Award-winning buses on the way to Germany

Britain’s Award-winning designer and manufacturer of advanced low-floor buses, Optare plc which is also Europe’s largest maker of hybrid-powered and pure electric full size buses, is targeting the German market. The company, 75% owned by Ashok Leyland, a global top five bus maker, is actively encouraging approaches from reputable and established agents in Germany to both sell and service its products.

Optare opened Europe’s most modern bus assembly facility in the north east of England during 2011 and in 2012 built more than 500 vehicles, all of its own integral design, as well as 220 CKD kits of components used to build a special version of its core Solo SR midi bus in South Africa for the City of Cape Town.

The Solo SR, together with the larger Versa, MetroCity and Tempo single deck models, features a unique demountable power pack module at the rear which can accommodate conventional diesel engines (Optare uses mostly Mercedes Benz engines and Cummins), diesel-electric hybrid powertrains and pure electric, battery powered units.

The pure electric Versa model, complete with an innovative fast charging system, was awarded the prestigious Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Innovation Award at the end of 2012. Three Versas in daily service in the English city of Coventry can be full re-charged in less than two hours giving a range of over 120 km in demanding city driving conditions. They, and Optare EV models in several other British cities, have been fully proven in day-to-day operation.

Over 150 hybrid buses and over 20 EV’s are in operation around the UK and an additional 19 EVs will be in production in April.

“We believe that the advanced technology we have developed – ultra low floors, stylish appearance, ‘green’ power sources and, vitally, very low weight – will prove of real interest to hard-pressed operators in Germany”, says Charles Waggott, Optare’s Export Sales Director. “Although we have sold small numbers of our vehicles in Europe – in Northern Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark, for example – the strong financial muscle of our new parent company Ashok Leyland will give new customers the confidence to do business with us.

“We are adept at delivering buses to the highest quality is varying fleet sizes – no order is too large or too small for our new flexible assembly system and we can closely tailor the specification to meet operator requirements. Because our vehicles are integrated designs – there is no separate chassis – we can reduce weight dramatically. Typically our full size single deckers are up to a tonne lighter than competitive models. This means we can deliver class leading levels of fuel economy and emissions performance and our hybrid and electric buses start with an in- built advantage”, said Mr Waggott.

In 2013 Optare will be displaying its product range at the international Busworld fair in Belgium in October. Before then it hopes to have established a sales and service network in Europe’s largest market for buses – Germany. In 2014 it expects to unveil an all new double-deck model which – like the single deck range – will be designed from scratch for left hand drive configurations.

Established bus support business interested in the Optare franchise are encouraged to contact Charles Waggott at charles.waggott@optare.com.