The coming month sees two key trade shows that provide an opportunity for the industry to meet and witness the latest technological developments. At Coach & Bus UK, there will undoubtedly be a shared sense of sadness about the demise of Wrightbus which went into administration this week having failed to find an investor prepared to inject enough cash into the business.
It is of course still possible that there could be a rescue of sorts – the modern way, aided and abetted by our insolvency laws, encourages potential rescue bidders to hold off until after administration so that they can pick up the assets more cheaply and avoid the cost of paying creditors.
But there will also be plenty to cheer us up with a range of new vehicles at the NEC and more of them at the new home for Busworld Europe in Brussels later in the month.
Electric vehicles will clearly be leading the way. It’s not that long ago that commentators (including some contributors to this magazine) were stating that electric vehicles might be fine for a few niche operations on airports for example, but not much beyond. Too expensive, too heavy and too limited in range was the assessment. Well, time, technology and innovation means we are now in a very different place.
And not just buses, the first electric coaches are now here. Yes, there are real challenges about charging logistics for operating a vehicle well away from its base, but the new models from Yutong and Van Hool/Proterra in particular could be game-changers.
Electricity is not the only player in town of course when it comes to zero carbon for coaches. Fuel cell could play a role, if it can achieve competitive costings and ensure it is genuinely low carbon when producing the source fuel. And the same goes for biogas.
I have been delighted to have joined the jury this year for the Sustainable Bus of the Year award, alongside journalists from magazines across Europe. The winners will be announced at the opening event of Busworld; look forward to seeing you there.