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No stopping the bus as ADL heads towards record year

Published: 30 Sep 2015

UK, Canada and Switzerland set to introduce new double deck variants.

The Phoenix-like rise of Scottish bus builder Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) goes from strength-to-strength with the company expecting to increase turnover by 20% to £600m this year.

30th September 2015

Speaking at Coach & Bus Live, one of the biggest showcase events in the European exhibition calendar, CEO Colin Robertson said that 2015 is shaping up for a  record year of output, turnover, profitability, market leadership and growth in international territories. In the past 12 months ADL has won a steady 46% share of the UK bus market and with busy production lines at factories in Central Scotland, Yorkshire and Surrey – and demanding delivery schedules in the next three months – Robertson expects the business to remain comfortably ahead of its rivals at the year-end. He commented: “This year we will build in excess of 2,600 buses, twice that of our principal UK manufacturing competitor. These vehicles will be split 50-50 between home and export markets and, in addition, we will body around 200 coaches at our Scarborough facility. “All of that will push our turnover up from £500m in 2014 to £600m this year and, similarly, I expect to see a significant increase in our underlying profitability, a large part of which will fund our on-going £15m investment programme.”

Three New Double Decks En Route

Robertson surprised an audience of journalists and industry experts at the NEC, in Birmingham, when he took the wraps of a stylish new double deck bus that has already secured multi-million orders in London – and then revealed plans for two further, revolutionary products designed specifically for export markets, one of which is already the subject of a £250m deal.                                                                                                          He said: “The bus we are launching today is a spectacular, new-look vehicle that will bring a further dimension to transport in the suburbs and the city centre of London – and ultimately to other locations across the UK. It features a raked wrap-around driver’s windscreen, a glazed stairwell, hopper vents in both the lower and upper deck windows, and a range of other design features that significantly reduce solar gain. “Combined with the radical heating and ventilation system we introduced to all new ADL models recently, the Enviro400H City is set to introduce not only a contemporary, stylish look but an enhanced passenger experience. Furthermore, it is a combination of revolution and evolution, building on the proven technology that has made our low-emission hybrids market leaders – and established them as best-in-class in terms of fuel economy, reliability and durability.” Robertson went on to say that Arriva London has placed an order for 19 of the new City models, all of which will go into service later this year – and he confirmed that “positive discussions” are underway with a number of other major operators. He also surprised his NEC audience with news that a £250m deal for up to 400 buses in Toronto, Canada, will involve the design and manufacture of a “SuperLo”, three-axle Enviro500 double deck.  

He commented: “At just 12’ 10” (3.9m) the SuperLo will be our lowest-ever double deck – but will still punch well above its height. It will carry 83 passengers and has been designed to overcome the numerous low bridge restrictions that currently curtail double deck services in many parts of Toronto and the Greater Hamilton region. “The initial order is for 250 vehicles with an option for a follow-up 150 and we are now forging ahead with the establishment of a 45,000 square foot chassis manufacturing facility in Toronto to support this initiative. Interestingly, the SuperLo also incorporates a secure, isolated luggage compartment of 212 cubic feet, making it ideal for inter-urban services, which opens up another potentially lucrative market sector.” Elsewhere, ADL will deliver 900 double decks to Hong Kong this year, securing 80% of the market, while it is also in the process of introducing a mix of 120 single and double deck vehicles into Kuala Lumpur, in Malaysia. In New Zealand, it has also had a major break-through following a government decision to relax weight restrictions on trucks and buses, resulting in ADL winning orders for 39 high capacity Enviro500 double decks. These will be bodied by Kiwi Bus, ADL’s build partners in NZ and the majority will operate in the Auckland area. The third of Colin Robertson’s unexpected new product announcements  will impact on a market nearer to home, namely Switzerland, where the country’s biggest supplier of road-based transport – PostAuto – which operates over 2,200 vehicles, has indicated its intention to introduce a fleet of 19 double decks. This is ADL’s first double deck order in Continental Europe and all 19 will go into service on challenging, steep incline routes around the St. Gallen area where a demo vehicle performed well in trials this summer. The first of the Enviro500s, all of which will be three-door, two-staircase models with complete flat floors, will go into operation in the last quarter of 2016. Colin Robertson commented: “This is an interesting development that again opens up new market opportunities, particularly as PostAuto is constantly increasing its presence in Swiss cities, conurbations and neighbouring territories.”