Royal wave to Lions and Tigers
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• Leyland Bus is dropping the Royal Tiger integral coach, the Lion double-deck chassis, as well as the TL-I1 engine from its product range as part of a rationalisation programme following its takeover by Volvo Bus Corporation.
Production of the Swift midibus chassis, Tiger coach chassis and Olympian double-deck chassis will continue at Farington with the Lynx single-deck bus at the Workington plant. The Volvo BlOM chassis will join Leyland Bus' production lines by the end of next year. Volvo says it hopes to build 1,000 BlOMs a year in the UK.
Caretaker managing director Jurgen Bahr (who will be replaced by newly appointed John Arkell who is currently with Volvo VME, the earthmoving machine manufacturer) said last week: "The Royal Tiger was a good product, but commercially it wasn't good enough. There are plenty of good bodybuilders around and for this reason we are deleting it from the range."
After the withdrawal of the Royal Tiger — when TL11 production stops at the end of '88 — Workington will initially be left to concentrate on Lynx production and double-deck bodybuilding for the Olympian.
The decision to kill-off the Royal Tiger reflects Volvo's policy of keeping away from integral coaches — the ClOM, Volvo's Swedish integral, was dropped two years ago for similar reasons.
Leyland Bus's Lion will also be dropped by the end of this year. It is also powered by the TL-11 and earlier in the year speculation was rife that the Lion would be kept on and reengineered to accept the Cummins L10 engine. Bahr confirms that present orders for the TL-11 Lion will be fulfilled, but production will cease on completion of these orders.
The Farington plant will continue with the B Series Cummins-powered Swift midibus and the Olympian doubledeck chassis with a Cummins/ ZF driveline. The Tiger coach chassis will also continue, primarily with a Cummins power unit. The Workington assembly plant has inherited jigs from the defunct Eastern Coachworks, and currently produces one double-decker body a week. It also builds the Leyland Lynx with a Currunins/ZF driveline, though the Gardner engine is an option.
It is clear that Volvo Bus wants Leyland to continue as a separate company. Bahr stated last week that the Leyland name will remain as will its own product range: "We want a revolutionary process without the revolution," says Bahr. "No major changes are being made other than those which would have been instigated, buyout or not."
By continuing with Leyland Bus's present range, Volvo believes it has a good chance of penetrating the European, and particularly the central European markets following harmonisation in 1992: "We will adapt to these markets. This might mean using Volvo components on the Leyland," says Bahr. but have no plans to bring in Volvo parts until then." • Despite careful separation of the Volvo and Leyland manufacturing plants, dealerships are preparing to become multifranchise outlets handling in the two product ranges. Bahr sees this as a parallel to Volvo's American truck dealerships, where a client can buy both Volvo and White products — two very different ranges available under one roof. Volvo franchises abroad will also offer the Leyland range.
Leyland Bus parts will remain available at the Leyland Daf parts centres and will be centrally distributed from Chorley. The parts agreement with Charley reflects levels of cooperation in the industry unheard of 20 years ago.
Chassis and components are still going to DAB (previously Leyland Bus in Denmark) although Daf engines are now replacing the Leylands.
The rationalisation of the range will not cause redundancies, says Bahr: "In fact, we will be looking to increase our staff levels as the demand for Olympians and Lynx is rising dramatically. Additional Volvo products such as the BlOM will necessitate extra personnel."
Leyland employees will receive 30 Volvo shares each as part of the Volvo Leyland deal. Volvo shares were trading at just over £31 on the Swedish stock market earlier this week.