As announced in December, bus maker Optare has been awarded a contract valued at over £6 million by one of the UK’s leading bus operating companies and the first buses have already begun to roll off the production line.
Arriva Group has placed a substantial share of its 2013 fleet replacement with Optare, ordering 49 of their Versa range. Both the 11.1 metre version, and the recently introduced low-weight 11.7 metre model are being supplied. A single 9.0m Solo SR has also been ordered to meet a specific contract requirement.
The contract was awarded following successful operation of Versa by a number of Arriva operating divisions around the UK. The first Versa entered service with Arriva in 2007 and since then the model has featured in every annual fleet replacement programme.
The decision to order 21 of the 11.7 metre Versa is particularly significant as it follows on from successful trials of four such vehicles by Arriva during last year. The model has a seating capacity of 44, equivalent to that of a 12.0 metre single-decker, but weighs less than eight tonnes. This low weight has contributed to good fuel efficiency with Arriva reporting in excess of 10 mpg from the model on intensive urban operations.
The 11.7 metre Versas will be powered by the Cummins ISBe six-cylinder engine at 201bhp, whilst the 11.0 metre models will have the Mercedes-Benz 900 Series four-cylinder engine delivering 154bhp.
Optare’s Deputy CEO, Glenn Saint, commented: “Beginning the year with an order of this size is a major boost for the company following a year in which we successfully completed a three-year turnaround of the business.
“Our interim results for the six months to the end of September show that revenues were up by 106 per cent, and that we returned to profitability in the third quarter of 2012. Registration statistics show our market share in the eight to thirteen tonne bus sector was almost 34% in 2012, and we secured substantial overseas contracts.
“Winning this order demonstrates that large fleet operators can include our products in their annual fleet replacement programmes confident in the knowledge that we will deliver high quality, fuel efficient products on time and in line with their operating needs.”