Could we see Australian bus body types in the UK anytime soon?

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A bit of a random question, I know. That's lockdown boredom for you.

But, could we see UK bus companies starting to buying the usual chassis (Volvo B8RLE) but this time with Australian bodyworks, such as the Volgren Optimus, Custom Coaches CB80 Evo III or the Bustech XDI?

If yes, which bodywork is the most likely and who will most likely buy these buses?
 
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carlberry

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A bit of a random question, I know. That's lockdown boredom for you.

But, could we see UK bus companies starting to buying the usual chassis (Volvo B8RLE) but this time with Australian bodyworks, such as the Volgren Optimus, Custom Coaches CB80 Evo III or the Bustech XDI?

If yes, which bodywork is the most likely and who will most likely buy these buses?
I'd say no. Australia isn't a low wage economy which removes the major reason and it's unlikely that we'd get to the situation that any currency exchange difference would outweigh the transport costs if they were providing particularly high end vehicles (to compete with the European sellers).
 

hst43102

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I don't think so, as operators seem to be moving away from the traditional chassis-and-body format and towards integrals such as MMCs or Streetdecks. I think the BCI buses operated by Ensignbus are designed in Australia, if manufactured in China. If anything, it's possible that there will be more Chinese-bodied buses over here in the future - whether that's a good or bad thing is open for debate!
Singapore and Hong Kong have large numbers of Australian-bodied buses in a fairly similar format to British buses.
 
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Safety approval for use in British or European markets would have to be achieved. While I’ve no doubt that the Australians are no slouches in this respect, some work would have to be done to establish technical equivalence for safety standards.
 

markymark2000

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Myself and @Alexbus12 were talking about this the other day. Alex had some very interesting evidence to share. Customs had some recent activity on their companies house page. There is the connection there with the Dunn Group so Alex tweeted and a Diamond manager got back to them kind of hinting that something may be being worked on.


My logic here is that Customs maybe want to enter the UK market but current tarrifs make that difficult and so are waiting for the free trade deal before officially doing any orders.



Customs Companies House entry: https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/07680444
Custom speaking to Sydney 7NEWS in Oct 2020 that they intend on exporting their buses: https://twitter.com/7NewsSydney/status/1319553774805921793



Thanks to Alex for most of this information. I am posting it here incase he hasn't seen the thread.
 

TheGrandWazoo

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Myself and @Alexbus12 were talking about this the other day. Alex had some very interesting evidence to share. Customs had some recent activity on their companies house page. There is the connection there with the Dunn Group so Alex tweeted and a Diamond manager got back to them kind of hinting that something may be being worked on.


My logic here is that Customs maybe want to enter the UK market but current tarrifs make that difficult and so are waiting for the free trade deal before officially doing any orders.



Customs Companies House entry: https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/07680444
Custom speaking to Sydney 7NEWS in Oct 2020 that they intend on exporting their buses: https://twitter.com/7NewsSydney/status/1319553774805921793



Thanks to Alex for most of this information. I am posting it here incase he hasn't seen the thread.
There is a connection within the Dunn family but the two brothers haven't always had the strongest of relationships.

Personally, I think it's unlikely. As well as potential tariffs and regulatory acceptance, you have the issue of obtaining parts via extended supply chains, or you have more stock and so a higher inventory cost on someone's books.
 

Swanny200

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I don't know but the optimus reminds me of an updated version of the MCW Metroliner 400
 

cnjb8

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I going to say no and no one. It'll be a non standard bus, with probably an enormous pricetag from shipping.
 

RustySpoons

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Could the bodies be exported in CKD form and built up locally, rather than manufactured in Oz and exported whole?
 

cnjb8

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Could the bodies be exported in CKD form and built up locally, rather than manufactured in Oz and exported whole?
The way the market is here, I'm not sure. Especially with Wright going bust and Optare only making a tiny amount of buses.
Non standard body but standard chassis widely used in the UK!
But that standard chassis already has a standard body, the MCV Evora (Wright Eclipse has been discontinued). Would a customer like Lothian want to switch to an Australian manufacturer with non standard bodywork, probably more expensive and hard to source parts for, or stick with MCV of which they know how to maintain. It's the same for all current B8RLE purchasers.
 

markymark2000

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There is a connection within the Dunn family but the two brothers haven't always had the strongest of relationships.

Personally, I think it's unlikely. As well as potential tariffs and regulatory acceptance, you have the issue of obtaining parts via extended supply chains, or you have more stock and so a higher inventory cost on someone's books.
That doesn't mean anything really given that the UK already has imported buses and the issues you mention will already be a thing.


The way the market is here, I'm not sure. Especially with Wright going bust and Optare only making a tiny amount of buses.

But that standard chassis already has a standard body, the MCV Evora (Wright Eclipse has been discontinued). Would a customer like Lothian want to switch to an Australian manufacturer with non standard bodywork, probably more expensive and hard to source parts for, or stick with MCV of which they know how to maintain. It's the same for all current B8RLE purchasers.
Point 1, I think that Optare being how they are is one of the reasons why we need more competitors over here. The market is flooded by ADL. Wright do throw out some buses and hopefully with them trying to push for hydrogen (rather than ADL which is pushing more for electric), people who have a preference will get more Wright orders. Optare can't manufacture buses for love nor money (as a passenger, the buses are nice when they are complete but they seem to have issues building buses in the first place). Otherwise, we don't have any other manufacturers based in the UK. Yutong has a few buses over here. MCV seems to have gained popularity a bit for those wanting Volvo chassis.

Depending on what an australian manufacturer came out with, it could be competitor. Look at Yutong and MCV. Their orders were very low to start with. MCV Evora only had 12 buses in 2018 (in the UK), that is now at 72 in just 3 years. Once a few smaller orders are in, people start testing them and eventually, a larger order may come in. Yutong is very new to the UK and already has 3 large-medium operators ordering (GoNorthEast, First West Yorkshire and Newport Bus).

I think it is naïve to say 'why would someone switch to a foreign manufacturer with a non standard bodywork' because operators will switch if they feel the buses are the best for their operation.
 

Cesarcollie

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That doesn't mean anything really given that the UK already has imported buses and the issues you mention will already be a thing.



Point 1, I think that Optare being how they are is one of the reasons why we need more competitors over here. The market is flooded by ADL. Wright do throw out some buses and hopefully with them trying to push for hydrogen (rather than ADL which is pushing more for electric), people who have a preference will get more Wright orders. Optare can't manufacture buses for love nor money (as a passenger, the buses are nice when they are complete but they seem to have issues building buses in the first place). Otherwise, we don't have any other manufacturers based in the UK. Yutong has a few buses over here. MCV seems to have gained popularity a bit for those wanting Volvo chassis.

Depending on what an australian manufacturer came out with, it could be competitor. Look at Yutong and MCV. Their orders were very low to start with. MCV Evora only had 12 buses in 2018 (in the UK), that is now at 72 in just 3 years. Once a few smaller orders are in, people start testing them and eventually, a larger order may come in. Yutong is very new to the UK and already has 3 large-medium operators ordering (GoNorthEast, First West Yorkshire and Newport Bus).

I think it is naïve to say 'why would someone switch to a foreign manufacturer with a non standard bodywork' because operators will switch if they feel the buses are the best for their operation.

Australian bodies always strike me as very ‘heavyweight’. Not sure if that’s borne out by actual weight, but suspect effects on fuel consumption if so would make them unpopular in the UK market?
 

cnjb8

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That doesn't mean anything really given that the UK already has imported buses and the issues you mention will already be a thing.



Point 1, I think that Optare being how they are is one of the reasons why we need more competitors over here. The market is flooded by ADL. Wright do throw out some buses and hopefully with them trying to push for hydrogen (rather than ADL which is pushing more for electric), people who have a preference will get more Wright orders. Optare can't manufacture buses for love nor money (as a passenger, the buses are nice when they are complete but they seem to have issues building buses in the first place). Otherwise, we don't have any other manufacturers based in the UK. Yutong has a few buses over here. MCV seems to have gained popularity a bit for those wanting Volvo chassis.

Depending on what an australian manufacturer came out with, it could be competitor. Look at Yutong and MCV. Their orders were very low to start with. MCV Evora only had 12 buses in 2018 (in the UK), that is now at 72 in just 3 years. Once a few smaller orders are in, people start testing them and eventually, a larger order may come in. Yutong is very new to the UK and already has 3 large-medium operators ordering (GoNorthEast, First West Yorkshire and Newport Bus).

I think it is naïve to say 'why would someone switch to a foreign manufacturer with a non standard bodywork' because operators will switch if they feel the buses are the best for their operation.
Operators switched to MCV because of Wright's poor building quality and they are the only option with Volvo now, and Yutong is a success here because they build electric buses, of which certain operators don't want to buy BYD.
You are right, foreign manufacturers have come here and been a success, and it'd be nice to see buses not so dominated by ADL but I still think my point stands, heavyweights are becoming less and less popular and those that still prefer them would most likely feel the best for their operation is a cheaper, more standardised bus in a market that buys lightweight and increasingly electric. After all this is probably one of the reasons why ADL and to a degree Yutong is so successful. Even if it does somehow get an order, when electric and hydrogen becomes more mainstream will Volvo be too late, they seem behind at the moment and stubborn about keeping to opportunity charging rather than overnight charging, which most operators prefer.
You'll end up with a body that might sell a few but will be doomed by already dwindling sales of the B8RLE and heavyweights in general, along with zero emission buses coming in.
 

markymark2000

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Operators switched to MCV because of Wright's poor building quality and they are the only option with Volvo now, and Yutong is a success here because they build electric buses, of which certain operators don't want to buy BYD.
You are right, foreign manufacturers have come here and been a success, and it'd be nice to see buses not so dominated by ADL but I still think my point stands, heavyweights are becoming less and less popular and those that still prefer them would most likely feel the best for their operation is a cheaper, more standardised bus in a market that buys lightweight and increasingly electric. After all this is probably one of the reasons why ADL and to a degree Yutong is so successful. Even if it does somehow get an order, when electric and hydrogen becomes more mainstream will Volvo be too late, they seem behind at the moment and stubborn about keeping to opportunity charging rather than overnight charging, which most operators prefer.
You'll end up with a body that might sell a few but will be doomed by already dwindling sales of the B8RLE and heavyweights in general, along with zero emission buses coming in.
I can't say for other Aus manufacturers but Customs Bus and Coach have electric and Hydrogen buses on what seem to be their own chassis. In the news video linked, they say that the Chinese buses coming into the country and European chassis aren't developed electrically yes and so it was time to compete as an australian'. I don't think anyone would come over now with electric buses, only zero emission.

Companies can switch quite easily. It just depends on the operators needs at the time. Many operators have a very varied fleets with buses from a variety of manufacturers and it's not really an issue. Maybe to start with but in the long run, companies cope.

I think it would be silly to discount other manufacturers selling buses here purely on the basis of spare parts.
Lothian may want to stick to MCV but Lothian isn't the only company in the UK. Companies like Rotala don't really have any options at the moment. Hydrogen Wright uses which are really expensive or opt for Yutong on electric. If another viable alternative was in place for those who do not like ADL, it could be a decent gap in the market.
 

Swanny200

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The issue I found about BYD is, they introduced some electric cars here a few years ago and IIRC they still do electric taxis for a company in London with a prius clone interior, they said with a lot of fanfare at the time that they first introduced their cars here that private buyers would be able to buy stuff shortly, that was maybe about 6 or 7 years ago unfortunately their european line up is pretty scarce and according to their website, just one car.

They also do commercial vehicles, if they introduced their vehicles here in bus, truck and car form a few years ago, then there might have been a bit more take up on their buses.
 

duncombec

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Although I understand the vehicles themselves had deeper issues, how did Stagecoach get on in Newcastle with the Designline vehicles from NZ in regard to some of the issues raised here (e.g. spare body panels, or other things that are "day to day" spares stock)?

That would be a good start, I would suggest.

I think the reality, though, is that it would be difficult for a variety of reasons. Although there are some obvious outliers (A-Dennis in Berlin, Hong Kong - but would that have happened had there never been a British Influence... is there a strong Caetano presence in Macau/Macao?), it does seem that body manufacturers especially know their markets. Why did MAN not offer their own bodywork in the UK, even though they adjusted the chassis? Why do we not see Gemilang in Gdansk, Alexander-Dennis in Argentina and Solaris in Sydney?

How many BCI vehicles have Ensign sold to anyone other than themselves? One?
 

cnjb8

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I can't say for other Aus manufacturers but Customs Bus and Coach have electric and Hydrogen buses on what seem to be their own chassis. In the news video linked, they say that the Chinese buses coming into the country and European chassis aren't developed electrically yes and so it was time to compete as an australian'. I don't think anyone would come over now with electric buses, only zero emission.

Companies can switch quite easily. It just depends on the operators needs at the time. Many operators have a very varied fleets with buses from a variety of manufacturers and it's not really an issue. Maybe to start with but in the long run, companies cope.

I think it would be silly to discount other manufacturers selling buses here purely on the basis of spare parts.
Lothian may want to stick to MCV but Lothian isn't the only company in the UK. Companies like Rotala don't really have any options at the moment. Hydrogen Wright uses which are really expensive or opt for Yutong on electric. If another viable alternative was in place for those who do not like ADL, it could be a decent gap in the market.
Rotala could be a purchaser actually, but Wright are expanding into electric. You never know, but I personally don't think they'll be successful here. And even if they did want to come here, it would be a very expensive venture
 
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The way the market is here, I'm not sure. Especially with Wright going bust and Optare only making a tiny amount of buses.

But that standard chassis already has a standard body, the MCV Evora (Wright Eclipse has been discontinued). Would a customer like Lothian want to switch to an Australian manufacturer with non standard bodywork, probably more expensive and hard to source parts for, or stick with MCV of which they know how to maintain. It's the same for all current B8RLE purchasers.

That's a true point, though I could still see a Volgren Optimus (or any other Australian bus body) in the UK at some point. With Brexit now happened, it's likely that the UK could do a trade deal with Australia, eliminating tariffs. Not to mention, there are electric Volgren Optimus now too! (But they have BYD chassis just like E200 MMCs)

Australia did trial some of our buses (they trialled a Streetlite in Adelaide and Sydney), so I don't see why the opposite can't happen here.
 

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Alexander Dennis will build on a Volvo chassis and a Stagecoach and Lothian order proves this.
 

hst43102

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Although the lack of competition in the UK domestic market is a problem, why won't operators look to more local body manufacturers in Europe? Spanish buses in particular are fairly similar to those used in the UK - Sunsundegui and Irizar already have a significant presence over here, and Noge, Beulas, Indcar, Hispano and Castrosua have produced coaches for British operators in the past.
 

markymark2000

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Although the lack of competition in the UK domestic market is a problem, why won't operators look to more local body manufacturers in Europe? Spanish buses in particular are fairly similar to those used in the UK - Sunsundegui and Irizar already have a significant presence over here, and Noge, Beulas, Indcar, Hispano and Castrosua have produced coaches for British operators in the past.
Could it be because of the LHD/RHD thing? To those manufacturers, the bus is the wrong way around? It would be a higher cost since any body would basically be custom made for the UK. other Left hand drive countries have 1 up on European manufacturers. At least the bus is basically ok for use in the UK. Just needs to be modified up to the UK spec.
 

RustySpoons

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Could it be because of the LHD/RHD thing? To those manufacturers, the bus is the wrong way around? It would be a higher cost since any body would basically be custom made for the UK. other Left hand drive countries have 1 up on European manufacturers. At least the bus is basically ok for use in the UK. Just needs to be modified up to the UK spec.
Otokar don't seem to have the LHD/RHD issue with their buses, or at least the ones they've churned out for Malta. They have left hand drive equivalents across mainland Europe. Although I'll admit I'm not sure what chassis they're running as that could have a lot to do with it.
 

fgwrich

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Rotala could be a purchaser actually, but Wright are expanding into electric. You never know, but I personally don't think they'll be successful here. And even if they did want to come here, it would be a very expensive venture

I have to admit I do like the look of the "Element" Electric bus though - There's something a little Volvo-meets-ADL MMC about that, and would probably suit some of First Groups liveries quite well.

 

Jordan Adam

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The way the market is here, I'm not sure. Especially with Wright going bust and Optare only making a tiny amount of buses.

But that standard chassis already has a standard body, the MCV Evora (Wright Eclipse has been discontinued). Would a customer like Lothian want to switch to an Australian manufacturer with non standard bodywork, probably more expensive and hard to source parts for, or stick with MCV of which they know how to maintain. It's the same for all current B8RLE purchasers.
Wright haven't "went" bust though... They're in recovery and doing quite well with the future looking pretty good for them. In terms of deliveries Wright have actually delivered more Streetdecks in the past 6 months than ADL have E400s and they have a pretty busy order book, particularly for alternatively powered buses.
Although the lack of competition in the UK domestic market is a problem, why won't operators look to more local body manufacturers in Europe? Spanish buses in particular are fairly similar to those used in the UK - Sunsundegui and Irizar already have a significant presence over here, and Noge, Beulas, Indcar, Hispano and Castrosua have produced coaches for British operators in the past.
Because none of those manufacturers really offer a bus that's suited to the UK market. Just look at Irizar's attempts with the I3. While it may be a decent product the interior layout is not very practical, the angled floor towards the rear can create quite a slip hazard when wet and the demonstrator only had 12 forward facing step free seats. For comparison you can get double that on a E200MMC or Streetlite.

The other issue comes with reliability and aftercare. Even Volvo have had some criticism in recent years regarding poor vehicle reliability, particularly from independents when dealing with the complex engine diagnostics systems as they often have to call a Volvo technician out to solve an issue meaning the vehicle is out of use for days/weeks. There's been quite a few operators who were once loyal Volvo buyers who are now switching to far less complex and more dependable Cummins based vehicles.

MCV are probably the only Non-UK bus builder who have properly managed to get a place in the market, however it's not as if they're new to the UK, they have been around for 20 or so years and got bigger gradually over time.
 

Vespa

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Personally, I think it's unlikely. As well as potential tariffs and regulatory acceptance, you have the issue of obtaining parts via extended supply chains, or you have more stock and so a higher inventory cost on someone's books.
That may change if Britain's application to join the CPTPP free trade group is successful, Australia is a founding member.

So that's a possibility, America under Biden may join the CPTPP as well, Trump withdrew from the TPP a predecessor organisation, if successful would create the biggest free trading bloc, it should be interesting to see how this will affect bus, trains and car sales.
 

TheGrandWazoo

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That doesn't mean anything really given that the UK already has imported buses and the issues you mention will already be a thing.
The history books are littered with examples of buses that have been imported but never succeeded because of the different technical specs and lack of dealer support/parts availability.

I think @duncombec and @cnjb8 have explained it more eloquently than me.

That may change if Britain's application to join the CPTPP free trade group is successful, Australia is a founding member.
It would solve the tariff issue but not the others.

I won't be expecting many to appear any time soon.
 

Vespa

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It would solve the tariff issue but not the others.

I won't be expecting many to appear any time soon.

Quote

It's a start that can lead to other things, small steps and all that.
 

Eyersey468

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Operators switched to MCV because of Wright's poor building quality and they are the only option with Volvo now, and Yutong is a success here because they build electric buses, of which certain operators don't want to buy BYD.
You are right, foreign manufacturers have come here and been a success, and it'd be nice to see buses not so dominated by ADL but I still think my point stands, heavyweights are becoming less and less popular and those that still prefer them would most likely feel the best for their operation is a cheaper, more standardised bus in a market that buys lightweight and increasingly electric. After all this is probably one of the reasons why ADL and to a degree Yutong is so successful. Even if it does somehow get an order, when electric and hydrogen becomes more mainstream will Volvo be too late, they seem behind at the moment and stubborn about keeping to opportunity charging rather than overnight charging, which most operators prefer.
You'll end up with a body that might sell a few but will be doomed by already dwindling sales of the B8RLE and heavyweights in general, along with zero emission buses coming in.
Part of the reason operators switched to MCV was price.
 

TheGrandWazoo

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It's a start that can lead to other things, small steps and all that.
Indeed but the lack of a support network would be a tricky one to overcome. We've been here before with Temsa Avenues, and that's before you think of the weird oddities like these (credits to photographers) courtesy of Castrosua, Renault and Iveco



 
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