer the range that we need in an electric coach, coach travel in this country is already sufficiently slow that it will never compete on journey time and slowing this down further because the Edinburgh to London via he throw overnight run for example can only get as far as Tebay before it needs topping up and then a further stop at say somewhere like Stafford or a location at the top end of the M40 is not going to please the passengers who will simply find other means of going nomatter how tight their budget


Moving a little back closer to topic has anybody got an idea of how much stock lies built and ready either with a fairly bog standard interior or in an unfinished condition ready for an interior to be fitted to bespoke specification for a customer? If people who have bought plaxton consistently over the years come back from all and find that there isn't any more to have they will go elsewhere and so begins the vicious cycle, it won't in this case be brutal for a DL as they have plenty of other fish already in The friars and cooking away nicely but if this is their way of slowly and painfully killing off the coach side then it's going to be not very pleasant
 

Mikey C

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An integral Hydrogen coach is surely something that ADL/Plaxton should be considering. Wrightbus are planning a hydrogen coach for 2026, though maybe just the chassis.
 

aswilliamsuk

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The Volvo B11RLE chassis found underneath the Plaxton Panorama does not seem to have been a favourable one in my view.

I am of the understanding that the Volvo 9900s for Stagecoach are not using the same chassis thats underneath the Panorama albeit it is a Volvo chassis of course with a 13ltr engine.

Despite the fact we see Yutong and now Volvo introduce means for EV coaches, both a diesel & EV coach are still simply not comparable on their potential range, convenience and usability across a wide range of routes, an electric coach traveling from Aberdeen to Glasgow spanning 5am to 12am, some 18-20hrs, an EV coach will run into range issues where additional infrastructure such as opportunity charging along the route will be needed with current models or additional vehicles to swap out with.

I am yet to be convinced.
I also seem to recall that there was quite a bit of dissatisfaction with the build quality of the Panorama double-decks - my understanding was that the floors needed quite a bit of work.

Stagecoach in particular has always been pretty ruthless if a product isn't up to scratch - there have been quite a few examples over time of at-the-time surprising orders that in retrospect began to make sense when others reported problems too.
 

Edvid

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Wright feature heavily in an article on hydrogen, published yesterday by The Times. They've kindly posted a screenshot of the first page but the full article is behind a paywall.

TIMES%20PDF%20JMG%20HYDROGEN%20ARTICLE%20APRIL%202024.jpeg

In terms of UK hydrogen production specifically, sister company Hygen Energy are looking to establish a facility next to Wright's Ballymena factory and were awarded a share of the Net Zero Hydrogen Fund 1 pot for it last year, but progress since then looks to have stalled. They're also involved in a project to build one on the former Birkshall gas storage site, which has both government funding (through Hydrogen Allocation Round 1) and - as of this week - planning permission from Bradford Council as well.


4 April 2024 11:30 Neil Tague

Partners Hygen and N-Gen have secured the go-ahead to develop the former Birkshall gas storage operation on Bowling Back Lane into a refuelling facility for buses and other users.

Hygen said that its aim is to produce enough hydrogen to replace 800 diesel-fuelled buses a day with zero emissions hydrogen buses on West Yorkshire’s roads.

The Bradford Low Carbon Hydrogen development is expected to produce low carbon hydrogen which can be used to decarbonise vehicles and industry. At the end of 2023, the scheme became the largest yet to be awarded funding through the government’s Hydrogen Production Business Model, with the plant having the capacity to produce around 12.5 tonnes of hydrogen per day.

The hydrogen will be produced through electrolysis, using renewable electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

Jamie Burns, director at Hygen, said: “The granting of planning permission is a significant step in the development of a facility which will provide enormous benefits to the people of Bradford and the surrounding area.

“Along with our partners, we have worked tirelessly to develop these plans, which will provide a blueprint for how complex projects like this can be delivered, boosting the hydrogen and green economies of the UK.”

Gareth Mills, managing director at N-Gen, said: “We are extremely proud to be bringing a flagship hydrogen production facility and significant investment to Bradford. The site was once home to gas holders, which stored natural gas used by the residents and businesses in Bradford, so it is fitting that the site will continue its heritage and now be used for the production and storage of hydrogen, a cleaner fuel.

“We expect the facility to be a valuable addition to the Bradford economy, providing a viable way for local businesses to decarbonise, as well as attracting new companies and jobs to the area, by placing the city at the forefront of the transition to clean energy.”

Businesses and other users in West Yorkshire will be able to use the refuelling facilities on site, with distributor Ryze delivering hydrogen to industrial users across the region.

Hydrogen is a multi-purpose fuel which can be used as a replacement for natural gas in heating and industrial processes, and for replacing diesel in heavy goods vehicles including buses, trains and lorries.

The use of hydrogen is being supported and funded by the government as it produces no carbon when burned, meaning it can help with the challenge of tackling climate change.

Projects are advancing across the country, with North East projects including plans in Teesside and through French firm Lhyfe in Wallsend; while HyNet is pushing on with plans at Ellesmere Port’s Stanlow refinery site in the North West.
 

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