Three new models and an electric bus in the Optare line-up at EuroBus Expo

New: Low-weight 11.7m Versa

On display in the colours of Go Ahead North East - who are to put the vehicle though its paces on extended route evaluation trials over the coming months - is the new 11.7 metre Versa.

A key selling point of this new model is its capacity of 44 seated passengers, plus standees, which is equivalent to that of a 12 metre single-decker, but it weighs in at less than eight tonnes. Optare believes that the lower capital cost and fuel saving potential of such a low-weight model will prove particularly appealing to operators looking for the lowest possible cost per seat in this class of vehicle.

The model on show is powered by the optional Cummins ISBe six-cylinder engine at 201bhp; the Mercedes-Benz 900 Series four-cylinder engine delivering 154bhp being the standard offering, with diesel-electric hybrid and fully electric-powered versions also available.

The engine is matched to a five-speed Allison 2100 Series automatic transmission and a Klam electro-magnetic retarder is fitted to assist braking effort and reduce break wear.

Kneeling front suspension and convenient book-leaf wheelchair ramp ensure easy access for passengers of all levels of mobility and the wheelchair bay is located immediately within the saloon.

The Versa also features the Optare Eco drive™ dashboard which constantly monitors driver performance for real-time feedback leading to improved fuel efficiency and increased comfort and safety for passengers.

 

New: Bonito small and accessible bus

Optare is re-entering the small accessible bus market with the stylish new Bonito ultra low-floor model. Designed to carry up to 16 passengers, the DPTAC compliant vehicle is fully accessible for people of all levels of mobility.

A deep front windscreen and bonded side windows give Bonito a smooth aerodynamic appearance. The corrosion-proof Glass Reinforced Polyester Composite structural body is built by Plastisol in The Netherlands to Optare’s specification and results in a low unladen weight which will contribute to good fuel efficiency and the use of GRP will ensure durability and an exceptionally long life. It also makes repairs easier and the more vulnerable lower rear corner panels are designed to be easily replaced in the event of accident damage.

A kneeling suspension system is standard and when lowered results in an entrance platform height of just 246mm at the side door, which has no step, and 296mm at the rear doors. Wheelchair access is fast and safe by means of the fully opening double rear doors and the robust two-stage roll-on wheelchair ramp. A side loading wheelchair access ramp can also be specified as an option.

Bonito is based on the proven Fiat Ducato mechanical base with power from a four-cylinder engine of three litre capacity, delivering 157bhp at 3600 rpm. This is matched to a six-speed manual gearbox with the option of a six-speed semi-automatic ‘Comfortmatic’ transmission.

The comprehensive internal specification includes Phoenix semi high-back seats with three-point seat belts, ABS backs and grab handles and which are mounted on Unwin tracking for easy removal or layout re-configuration. The flooring is anti-slip and all interior trim surfaces are wipe clean.

LED strip lighting supplemented by blue ambient spot lights adds to the pleasant environment within the saloon and a high quality CD/MP3 player with four speakers is standard. Heating is provided by a powerful 5kW Eberspacher heater with HVAC systems available as an option.

The compact size of Bonito will help make it more traffic compatible on busy urban streets and narrow rural roads. Overall it is 7509mm long, just 2200mm in width and the height is 2648mm with a wheelbase of 5000mm.

 

New: MetroCity urban bus

Designed to two-door TfL specification, the new Optare MetroCity is aimed at high intensity urban and suburban operations. Optare believes that it will be of particular appeal to operators in the Greater London area.

The model derives many of its design and structural features from the Versa model and uses the same fully integral stainless-steel structure to achieve low weight. It also shares the same distinctive styling operators have come to expect from Optare.

The model on display is the 10.6 metre variant with seating for 29 plus three tip-ups in the wheelchair bay and which, with standees, can carry up to 60 passengers. A 9.9 metre version is also available.

The power unit is the four cylinder Cummins ISBe rated at 185bhp with the four cylinder Mercedes-Benz OM904LA at 154bhp also being available. Both are matched to the Allison 2100 Series automatic transmission, which in MetroCity has six gears because the model uses a 5.13:1 ratio drive axle. A Klam electromagnetic retarder activated through the brake pedal improves braking performance and reduces wear on the service brakes.

The kneeling suspension and ‘Compak’ cassette type telescopic wheelchair ramp at the centre doorway ensure easy access for all passengers, irrespective of their level of mobility and the TfL compliant wheelchair bay incorporates a back rest and gangway stanchion. Fast recovery of the air into the air bags and the wide front entrance and centre exit door help to reduce dwell time at stops.

Optare’s Eco Drive™ instrument panel is standard and provides direct feedback to the driver through an easy to read TFT screen, monitoring key driver performance indicators such as acceleration and braking, and is an aid to better fuel efficiency and safer driving. The moulded driving compartment is easy to clean and features a fully adjustable, air-suspended seat and a fixed protection screen.

 

Optare Solo EV – all-electric model

Optare is demonstrating its leading position as the UK’s only manufacturer of full-size electric buses with an example of its Solo SR model.

The bus on display is one of two operated by Dorset County Council on a service connecting Poundbury - the internationally famous example of urban development which puts into practice the Prince of Wales’s ideas on town planning – with Dorchester.

The 9.0 metre model on show can carry 28 seated passengers including three tip-ups in the wheelchair/buggy bay. It is fully accessible for people of all levels of mobility thanks to its kneeling front suspension and fold out wheelchair ramp. Optare offers the model in other lengths up to 9.7 metres with passenger capacities of up to 37.

The Solo SR EV is driven by an Enova 120kW electric motor powered by 56 Valence lithium iron magnesium phospate batteries delivering 138 Ah, and it has a range of between 80 and 100 miles on a single six-hour overnight charge, costing as little as £6.40. This range can be significantly increased through the use of fast-charging technology to enable opportunity charging during breaks in the operating schedule. Operating cost savings are estimated in excess of £8,000 per bus per year, compared to a diesel powered equivalent.

One of the most significant benefits is the pollution-free operation of the bus, the drivetrain of which is fully zero emission. This means zero exhaust pollution: no PM10s, no nitrogen oxide, no carbon monoxide and no carbon dioxide. It is also very near silent in operation.