British BlOM makes debut
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• Leyland Bus rolled out the first UK-built Volvo BlOM chassis from its Workington plant this week.
The UK chassis will be built initially from CKD kits supplied from Sweden, but Leyland Bus is considering full UK manufacture. A total of 80 units will come out of Workington this year, increasing to 600 in 1992. At first the product will be geared to the UK market but it will be exported later as production gathers pace.
Leyland Bus managing director Ivan Wheatley says the construction of the BlOM marks the "completion of the first phase of renewal of the Workington plant". Volvo is investing 25m installing BlOM production at Workington and upgrading the factory. By 1991 all Leyland chassis will be built at Workington, and maximum total output will reach 3,000 chassis a year, including the Lynx and the Olympian.
A just-in-time supply system has also been adopted, which Wheatley says will yield "considerable cost savings".
Wheatley promised that investment in Workington would not be reduced despite low levels of demand and the laying off of 120 workers (CM 17-23 May). "Workington has previously been starved of investment. Now we gain both in quality of product and in plant flexibility," he says.
Speaking about the current sales slump, VL Bus and Coach managing director Sandy Glennie blamed the Government for the plummeting UK bus market: "The UK bus market size is based on politics. There is no incentive to buy buses and the bus barons are not replacing anything like the number of vehicles they should. It has become a very serious and worrying time for the industry."
Glennie sees little hope of the market picking up much before 1992.
The first completed UK-built Volvo B1OM chassis has been bought by Scottish PSV operator Park's of Hamilton, which runs a 100% Swedish-built Volvo fleet. The chassis will be bodied by Plaxton.