Rally-inspired Transit Custom gets off the mark

11 December 2019

The Wales-based converter behind some of the sportiest versions of the Ford Transit Custom has launched its latest model.

MS-RT’s latest offering – the R185 limited edition – draws on styling and technology pioneered by Ford’s works rally team.

In all, 40 examples of the QVM-approved model will be produced at the firm’s factory in Pontypool.

MS-RT Founding Director, Edward Davies, said: “The MS-RT Transit Custom has already been a huge success and we’ve developed the R185 in response to customer demand for something even more bespoke.

“The limited-edition model is sure to sell out very quickly and become an icon among fans of the MS-RT brand.”

IVECO and Nikola unveil first truck collaboration

11 December 2019

The first images of the eagerly-anticipated Nikola TRE have been released.

The truck is the first vehicle to result from the joint venture between CNH Industrial, parent company of IVECO, and Nikola, the US-based electric powertrain specialist.

The vehicle is based on the IVECO S-WAY heavy-duty truck launched last July and integrates Nikola’s advanced electric technology and new-generation proprietary infotainment system.

The vehicle’s striking looks are the result of a collaboration between Nikola and Italdesign.

Gerrit Marx, President Commercial and Specialty Vehicles at CNH Industrial, said, “The IVECO S-WAY is a stand-out product, which embodies IVECO’s concept of customer-centricity and has already gained momentum in the markets with well-deserved success. It marks the beginning of a new journey towards zero-emissions trucking, providing the platform for us to introduce disruptive features that will change the transport industry.”

The vehicle displayed at the event is a maquette of the Nikola TRE 4×2 tractor for regional missions, with a range of up to 400 km and dynamic performance equal or better than a diesel equivalent model. The vehicle will feature a modular battery system with a total capacity of up to 720 kWh, which can be tailored to match customer requirements. The electric driveline will deliver 480 kW Continuous Power Output with 1,800 Nm Peak Torque.

The Nikola TRE will also be available in 2- and 3-axle rigid versions, with GVW ranging from 18 to 26 tonnes for urban distribution and municipality missions.

It is expected that the first units will be delivered to customers in 2021.

FEATURE: Growing demand for bus electrification draws major investment

11 December 2019

The drive towards greater electrification of the world’s public transport seems to gather pace by the day.

Barely a week goes by without another town, city or municipality somewhere in the world renewing their fleet to electric or alternatively fuelled buses.

And it’s with this booming worldwide market in mind that UK-based electrification company, Equipmake, this week opened a new, purpose-built factory in Snetterton, Norfolk.

The new state-of-the-art 1,500 sq ft facility will design and manufacture the company’s fully-integrated electric bus chassis and help it cope with a surge in international demand.

Equipmake Electric bus factory, Snetterton business Park, Norfolk.
Liz Truss with Managing Director Ian Foley.

The company has seen its order bank grow over the past two years, with more interest from overseas and changing buying patterns industry-wide, seeing it outgrow its former premises in nearby Hethel and increase its team from 15 to 52.

Equipmake’s innovative chassis allows any bus coachbuilder to become a full electric bus manufacturer virtually overnight.

It’s this adaptability that saw the EBus Chassis development programme attract £7.5 million of funding from the Advanced Propulsion Centre. Involving multiple partners lead by Equipmake, the grant funding is designed to take the bus to production.

Equipmake has already entered the final testing phase of its single decker EBus platform, with UK-based performance and durability development set to finish at the end of the year.

In-service trials will then begin in Q1 2020 by Brazilian commercial vehicle manufacturer, Agrale, who will launch the electric bus first in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2021. Thanks to efficient management of its onboard heating and cooling system, the bus – a 12m single deck model capable of carrying 70 passengers – will have enough electric range for one day’s running without the need for charging. To charge the vehicle, the operator simply needs access to a standard three-phase supply, which will fully charge it in around five hours. Equipmake will begin double decker chassis trials later this year.

Speaking after the opening, Managing Director of Equipmake, Ian Foley said, “I am proud to open this facility and very grateful for the funding we have received from the UK Government through the Advanced Propulsion Centre. It has supported us in the design and development of a highly innovative and in-demand product, showing that a relatively small company from Norfolk can become a global technology leader.”

Despite only being at an early stage in the process, the signs are good for Equipmake moving forward, highlighted by Ian Foley, “There is huge demand for clean, affordable electric buses with a worldwide market of around 300,000 vehicles per annum, and that is only growing as cities strive to improve urban air quality.

“Manufacture of the powertrain will scale dramatically over the next few years and our target is 700 EBus chassis for South America alone in the first year of production. That is why our new bespoke facility here in Snetterton is so important – it is crucial to fulfilling requirements from international customers for both single and double decker applications.”

Opening the new facility, Liz Truss, Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade, said, “I am delighted to open Equipmake’s new electric bus factory today. It’s fantastic to see world-leading technology produced here in Norfolk and the fact that these buses are being exported globally further underlines the depth of talent that exists along the A11 technology corridor.

“Equipmake is a shining example of an innovative engineering company. We are committed to increasing R&D tax credits to support ventures like this. I wish Equipmake every success for the future.”

ACEA calls for radical policy reforms

11 December 2019

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) has said the transition to carbon-neutral and zero emission freight transport cannot happen without radical policy changes by the European Union and the governments of all member states.

Speaking on the occasion of the COP25 UN climate conference, the organisation’s Commercial Vehicle Board – made up of the CEOs of Europe’s truck makers – said a fresh approach was crucial to achieving emissions and clean air targets.

“When we look at the total fleet of transport operators today, it is clear that the market will need to be completely turned around in an extremely short timeframe,” said Gerrit Marx, Chairman of ACEA’s Commercial Vehicle Board and President of CNH Industrial Commercial Vehicles and Speciality.

Among the policies called for by the group is the rapid roll-out of dedicated charging and refuelling infrastructure for trucks and putting in place meaningful incentives to make these vehicles a commercially-viable and competitive choice for transport operators, thereby fostering fleet renewal.

Bike-friendly buses enter service

11 December 2019

Borders Buses has taken delivery of new buses designed to encourage greater use of bicycles.

The 10 Enviro200 single deckers, built by Alexander Dennis, each incorporates two on-board bike racks and a top-end specification that includes wood effect flooring, leather seats, USB charging points, audio and visual passenger information systems, mobile phone holders and stop buttons at every seat, plus free Wi-Fi.

The bike buses, as they are now referred to by passengers, have been introduced following a pilot scheme undertaken on the busy Peebles to Edinburgh route earlier this year. Its aim was to determine the demand for a greener transport solution focused on reducing car journeys, traffic congestion and encouraging active travel.

The pilot scheme was so successful that Borders Buses has moved quickly to introduce the 10 new, hi-spec Enviro200s on three key routes, the X95 Carlisle to Edinburgh via Hawick and Galashiels, the X62 Galashiels to Edinburgh via Peebles and the 253 Berwick to Edinburgh service via Dunbar and Haddington.

In addition, a further 10 Enviro200s will be introduced by the end of February next year, all forming part of the multi-million drive by Borders Buses to establish Scotland’s first wide-spread network of bike friendly bus routes. Each of the 20 new ADL single deck buses is fitted with two bicycle racks and has seating for 38 passengers. They are powered by Cummins six-cylinder, low emission engines with stop-start capability and have Voith automatic transmissions.

Colin Craig, Managing Director of parent company West Coast Motors, said: “The areas we cover include some of the most popular destinations in the UK for cyclists and our trials on the X62 Galashiels-Peebles-Edinburgh route have proved conclusively that pedal power and horsepower do work together.

“We very much see bus as part of the active travel solution and this initiative introduces a fantastic new dimension to sustainable greener travel. We recognise cyclists are prepared to ditch their cars for our bike-and-bus combination, all of which is great news in terms of reducing traffic congestion and vehicle emissions, enhancing the environment and encouraging people to jump on a bike and get active.”

Daimler begins 3D printing of parts

11 December 2019

Daimler Buses is taking an innovative approach to spare parts…producing them directly from a 3D printer.

The new system, which will see top quality parts manufactured and customised to meet customer requirements, will mean parts are available more quickly.

Using 3D printing, Daimler’s bus division can quickly, flexibly, economically and environmentally responsibly react to urgent customer requirements, and in particular in the case of rarely ordered components or special customer requests.

This includes covers and handles, and even extends as far as a diverse range of individual brackets.

Today, complex, non-safety-relevant 3D printed components, which until now comprised several individual components such as plastic caps for metal fixtures and hinges, are already being used in interiors of Daimler models.

However, the brand’s Centre of Competence for 3D Printing is examining the feasibility of more than 300,000 parts from across its range for possible 3D printing.

Huge e-bus order goes to BYD

11 December 2019

Keolis Nederland BV – the Dutch subsidiary of global public transport provider Keolis – has awarded what is believed to be the largest ever single order for electric buses in Europe to BYD.

The order is made up of 259 pure-electric BYD eBuses which will start entering service from next summer.

The deal was reached after Keolis and BYD agreed a whole-life package which delivers a total transport solution and takes into account operational needs and passenger comfort requirements.

Afterwards, BYD Europe Managing Director, Isbrand Ho, said, “This is a momentous occasion for BYD and also represents a huge commitment to electric mobility since it becomes the largest European fleet ever switched to electric at one time”

The deal will see BYD’s 8.7-metre midi bus, 12-metre and new 13-metre eBus models enter service from the end of 2020 on routes throughout the Netherlands’ IJssel-Vecht region, including front-line operations in the municipalities of Zwolle, Apeldoorn and Lelystad.

The majority of the Keolis order comprises 206 of BYD’s best-selling 12-metre model all of which will be equipped with pantographs.

Frank Janssen, CEO Keolis Nederland, said, “It is another milestone for Keolis Nederland and the Keolis Group in developing and deploying electromobility solutions around the world and it reaffirms our commitment to supporting public transport authorities in the transition to sustainability.

“We’ve chosen BYD due to our excellent experience with their e-buses. These are a fundamental part in our daily operation to the full satisfaction of our passengers and employees. Furthermore, we trust in BYD’s expertise as a manufacturer in developing and maintaining battery-packages.”

Mellor makes headway with Durham County Council

11 December 2019

British vehicle manufacturer Mellor has delivered seven of its Orion Plus low floor buses to Durham County Council.

The Orion Plus was carefully designed and engineered to run on narrow streets and rural routes without compromising on passenger numbers. This makes it the ideal choice for the centre of historic Durham and the surrounding countryside.

Chris Prince, Durham County Council’s Strategic Fleet Team Manager, said, “We have heard great things about the reliability, adaptability and fuel efficiency of the Orion Plus, so had no hesitation in placing our first order.

The new buses will mostly be used as accessible welfare vehicles. The adaptable interior of the Orion Plus means accessible transport can be offered to all.

The council has ordered buses in 16-seat configuration, allowing for wheelchair access, but each can carry up to 22 passengers.

UK new van market down -9.6% in November

05 December 2019

  • UK new van market falls for third consecutive month, down -9.6% in November.
  • Most segments experience double digit declines, but pickups buck trend, up 17.2%.
  • Performance year-to-date up 1.9% with 338,227 models registered for UK roads.

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UK new light commercial vehicle (LCV) registrations fell -9.6% in November, the third consecutive monthly decline, according to the latest figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Market uncertainty and regulatory changes continued to affect performance, with some 2,797 fewer models registered in the month as all van categories and 4x4s experienced double digit declines.

In November, registrations of small vans weighing less than 2.0 tonnes and medium vans weighing 2.0-2.5 tonnes fell by -24.0% and -19.4% respectively. Demand for larger vans weighing 2.5-3.5 tonnes also declined, down -11.4%, and the 4×4 segment fell too, down -12.4%, while pickups were the only category to see growth, up 17.2%. Performance in the year to date is still up, however, rising 1.9%, with an extra 6,451 new LCVs joining UK roads.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

A third consecutive month of decline for new van registrations is concerning, particularly after growth for much of the year. Ongoing political uncertainty doesn’t help inspire business confidence but this is essential if we are to embolden further investment in new vehicles which will go a long way to improving air quality in our towns and cities.

Duo team up with to offer new solutions

04 December 2019

Telematics specialists Teletrac Navman and logistics and delivery software business Stream have entered into a new strategic partnership.

The arrangement will see the companies work together to develop new solutions for transport and logistics operators.

Teletrac Navman’s telematics data will enhance Stream’s products by providing detailed reporting on driver performance, idling time, vehicle usage outside scheduled hours and fuel consumption.

This data enables operators to improve driver behaviour on the road, better protect its high-value assets, reduce maintenance requirements and insurance premiums.

Peter Millichap, Marketing Director at Teletrac Navman, said, “The synergies between our businesses is evident and we’re already exploring conversations with a number of current and prospective customers who we believe this will add real value to their operations.”

Dave Pickburn, Founder and Director at Stream, said, “This is very much a partnership that offers operators something more than just the sum of the two parts. We can effectively provide them more added value, collective data and operational tools than ever before, so it’s an exciting prospect to take to market.”