Putting on a brave face
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For this year's Coach & Bus exhibition the Birmingham NEC played host to a record number of new vehicles. But many of the 300 exhibitors were questioning whether their customers will be able to afford them in the current economic climate.
II The Government announced plans to encourage a "thriving bus and coach industry" and the Bus & Coach Council launched its Year of Coach Travel campaign at the third Bus and Coach exhibition. But exhibitors were doubtful if this would be enough to raise the spirits of the industry members — 12,000 of whom visited the show over the three days.
But the uncertainty did not stop manufacturers from launching products. Iveco Ford launched four. Its new doubledecker chassis, the TurboCity 100, made its UK debut with an aluminium Walter Alexander body.
For the first few years the Falkirk-based bodybuilder has sole rights on the 10.7m underframe, which is fitted with a 9.5litre, six-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine. The whole unit will cost £104,500.
The single-decker TurboCity 50, which will cost £93,500, was also on show. A bodybuilder has yet to be chosen for the singledecker, which is virtually identical to the 100 except that it does not have alloy wheels, although Walter Alexander is a likely candidate. The singledecker is available as a 10.7m or 12m. Iveco Ford also unveiled new additions to its DailyBus range, which has reached production of 2,000 for the UK since its launch in the mid-1980s.
It unveiled a factory-built integral DailyCoach A49.10, which is available from £29,000. The A49.10 is based on the HiCube van's pressed steel bodyshell and is available in three levels of comfort.
The 59.12 DailyBus is another addition. It has a higher capacity than previous models with space for up to 29 seated. Neal Ford's 2.5-litre directinjection diesel has been air-toair charge-cooled to deliver 85kW (116hp) at 3,800rpm — a 12% increase over the existing engine. The 59.12 can carry bodywork up to 7.68m long with 4,180mm and 4,480mm wheelbases, priced at £18,853 and £.19,789 respectively.
Mercedes-Benz has uprated its small PCV range. It showed its first 711D as a PCV with a 85.8kW (115hp) engine and Reeve Burgess bodywork. Changes have also been made to its 811D bus chassis, including the introduction of an air/hydraulic brake system; comfort suspension; and the option of an Allison AT542 automatic gearbox. The front axle has been upgraded from 2.5 to 2.8 tonnes and the gross vehicle weight uprated from 7.2 to 7.5 tonnes.
Mercedes-Benz also showed its 0405 citybus chassis cowl, which will be available in the UK next year. Walter Alexander is taking the first 11.5m chassis, which has capacity for up to 53 seated and 24 standing.
About 8,000 0405s have been produced since the launch five years ago to Continental, Far Eastern and Australasian operators. The complete unit, which will cost about £90,000 for UK operators, is powered by a horizontal rear-mounted engine, which produces 157kW (214hp) through a ZF HP500 automatic gearbox with an integral retarder (CM 22-28 Aug). The first complete unit will use a variation of Walter Alexander's PS-type aluminium body and will be built next year.
Walter Alexander unveiled its new aluminium body called the Dash, which is available on the Dennis Dart and Volvo B6R midi chassis. Priced at more than £25,000, it uses features from Alexander's AM midi and full size PS-type single-decker body.
Northern Counties, which was taken over by an administrator six months ago, has unveiled prices for its new Countybus body. The all-aluminium body will cost about £55,000 with an 8.5m Dennis Dart chassis, and £90,000 on a Volvo citybus chassis.
The structure of the new body is jig built from sheet and aluminium alloys. The body on the Dart can take up to 31 seated and 13 standing with 49 seated and 21 standing on the Volvo citybus MK HI.
Optare's much-talked-about double-deck Alusuisse body on the Daf DB 250 underframe made an appearance at the show.
The 81-seater, called the Spectra, costs about £108,000 for the standard one-door version. The two-door option adds about £2,000 to the price.
Cleckheaton-based dealer Hughes Daf unveiled a new concept single-decker bus, with room for 35 seated and 45 standing. It has an Ikarus body, fitted to Dais SB220 underframe — soon to be available with a new environmentally friendly engine from Daf.
The 11.56m bus is fitted with a Daf air suspension system, which can lower the first step height from 315mm to 250mm in three seconds and lift it back in half the time.
Daf's SB3000 DKV 12m chassis was shown with Salvador Caetano's Algarve II new bodywork. The new coach, which will replace the existing eightyear-old design, is available on Volvo, Daf, Dennis and MAN chassis. Eight Algarve us have been bought from operators including Reliant of Ibstock on a Daf SB3000 DKV and Jeff's Coaches on a Volvo BlOM GL MK III. The main body construction is based on a jig assembled, allmetal structure, with front and rear styling panels in GRP. Waist panels are one-piece stressed steel, extending from the window to the floor line, with aluminium skirt panels and GRP hinged wheelarches. The interior has been completely redesigned.
As standard the Algarve II comes at the Volvo and Daf body height of 3.5m, but. it is available at 3.3m on the Dennis Javelin and 3.2m on the MAN 11.180.
A standard 53-seater Algarve 11-bodied Volvo B1OM will cost around £116,000; Caetano is selling off 11 original Algarves with discounts of up to £15,000.
Kassbohrer announced at the show that it plans to bring its new Setra to the UK in 1995. The coach will be launched at the PCV show in Kortrijk, Belgium. Plaxton showed its new Premiere and Excalibur bodies alongside the Verde citybus fitted with a Voith threespeed automatic transmission on the Scania N113 chassis.
Plaxton's sister firm Mellor Coachcraft showed its first accessible bus conversion on Renault's B Series chassis-cowl, which will go to Kirklees Metropolitan council. Its prices start at around £33,000.
Avondale International showed its Quasar body on the Renault B Series chassis-cowl. Its range starts from £30,000.
Production of Volvo's B6R midibus chassis will move from Austria to Workington during 1992. It will cost around £37,000.
Volvo also announced an order at the show from Stagecoach for 70 Olympian chassis with Volvo double-deck bodies.