ADL and Wrightbus win lightweight orders
This week's £76million order announcement, for 464 buses, includes 142 Enviro300s and 179 StreetLites. Add 36 Enviro200s and 18 Optare Versas, and 90 per cent of the new single-deckers on order are in the sub-14-tonne class. The only heavy-duty single-deckers are 35 Wrightbus-bodied Volvo B7RLEs and two Volvo 7900 hybrids. These follow 29 hybrid 7900s ordered 12 months ago, and due to enter service next month.
The big winner is ADL, a company which under First's previous management did comparatively little business with the group. ADL will supply 222 vehicles, having secured the only double-deck business, 42 Enviro400s, plus two Plaxton Panther coaches. The Enviro300 order is the biggest placed for ADL's mid-weight single-decker.
Similarly, the StreetLite order is the biggest yet placed for the Wrightbus midi. The mix of specifications for the StreetLites has to be decided.
The orders are disappointing for Volvo, which for most of the last decade has, with Wrightbus, been the principal supplier of both single- and double-deckers to First.
“Investment in our bus division continues apace,” said Giles Fearnley, managing director of First UK Bus. “We are committed to growing our business and encouraging more people to use our services and to use them more often. These new buses will see our investment reach some £240million in nearly 1,500 vehicles over the last three years. This is enabling us to make a step change in the quality of service that we offer.”
All of the new buses will be wi-fi equipped. Fearnley adds: “Fitting wi-fi as standard is increasingly important for our customers and all the vehicles will have leather or e-leather seating. We are determined to be at the forefront of customer service across the British bus industry.”
Colin Robertson, chief executive of ADL, is understandably pleased. “We are delighted to be supplying almost 50 per cent of FirstGroup’s total new vehicle requirement this year,” he says. “It is an endorsement of our class-leading products and the business relationship we have grown and nurtured with FirstGroup in recent years, working with them to raise the bar for the whole industry. I am particularly pleased that 142 of the 222 buses we will build for them are ultra-fuel efficient, 14-tonne Enviro300 single decks. These are achieving 9 - 10 mpg, which is best-in-class and provides significant whole life fuel savings versus many vehicles in service today.”
Mark Nodder, Wright Group managing director, also picked up on fuel economy, describing the order as “a huge endorsement” of the StreetLite range. Nodder adds that the StreetLite “proved best in class in every category at fuel trials conducted at Millbrook Proving Grounds under the close scrutiny of FirstGroup’s engineers.”
FirstGroup orders 2013/14
42 Enviro400 double-deck
2 Plaxton Panther coaches
2 7900 Hybrids
To be confirmed