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CVE's Omni puts safety first

8th September 1988
Page 18
Page 18, 8th September 1988 — CVE's Omni puts safety first
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• A new low-floor minibus, the Omni, has been launched by City Vehicle Engineering of Shildon in County Durham. In a 24 million operation the 23seater has been developed by CVE from a Steyr vehicle for which CVE has the design rights. CVE plans to build up to 600 Omnis a year.

The 6.6m Omni has an integral welded box section steel frame built on jigs and achieves its low floor height — just under 300mm from the ground — by having front-wheel-drive and 16th wheels. It uses a Land Rover four-cylinder engine rated at 63kW at 4,000rpm linked to a ZF 4DS18 four-speed synchromesh transaxle. CVE is considering either automatic transmission or some form of powershift manual gearbox for 1989.

The Omni has dual-circuit hydraulic brakes with discs at the front and drums at the rear. ZF power steering is fitted and there is a 100-litre fuel tank behind the engine.

The front suspension uses coil springs with air bags at the rear. For welfare applications, the rear suspension can be lowered to allow wheel-chair passengers to gain access by a ramp, instead of a tail-lift.

The exterior panelling is glass-reinforced plastic, and inside extensive use is made of soft trim. A variety of seating layouts is available, including the provision of wheel-chair anchorage points. Skirting heating radiators are standard.

Air-operated The entrance is 850rmn wide and has air-operated double folding doors.

A separate cab door is provided for the driver, who sits high above the offside front wheel. A luggage pen is fitted over the nearside front wheel.

In developing the Omni for the UK market, CVE has made use of computer-aided design and finite element analysis. The frame has been rollover tested to EEC standard PSV66 and the seats are bolted direct to the chassis, rather than to the floor.

The Omni costs 226,000 in PSV form and carries a fouryear unlimited-distance warranty and a five-year anticorrosion guarantee which can be extended to 10 years.

CVE has so far received orders for 25 Omnis, including three for Durham County Council and five for Ashbourne Homes. Two of the Durham vehicles will be used on local bus services funded by the Rural Development Commission; the third will be a welfare bus.

The company has 70 employees — to be increased to 100 by the end of the year — and predicts that its sales, (with a target of around 400 in the first 12 months) will be split almost equally between the welfare and PSV markets. Another order for 25 Omnis, from a PSV operator, is also expected soon.

Planned developments include a left-hand-drive version, which would augment Steyr's limited production capacity, and would be marketed in Europe by Steyr. CVE also sees potential for Omni-based ambulances, vans and motor homes and is looking at alternative power units from Mercedes and Perkins.

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