At Euro Bus Expo 2016 in Birmingham, Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) shows a range of products and support designed to respond to multiple stakeholders’ requirements. The UK’s biggest bus builder also reviews its continued success both in the United Kingdom and in international operations, and remains on track for another record breaking year.

With six vehicles exhibited on the stand and a further four outside, along with a spotlight on its industry-leading aftermarket support, ADL addresses the demands of multiple stakeholders.

  • For operators, ADL provides reliable, fuel efficient, well supported vehicles that achieve customers’ operational goals.
  • For passengers, ADL meets ever increasing expectations on what bus transport must deliver for them to consider it as a modal choice.
  • For city dwellers and the wider environment, ADL has responded to the unprecedented scrutiny around air quality, emissions levels and noise pollution by developing and using innovative driveline technology.

On track for another record year

While 2015 already was a record breaking year with ADL’s highest sales volume ever of vehicles and kits, the company is on track to exceed this result in 2016 with a global output in excess of 2,750 units. This success is reflected in ADL’s revenues, which are on target to exceed £600m for the second year in a row.

The United Kingdom is and will remain the bedrock of ADL’s business with 2,500 team members, the company’s headquarters and core functional teams making it a hotbed of bus and coach innovation.

Strong UK sales in the year to date mean that ADL enjoys an over 60% market share for new single deck buses and 50% of the market for double deck buses. The Enviro400 continues to go from strength to strength and ADL is currently on track to deliver over 1,000 diesel and hybrid Enviro400 to UK operators in 2016, more than ever before in one calendar year.

Plaxton continues to dominate the market for DDA compliant vehicles for scheduled routes around the UK thanks to its wide range of coach configurations and seating capacities.

ADL Chief Executive Colin Robertson said: “Next year will be tougher with a contracting market post-DDA and uncertainty resulting from the Brexit process, but we have a healthy forward order book at this point.”

The provenance of ADL’s state of the art components from suppliers outside the UK means that a significant number of components are sourced in currencies other than pound sterling. “A series of currency hedges will help to shield our customers from the brunt of this exposure in the short term. Whilst we are working as hard as we can to find ways to offset these cost increases, unless there is significant and consistent recovery in the value of sterling it is inevitable that, regrettably, we will have to increase prices next year,” said Robertson.

Improved fuel economy drives desire for ownership

Despite upcoming challenges, ADL remains unwavering in its commitment to the UK bus industry. The ten vehicles lined up at Euro Bus Expo 2016 – ADL’s biggest ever show presence – show how ADL responds to multiple stakeholders’ requirements.

Colin Robertson said: “We want to create a desire for ownership among operators, while remembering that our vehicles are essentially workhorses and cost of ownership is key. Proven, reliable, consistent vehicles are mandatory, but further improved fuel economy is a key lever in driving the operational success of our customers’ business.”

ADL offers a range of pioneering technology solutions which combine to get deliver meaningful, class-leading improvement in fuel economy. Together with weight optimisation, these allow ADL Enviro buses to be certified to Low Carbon Emission Bus (LCEB) standard.

  • E-Cooling replaces a single hydraulic fan with multiple electrically powered fans that enable independent cooling control of radiator and charge air cooler. Zero energy is used when there is no cooling requirement, and there are less engine bay hydraulics.
  • A range of innovative smart accessories is brought together in SmartPack. SmartAir and SmartCharge match auxiliary charging events from the alternator and compressor with deceleration periods when the engine is not drawing fuel. Stop/start technology, which ADL was the first bus manufacturer to introduce, stops the engine when the vehicle is stationary and the handbrake is applied.
  • SmartHybrid will be launched next year. A small electric motor, fed from supercapacitors, will boost acceleration to reduce the load on the diesel engine. Supercapacitors maintain their original performance over time and therefore will not have to be replaced. As a low voltage system, SmartHybrid also avoids complex electrical installations.

In multiple tests in an independently audited test track environment, Enviro400s with E-Cooling and SmartPack consistently achieved a 17% MPG improvement over a standard Euro 6 vehicle. This rose to 23% when SmartHybrid was added.

However, test environment data can be misleading when compared to real life scenarios due to variables such as driving style, weather, topography and passenger load.

Stuart Cottrell, Head of Advanced Engineering, said: “Millbrook is important but the only test ground which matters is the field. In order to provide complete transparency to our customers, we repeated the test in various real world applications on the streets of different cities throughout the UK with results showing fuel improvements of 13% for E-Cooling and SmartPack, and between 15% and 18% for the full set of E-Cooling, SmartPack and SmartHybrid.”

The Enviro400 City demonstrator that is the centrepiece of the Euro Bus Expo stand is fitted with E-Cooling and SmartPack, as is the National Express West Midlands Enviro400 in the outside display. Both are certified as LCEB vehicles.

Widest range of low and zero emission buses

ADL responds to the unprecedented scrutiny around air quality, emissions levels and noise pollution with the widest range of low and zero emission buses available on the bus market today.

Colin Robertson explained: “ADL has been championing this cause for some time and on top of developing our own cutting edge solutions, we seek out and partner with the best of the best. We have chosen world class partners whose strengths complement what we ourselves are good at in mutually beneficial relationships. We are pleased to show here at Euro Bus Expo how both approaches benefit our customers and our wider stakeholders.”

Developed in partnership with Scania, the Enviro400CBG is the UK’s first ever double deckgas bus. The placement of fuel cylinders within the staircase and under seats at the rear of the upper deck keeps saloon intrusion to an absolute minimum. Shown at Euro Bus Expo is one of the launch order of five for Reading Buses.

Robertson said: “We are delighted to be working with Reading Buses, who already are the UK’s biggest gas bus operator and a true pioneer in bringing innovation to the bus industry, as recognised as the current holder of the UK Bus Operator of the Year award.”

For zero emission electric buses, ADL works with BYD. Delivery of 51 Enviro200EV to Go-Ahead London is about to be completed. Running on busy central London routes 507 and 521, they are Europe’s largest fleet of battery buses and the first time an entire depot’s allocation has been switched from diesel to electric buses. Besides the bus displayed on the stand, visitors have the opportunity to experience its exceptionally smooth and quiet ride on a second vehicle which will provide short demonstration trips starting at the exhibition entrance.

ADL’s close partnership with BYD is bearing further fruits with 12 electric buses ordered by Arriva North West, who will use them in Liverpool.

Taking the passenger experience to a new level

Passengers expect buses to deliver an ever improving journey and trentbarton has long championed this. After nine Plaxton Elite coaches last year, the operator this year ordered its first new ADL buses in almost twenty years and one of these 22 Enviro200 is on show at Euro Bus Expo. trentbarton has specified some of the features that make the Enviro200 the passengers’ favourite. There is a strong focus on connectivity with free superfast Wi-Fi, USB power sockets at every seat and two multimedia shelves.

ADL is now ready to take the journey experience to a new level with the Passenger Plus specification pack, incorporated in the flagship Enviro400 City demonstrator. Passenger Plus brings together a wealth of features designed to enhance the appeal of bus travel:

  • Individual passenger amenities have been integrated into seatbacks. These Smart Consoles include wireless bell pushes, USB power sockets, dimmable LED lap lights, coat hooks and fold-down tables.
  • On the upper deck, single seats next to the staircase maintain passengers’ privacy while making it easy to move around at this potential pinch point.
  • Social seating is grouped around tables which have USB power sockets integrated in their surface. The social seating areas at the back of the top deck offer an unrivalled feeling of spaciousness thanks to the wrap-over SkyView rear window that complements three wide, glazed SkyLights along the length of the bus.
  • The absence of vertical hand rails gives the upper saloon a spacious, airy appearance that is enhanced by its deep side windows.
  • Ambient sensed and dimmable saloon lighting is complemented by LED downlighters to generate a mood lighting experience.
  • Spacious litter bins placed throughout the upper and lower saloons help keep the bus tidy.

The Passenger Plus pack is now ready to order and ADL will continue to work with operators to develop bespoke solutions that respond to their passengers’ expectations.

Autonomous Emergency Braking in buses protects pedestrians and cyclists

Enhanced safety for drivers and passengers is a built-in feature of all ADL vehicles, but the manufacturer now extends this philosophy to city dwellers as work on an Autonomous Emergency Braking System (AEBS) for buses is coming to fruition.

Unlike similar systems in coaches, which are primarily designed for motorway running, this AEBS focuses on situations typical to urban bus operation and prevents collisions not only with other motor vehicles, but also with pedestrians and cyclists. It utilises cameras fitted to the windscreen and radar sensors located behind the front dash.

First ADL buses with AEBS are currently undergoing rigorous testing to validate and calibrate the system ready for a market launch towards the end of next year in the Enviro200 and Enviro400 ranges.

Class-leading aerodynamics in updated Plaxton Elite at top of coach range

Eight years after it was first launched, the top of the range Plaxton Elite coach has received a makeover which gently updates the stunning lines that give the design its ‘wow factor’ kerb appeal.

New headlight clusters provide a reassuring family look in line with all Plaxton coaches. The Elite’s already excellent aerodynamics have been further improved with subtle changes to substantially bring down operating cost:

  • Speed dependent chassis lowering is activated when the Elite exceeds a speed of 50mph and automatically lowers the vehicle by 20mm to reduce aerodynamic drag. The lower profile is maintained until the speed falls to 44mph.
  • Using computational fluid dynamics techniques validated in real-world tests, engineers refined adjustments to the underside of the vehicle which streamline air flows.
  • New deflectors on the rear pillars reduce the wake of the vehicle.

Combined, these changes give the Elite a class-leading drag coefficient of 0.33 and improve fuel efficiency by 4% compared with the existing model.

Vital safety and driver assistance technology continues to be provided by the Volvo B11R chassis on which the Elite is based. This includes Lane Departure Warning, Emergency Brake Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control functions. The radar sensor for these has now been integrated into the Plaxton logo on the front dash.

The new look Elite is available on three axles – represented on the Euro Bus Expo stand by a 14m model for Country Lion – and as a 12.6m two axle coach, as shown in the outside display with an example for Acklams Coaches.

Affordable Plaxton Panther Exec further broadens coach range appeal

The Plaxton Panther Exec on Volvo B8R chassis, which has its show debut at Euro Bus Expo after appearing at the UK Coach Rally earlier in the year, combines versatility with economy to offer an affordable executive coach that does not compromise on any of the features that have made the Panther one of Britain’s favourite coaches.

The B8R chassis comes with Volvo’s smooth running 7.7-litre, six-cylinder Euro 6 engine, with power transmitted through the chassis builder’s I-Shift automated unit as standard. A ZF EcoLife fully automatic gearbox is optionally available. In addition to state of the art safety systems – Electronic Stability Program, Anti-lock Braking System, Acceleration Slip Regulation and 5th generation Electronic Braking System – the driver is supported by Lane Departure Warning and Emergency Brake Assist technologies.

The 12.8m Panther Exec can be specified with a class-leading 61 passenger seats, although Hodgsons Coaches, whose vehicle is shown at Euro Bus Expo, have opted for 57 seats and a demountable, centre sunken toilet.

The Panther continues to be available on Volvo B11R chassis. The wide Plaxton range also includes the Elitei interdeck, the high capacity Leopard and the Cheetah XL midicoach, an example of which is exhibited in the Euro Bus Expo outside display.