Britain’s leading bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) presents a selection of the market’s widest range of low and zero emission buses, as well as members of its Plaxton coach range, at Euro Bus Expo 2018. Bristling with innovations, ADL’s show vehicles underline the company’s position as a systems integrator and technology pioneer that puts customer collaboration at the centre of everything it does. In addition to its unrelenting focus on vehicle reliability, ADL’s Aftermarket division now delivers a personalised user experience with the new AD24 digital offering.
Chief Executive Colin Robertson set out ADL’s stall during a press briefing on the first day of Euro Bus Expo: “I am convinced this will be our best show yet. We position ourselves not only as the UK’s leading bus and coach manufacturer, but as a systems integrator and technology pioneer. We have a range of class-leading products bristling with technology with many brand new features being seen for the first time.
“Customer collaboration is at the centre of what we do. The new products and services we are bringing to market have been developed together with our customers to increase their operational efficiency and fleet reliability, to delight their passengers and to help respond to increasing environmental pressures. We’re continuing to invest in new product development as well as in our Aftermarket offering to make sure we deliver what our customers need. Their time and energy is a precious resource. It is in our gift to make sure this is spent productively by being easier to do business with.”
The continued drive for innovation does not detract from ADL’s core values, as Robertson explains: “Reliability is our cornerstone and will always be so – along with safety, it is non-negotiable and is the lifeblood of our business.”
AD24 personalises online Aftermarket user experience
The new AD24 digital offering makes doing Aftermarket business with Alexander Dennis easier by providing a one-stop solution encompassing parts sales, online training, online manuals, online service bulletins, a customer forum and the AD Connected vehicle solutions technology.
The new service redefines aftermarket support with industry-leading usability and a personalised user experience for customers, designed to offer an ideal solution for all of Alexander Dennis’s customers from the smallest private operators to large multinational groups. A 24/7 online parts shop is at the heart of AD24, with all makes’ parts easily searched combined with powerful options to display frequently purchased or saved items making it easier than ever to source high quality, original spare parts for Alexander Dennis buses, Plaxton coaches and other OEMs’ vehicles.
AD24 is live and available to UK operators at www.ad24.direct and its international rollout will commence in 2019.
Passenger-centric low and zero emission buses
Recognising that one size does not fit all and solutions to the air quality and climate challenges can be delivered in many guises, ADL offers the widest range of low and zero emission buses on the market and shows a selection of these at Euro Bus Expo 2018.
The successful BYD ADL partnership continues to lead the British market for electric buses with over 215 now delivered or firmly ordered and the Enviro400EV double decker on track to be launched in the first half of 2019. A new single deck Enviro200EV demonstrator will begin a tour of UK towns and cities after its appearance at Euro Bus Expo. It provides full zero emissions capability even on demonstrations thanks to a compact mobile EV charger that can be transported inside the vehicle and plugs into operators’ existing mains electricity.
The demonstrator has been built to a high specification that creates an atmosphere befitting its state-of-the-art environmental credentials with an electroluminescent ceiling as well as the provision of wireless phone charging on its two social seating tables – provided for the first time on a single deck bus – and a media shelf at the first raised row of seats.
Passengers will sit comfortably on the high-back ADL SmartSeat, which is now available with integrated passenger amenity consoles complete with wireless bell push, USB charger, phone holder, reading light and bag hooks.
Also featured is the SmartVision system that replaces traditional mirrors with high-definition digital cameras and displays mounted inside the cab for direct and clear visibility. With a wider angle covered and automatic adjustment of screen brightness as well as digital image correction to compensator for lighting, shadows and glare, SmartVision not only provides a safety benefit but also reduces the risk of mirror damage or injury to passengers or pedestrians.
The Enviro400 continues to be the UK’s favourite double deck bus thanks to its industry-leading reliability and the wide range of specification options available, as shown by two customer vehicles and a demonstrator on the ADL stand. Go South Coast has chosen the eye-catching City body style and SmartPack efficient diesel bus technology for its Bluestar operation in Southampton, while National Express Group picked a high-specification interior and SmartHybrid for its Xplore Dundee fleet.
The award-winning SmartPack and SmartHybrid technologies for efficient diesel buses have been developed in-house by ADL. They feature smart management of alternator and air compressor, engine stop-start technology and electrically-driven cooling fans. SmartHybrid adds a 48V mild hybrid system with long-lasting supercapacitor energy storage. Vehicles with both systems are accredited as Low Emission Buses by the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, entitling operators to increased BSOG rates.
Another Low Emission Bus option is the biogas-fuelled Enviro400CBG City, which ADL produces together with chassis and technology partner Scania. Shown on the Scania stand, the 100th of these buses demonstrates the green credentials of biogas.
ADL’s successful growth in the independent and retail market sectors has seen the Enviro400 developed into a high-capacity, executive-style vehicle suitable for private hire and corporate work that has found favour with coach as well as bus operators. A new 11.5m demonstrator, shown for the first time at Euro Bus Expo 2018, promotes this versatile option, packed with premium passenger-centric specification.
The single deck Enviro200 remains the UK’s leading vehicle in its class with a market share in excess of 65%. Its appeal ranges from stock-built vehicles ready for immediate delivery to built-to-order buses finished to a high specification such as that exemplified by a demonstrator shown in the outdoor display. In addition to SmartPack efficient diesel technology, it has bonded glazing, three large roof skylights, a glazed cab rear partition and double saloon passenger information displays. Its high-back ADL SmartSeats are trimmed in elegant black leather and fitted with integrated passenger amenity consoles and ambient under-seat lighting. Media shelves at the first raised row of seats complete the passenger-centric specification that combines just some of the wide range of options available across ADL’s complete range of low and zero emission buses.
British-built Plaxton coaches
ADL’s Plaxton coach brand is on track for a positive year with more than 200 coaches sold, showing the fruits of significant investment in two new coach models that complete the range.
The Plaxton Panorama double deck coach has been designed to give a high degree of specification options, allowing it to be geared towards a variety of uses. Acklams Coaches have become the first operator to buy the Panorama for touring work with the vehicle shown at Euro Bus Expo 2018. Fully seated for 87 passengers, it has been built to DDA-compliant standards, giving operational flexibility and ensuring high residual value.
Built on the Volvo B11RLE chassis, the Panorama is wheelchair accessible through either the front or centre door, depending on specification. A fully flat lower saloon floor with quick-release tracking throughout allows for multiple wheelchairs to be carried according to requirements. The flat-floor luggage hold has a full height walk-in door as well as lift-up loading flaps, while there are full-depth usable luggage racks in both saloons. Additional stowage can be provided with a removable internal luggage rack, and the Panorama is provisioned for a rear-mounted ski box.
The second addition to the Plaxton range is the innovative Panther LE low entry vehicle on Volvo B8RLE, combining bus accessibility with coach comfort. With a permanent forward-facing wheelchair bay in the accessible front section of the saloon that also offers 16 seats, the Panther LE is fully DDA-compliant without the need for a wheelchair lift. Further seating in the raised rear of the saloon brings the total number of seats to 53. A Panther LE test and demonstration vehicle is shown in the outdoor display.
The Plaxton Panther continues to be Britain’s best-selling touring coach and has been further improved with a new entrance step configuration. Featured on the Euro Bus Expo show vehicle, this introduces an extra step for easier access. Also new is the option of luxury seating with high headrests, which are given additional legroom by the 53-seat layout combined with a centre demountable toilet, servery and a second, dash-mounted fridge. Powered parallel lift locker doors to the nearside further add to the value of this coach, built on the fuel-efficient Volvo B8R chassis.
Completing the Plaxton line-up at Euro Bus Expo is a Cheetah XL in the outdoor display. A repeat order from York Pullman, this midicoach has the improved 230hp power rating as well as the revised entrance step arrangement for better accessibility.
Business update: 2018 on track for record sales
2018 has been a very strong year for Alexander Dennis and the company is on track to deliver record sales of £630m with 2,600 vehicles produced globally.
In the United Kingdom, the bus market shrank by 15% between 2015 and 2018 and the decline has accelerated in 2018 with a 20% fall forecast by year end. ADL’s investment in its portfolio strategy has paid off by allowing the company to maintain volume and grow market share. In London, this has steadily increased from 40% in 2016 to 70% this year and ADL has grown its activities in the independent and retail sectors by 46% in the last four years to around 300 vehicles in 2018 across Britain’s towns and cities.
However, Colin Robertson warns the business not to be complacent: “We have planned to ensure we remain resilient as we continue to improve our manufacturing agility in the UK, with restructuring around our cost base and offsetting the reduction in demand by bringing work in-house.”
Elsewhere, North America is a key strategic market ripe for expansion. Alexander Dennis has sold over 1,000 Enviro500 double deck buses to the United States and Canada, allowing the concept to transition from a quirky niche into a mainstream solution for commuter and transit applications. The company is expanding across existing customers and new transit authorities, and is now building the Enviro200 in its Nappanee, Indiana facility to accelerate this growth.
In Mexico, the fleet of 90 Enviro500 in Mexico City has been in full service since the start of 2018 and the buses are carrying in excess of 130,000 passengers per day, surpassing their target by as much as a third.
Activities in the Asia Pacific region have continued to grow in 2018 with 730 units sold and well over 4,000 vehicles into service across the region since the new Enviro500 was launched in 2012. The regional assembly operations in Malaysia and China are running at full pace to deliver the 2018 volumes, producing more than 20 vehicles a week. Demand in New Zealand is expected to normalise in 2019 following the completion of new fleet investment as part of the Auckland and Wellington Public Transport Operating Model. The peak replacement period of the cyclical Hong Kong market has also been completed along with some forward activity before the introduction of Euro 6, but Alexander Dennis is pleased to announce orders just received from KMB and Citybus for over 100 Enviro500 built to the new emissions standard.
In Europe, Enviro500 deliveries to Switzerland will continue in 2019 and Alexander Dennis has recently been selected to supply Berlin’s new fleet of double deck buses. This is a significant step for the company’s plans in the region, as Colin Robertson explains: “The framework contract is worth up to €220m, but in terms of strategic importance, the value is infinitely greater.”
Across all its markets, Alexander Dennis is committed to continue to invest to deliver its customers’ operational and environmental needs and investment in new product development will see record levels in 2018, putting the company on a resilient footing for the next years.