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Wrightbus to body MAN A22 for new Meridian

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WRIGHTBUS is to develop a new fully low-floor 12m single deck on the MAN A22 chassis with an initial batch of 20 vehicles scheduled for production in early 2007. An additional customer order for 20 vehicles is believed to be pending.

The move involves a three-way agreement between Wrightbus and Neoman both in the UK and in Munich, specifically for the A22 chassis, and may involve the future development of vehicles for continental Europe.

The new Wrightbus/MAN vehicles, which will be EGR-based Euro 4s, will be branded Meridian and will feature the Aluminique body structure and although no details of the configuration are yet available, seating capacity is likely to be comparable with the current Wrightbus 12m Floline. The body style will resemble current familiar Wrightbus vehicles.

The new model will not compete directly with other MAN products in the UK, while elsewhere in Europe it will allow Neoman to offer an aluminium-bodied vehicle that could compliment the steel structure of Neoplan’s integral buses. “Having looked at the MAN option for a number of years, we believe the time is right to develop a new product which will take us into new sectors,” says Mark Nodder, Wrightbus vice president of business development.

“We’ve never had any doubt about Neoman’s technical ability and there has recently been a lot of talent and energy injected into its UK operation.”

Nodder describes the MAN A22 chassis as “best in class” offering a very good low-floor platform with minimal intrusion into the bus interior. He points out that it will take Wrightbus into new product sectors including airport operations. “This is an important addition to our product range. As a leading European bus chassis manufacturer within the global Neoman Group, we are delighted to be working in partnership with MAN on this project and success would certainly augur well for future developments.”

Since his appointment, Neoman UK MD Vince Welsh has made no secret of the importance of adding Wrightbus to his portfolio of bodybuilders for the UK and is clearly delighted with the agreement. “The name of Wrightbus is synonymous with quality. With the full low-floor concept it will open markets for us that we have never been in before. I am looking forward to a long and successful partnership with one of the industry’s most innovative bodybuilders."

The fact that the vehicles will be EGR-based is also significant. Whilst it may not be the prime reason behind Wrightbus’ decision to finally work with MAN, it does reflect the fact that operators appear to be reluctant to make a decision on which way to jump with Euro 4 – EGR or SCR.

“It’s very important that we offer choice to our customers,” adds Nodder who stresses that he aims to continue long-standing partnerships with other chassis manufacturers.

www.neoman.co.uk

www.wright-bus.com

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