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New integrated Wrightbus double-deck

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WRIGHTBUS is launching a new integrated double-deck bus next year which will provide a single platform for both hybrid and conventional diesel models.

With its as-yet-unnamed double-deck, the Ballymena-based manufacturer is breaking the traditional body-on-chassis mould that has seen it increase production to close to 1,000 vehicles a year. Although the new double-deck has a VDL chassis, Wrightbus has driven the design of the overall package and has opted for a 7-litre Cummins engine for the diesel version. The hybrid version will have a Siemens series hybrid with a 2.4litre Ford Puma engine and lithium ion batteries.

“By being the first to make hybrid-electric technology a reality in city bus operations in the UK, we have been convinced of the need to offer a vehicle which gives operators the choice of either conventional diesel or hybrid electric drivelines, without changing the layout and specification of the vehicle,” says Wright Group managing director Mark Nodder.

Wrightbus says that it is aiming for a passenger capacity of 85-90 in the 10.3m two-door Transport for London specification and is incorporating more composite materials to reduce the weight of the overall structure. Ten seats will be in the low-floor area on the lower deck with a further 14 behind and 41 seats upstairs. The standard seats are Esteban and Ventura plug-and-slide doors with a positive seal are included along with a new sealed lighting system with an LED option.

In the diesel version there will be a choice of ZF or Voith automatic transmission driving through  a Spicer axle.

The chassis design includes a new flat radiator which sits 1.5m above the ground to improve engine cooling and reduce noise. Wrightbus says that the new vehicle will be be class-leading in terms of TfL’s external and internal noise specifications.

A new driver’s area has been developed which includes a Wrightbus-designed instrument panel with touch-screen technology.

The product will be fully supported by Wright’s Customcare division which is currently going through an expansion programme.

The first vehicles are due to be on the road in the middle of 2008 with the initial deliveries to meet orders of five each from Arriva London and First London.

Mark Nodder would not be drawn on the question of whether an integrated single-deck bus would follow, but this would seem to be logical, assuming the double-deck project succeeds as the company hopes.

Given its commitment to existing chassis partners including by far the largest, Volvo, Wrightbus will of course continue to offer a traditional body-on-chassis double-deck for diesel-powered double-decks.

www.wrightbus.com


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