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First to trial lightweight Temsa bus

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First's announcement of a six month trial for the Avenue, built by Temsa in Turkey, is a demonstration that the group is serious about addressing the weight of its vehicles. The group has set a challenge for a shortlisted group of manufacturers to come up with lighter buses, possibly using composite structures, to bring the unladen weight of a bus down and help improve fuel economy.

Temsa's Avenue, which has already been ordered by Arriva, comes in at less than 10 tonnes unladen weight and the trial bus for First will also be fitted with the group's favoured telematics system DriveGreen.

“We are very excited about trialling the bus,” says David Liston, engineering director, First UK Bus.  “The combination of weight advantage and First’s DriveGreen technology could make this bus the most fuel efficient on the road.

“The use of composites has been pioneered in the aviation and automotive industries, in particular Formula 1, and its use in the bus industry is something we are keen to explore. "

Liston says that he is also in discussion with other suppliers on the lightweight bus project, including Wrightbus and Volvo, and a Chinese manufacturer.

The Temsa Avenue goes into trial service in Bradford from May and First will be gauging feedback from its customers, drivers and engineers and monitoring performance, miles per gallon and maintenance.

“Reducing our carbon footprint is a key strategic aim for First UK Bus," adds Liston. "In our 2007 Climate Change Strategy we made a commitment to reduce our carbon emissions by 25 per cent by 2020.  If we were to roll out these types of buses, we would make a serious impact on our own carbon footprint, not to mention the obvious savings that we could make on our fuel costs.”

The 41-seat Avenue is 12m long and 2.55m wide and is powered by a Cummins Euro 5 engine.

• In a media briefing yesterday First chief executive Moir Lockhead also confirmed that the group intends to meet the DDA requirements for low-floor vehicles with a mix of new buses and refurbishment of the existing fleet.

Some commentators had suggested that the UK bus groups might seek to downsize fleets as a way of meeting the forthcoming deadlines for low-floor access for single- and double-deck buses. However,  Lockhead acknowledges that the group needs to be ordering around 700 vehicles a year to meet the accessibility rules, and he told busandcoach.com that he hopes to return to capital investment levels of around £100million a year on new buses within the next couple of years.

www.firstgroup.com

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