SUP­PLY LINES

Pas­sen­ger con­veyance oper­a­tors in this coun­try are spoilt for choice, judg­ing by the wide va­ri­ety of new prod­ucts on dis­play at the Aus­tralian Bus + Coach Show in Syd­ney,

ABC (Australia) - - CONTENTS - writes Steve Skin­ner

The 2016 Bus + Coach Show in Syd­ney proved to be the ideal stage for a wide-range of brand new buses and bus prod­ucts. Steve Skin­ner has the scoop on a range of in­no­va­tive new buses and coaches The Tokyo Gov­ern­ment has made plans to utilise two Toy­ota fuel cell buses as per­ma­nent route buses from early next year A driver­less pod with no steer­ing wheel that is be­ing man­u­fac­tured in Eng­land has ar­rived for a year-long demon­stra­tion stint in Aus­tralia Daim­ler claims its newly de­vel­oped elec­tro-hy­draulic power steer­ing (EHPS) sys­tem can re­duce the fuel con­sump­tion of buses

The bus in­dus­try is boom­ing if the re­cent Aus­tralian Bus + Coach Show is any­thing to go by. There were more new bus and coach prod­ucts on dis­play than at any other show or con­fer­ence we’ve been to in re­cent years, and bus sup­pli­ers seemed happy with the level of gen­uine in­ter­est – as op­posed to tyre kick­ers. Deals were ac­tu­ally done at the show too.

Oper­a­tors and sup­pli­ers from around the coun­try would have been buoyed by the speech from Trans­port for NSW chief Tim Rear­don, who was up­beat about the in­creas­ing de­mand for ser­vices from a rapidly grow­ing pop­u­la­tion in his state. The same could be said for Vic­to­ria, and maybe a cou­ple of other ju­ris­dic­tions as well.

On dis­play were ev­ery­thing from dou­bledeck­ers and long lux­ury 3-axle coaches to van-based com­mu­nity trans­port shut­tles and off-road run­abouts – and, of course, they were just the prod­ucts on wheels. There were stalls galore host­ing goods and ser­vices.

We can’t cover ev­ery­thing, but here’s an over­view of the new of­fer­ings that caught our eye.

AIM­ING HIGH

We have al­ready test driven and re­viewed the MAN/Gemi­lang dou­ble-decker and Bustech CDi dou­ble-decker, but also at the show was the new high-rise BCI.

Since then we’ve driven the BCI in Mel­bourne, so look out for the re­view in an up­com­ing is­sue of ABC. Sufce to say it’s an im­pres­sive ve­hi­cle with units al­ready run­ning around in the spir­i­tual home of dou­ble-deck­ers – London.

Like the Bustech, the BCI is powered by

the 9-litre Cum­mins ISLe5 en­gine, and it has a 6-speed au­to­matic ZF gear­box. It’s an in­te­grated mono­coque bus built at the Aus­tralian-owned BCI’s fac­tory in China.

LONG LEGS

One of the most eye-catch­ing units on dis­play was Cooma Coaches’ new MAN/ Coach De­sign com­bi­na­tion. The big bop­per marks the re­turn of 3-axle MAN coaches to Aus­tralia af­ter an ab­sence of more than 15 years, and it’s got in­de­pen­dent front sus­pen­sion to boot.

Cooma is in the NSW high coun­try, and this coach has plenty of grunt for the big hills with MAN’s 6-cylin­der, 12.4-litre putting out a whop­ping 480hp (353kW) and 2300Nm of torque from as low as 950rpm.

But that’s not why we would have awarded this ve­hi­cle ‘Bus of the Show’ if there was such a prize. Not only does it have all-round disc brakes and an elec­tronic sta­bil­ity pro­gram; the stand­out fea­ture in our book is that, as far as we know, this is the rst Aus­tralian-built coach with both lane de­par­ture warn­ing and AEB, or ‘au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing’.

In cer­tain sit­u­a­tions, the AEB – or what MAN calls ‘emer­gency brake as­sist’ – will use a com­bi­na­tion of a radar sys­tem and com­put­er­i­sa­tion to au­to­mat­i­cally brake the bus if it’s about to hit some­thing and the driver isn’t do­ing any­thing about it. That’s af­ter a cou­ple of warn­ings to the driver. Aca­demic ex­perts say this is life-sav­ing tech­nol­ogy, and it’s be­com­ing in­creas­ingly com­mon in new cars and trucks.

The big MAN also has adap­tive cruise con­trol that au­to­mat­i­cally keeps a  xed dis­tance from the ve­hi­cle in front, which the driver can ad­just.

This unit has good car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity, but that was over­shad­owed by an­other new 3-axle coach at the show – a 14.5m Den­ning Phoenix school char­ter with 80 Sty­leride Orion xed seats in a three-by-two congu­ra­tion.

The high-ca­pac­ity Kan­ga­roo Bus Lines coach from Queens­land has a steer­able tag axle, elec­tronic brake sys­tem (EBS), and it’s powered by a 9-litre Cum­mins through a 6-speed Al­li­son trans­mis­sion.

EURO 6 PI­O­NEERS

The cur­rent Euro 5 emis­sions stan­dard for new buses and coaches in Aus­tralia is al­ready very good, and the fu­ture Euro 6 re­quire­ment will take en­gine emis­sions to innites­i­mal lev­els.

Per­son­ally I think what’s far more im­por­tant than go­ing from Euro 5 to 6 is to some­how get all the old smoke-blow­ing clunkers off the road, un­less they’re pad­dock bash­ers in the bush with plenty of fresh air around.

Old bangers in our cities and towns, which are more than 20 years old, have no gear what­so­ever for con­trol­ling diesel par­tic­u­lates and ox­ides of ni­tro­gen.

An ironic re­minder of how many smoke blow­ers are still on Aus­tralian roads came dur­ing a stu­dent char­ter in the very same Olympic Park precinct as the bus show.

It was a Mercedes-Benz 0305 from the late 1970s – the same type as a Benz on dis­play in the vin­tage bus sec­tion of the show! No seat­belts ei­ther, of course.

Any­way, hav­ing said all that, Euro 6 is in­evitable and there were sev­eral new Euro 6 prod­ucts on dis­play in Syd­ney.

One of them was a 2-axle Sca­nia school-char­ter with a Coach De­sign body and 57 seats. Its 360hp (265kW) en­gine only uses se­lec­tive cat­alytic re­duc­tion (SCR) to achieve Euro 6, rather than ex­haust gas re­cir­cu­la­tion (EGR) as well.

Mean­while, Mercedes-Benz has two new route bus bod­ies on its 8-litre, Euro 6 OC500LE chas­sis which uses both SCR and EGR emis­sions con­trol, and pro­duces 300hp (220kW). There is the choice of ZF or Voith trans­mis­sions. The new bod­ies are the low-oor Cus­tom CB80 with a stain­less steel frame and the Vol­gren Op­ti­mus built with alu­minium.

We saw a sim­i­lar Euro 6 Benz chas­sis with an alu­minium BCI body at Busvic in 2015, and there was an­other of these Benz/BCI units on show in Syd­ney.

We have re­cently test driven that bus in

The fu­ture Euro 6 re­quire­ment will take en­gine emis­sions to in­fin­i­tes­i­mal lev­els

Mel­bourne, so look out for our favourable re­view in an up­com­ing is­sue. The en­gine is the same as in the 2.55m-wide Ci­taro cur­rently on trial in Brisbane, which we have also pos­i­tively re­viewed.

OFF-ROADERS

There seemed to be more new four-wheel drive buses than we have seen at shows be­fore, which is hope­fully a sign that while the min­ing boom may be over, a new tourism boom is un­der­way.

The newly re­leased Iveco Daily 4x4 has an in­cred­i­ble 24 gear ra­tios avail­able to the driver cour­tesy of its 6-speed syn­chro man­ual box feed­ing into a dou­ble low-range trans­fer case. The 3-litre Euro 5 turbo-diesel pushes out 170hp (125kw) and 430Nm.

Tech­ni­cal ed­i­tor of ABC’s sis­ter truck pub­li­ca­tions Steve Brooks con­cluded the fol­low­ing from his re­cent drive of a new Daily 4x4 cab chas­sis: “The com­bi­na­tion of ex­cel­lent ap­proach and de­par­ture an­gles, ex­ten­sive sus­pen­sion travel, in­cred­i­bly ver­sa­tile gear­ing, and three diff locks all com­bine to de­liver ex­cep­tional off-road ca­pa­bil­i­ties.”

Steve adds that en­gage­ment of the diff locks au­to­mat­i­cally can­cels out the elec­tronic sta­bil­ity pro­gram and ABS func­tions.

Mean­while, I-Bus had a new 20-seat coach model on dis­play based on the Isuzu 300 4x4 truck chas­sis, which of course means the en­gine is up the front. It’s a 5.2-litre push­ing out 153hp (114kW) with a 6-speed man­ual box or the choice of auto.

I-Bus says there is a move away from pods to­wards sin­gle in­te­grated cab­ins, which not only means that the driver or a tour guide can sit in the front and still speak with pas­sen­gers, but there is ap­par­ently a lower cen­tre of grav­ity and there­fore greater rollover safety.

Round­ing out the mud run­ners in Syd­ney was the Chi­nese-built Ad­ven­turer AX7-AWD be­ing dis­trib­uted by Aus­tralia’s largest automotive re­tailer, Automotive Hold­ings Group (AHG).

The Ad­ven­turer sports a 3.8-litre Cum­mins pro­duc­ing 170hp (125kW) and an im­pres­sive 600Nm of torque, with a 6-speed fully au­to­matic Al­li­son trans­mis­sion. In­side are 28 cloth seats.

By the way, AHG is the new dis­trib­u­tor of Higer buses in Aus­tralia, and was also show­ing off its new lux­ury H8200 ‘ plat­inum edi­tion’ with eye­catch­ing black liv­ery. It’s powered by a 4.5-litre Cum­mins.

HAPPY BIRTH­DAY

Get­ting back on the bi­tu­men, King Long is cel­e­brat­ing 10 years in Aus­tralia with a new ur­ban route bus prod­uct. For the rst time in a city bus for Aus­tralia, the Chi­nese bus builder is of­fer­ing a 9-litre Cum­mins ISL en­gine rated at 320hp (235kW), matched with a 6-speed ZF Eco­l­ife auto box.

What stands out to us about this bus is that it boasts some im­pres­sive new safety tech­nol­ogy.

This in­cludes lane de­par­ture warn­ing, for­ward col­li­sion warn­ing, and tyre pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing. Also on board are King Long telem­at­ics.

It seems to us the for­ward col­li­sion warn­ing will be es­pe­cially handy for city driv­ers. It will vi­brate the steer­ing wheel and ac­ti­vate an au­dio alarm, and is fac­tory tted in this in­te­grated mono­coque bus.

Also for the rst time in Aus­tralia, King Long dis­played a coach with a Volvo chas­sis – in this case a B11R.

SCHOOL DU­TIES

Mean­while, Cus­tom was show­ing off its SB50 midi school/char­ter bus with up to 49 adult seats in the 11.5m body, and what it says is a 25-year de­sign life with the stain­less steel frame.

Cus­tom is pleased to have se­cured Cat­e­gory 3 ‘fully funded’ sta­tus from the NSW au­thor­i­ties for this unit, which is ap­par­ently a very good thing, but apolo­gies that this writer couldn’t get his age­ing head around the in­tri­ca­cies of the NSW sys­tem to ex­plain it fur­ther.

“Like its CB80 brother, the SB50 won’t re­quire an ex­pen­sive midlife re­build,” Cus­tom says. “The bre­glass waist panel

will never cor­rode, no mat­ter where you op­er­ate in Aus­tralia.”

The SB50 is avail­able on all chas­sis, and this one is on a Mercedes.

SMALL SHUT­TLES

As we all know, dis­abled ac­cess has be­come a huge is­sue, and there were sev­eral small new low-oor, wheelchair­friendly mod­els on dis­play in Syd­ney.

We have pre­vi­ously re­ported on the launch of the Hino Pon­cho, modied for the Aus­tralian mar­ket.

This cute lit­tle bus is sur­pris­ingly spa­cious in­side, and has a 180hp (130kw) en­gine up the back with an idlestop func­tion to save fuel.

Patico Automotive was show­ing off the Ir­ish-built EVM com­mu­nity and city low-oor minibus, which is also de­cep­tively roomy con­sid­er­ing it’s based on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter cab chas­sis.

Mean­while, com­bin­ing an Ital­ian drive train with Bri­tish body build­ing was a ‘ Mel­lor Orion’, a brand we hadn’t heard of be­fore. This Fiat-powered minibus has both side and rear en­trances and holds up to 22 seats or ve wheel­chairs.

There were sev­eral small new low-floor, wheel­chair-friendly mod­els on dis­play

Main pic: Star of the show: the MAN/Coach De­sign with heaps of power and all sorts of elec­tronic safety good­ies; From top: BCI’s new dou­bledecker; Sca­nia/Coach De­sign Euro 6 school/char­ter; MAN 26.480 RR4; Ex­press elec­tronic safety door

Op­po­site page from top left: Mel­lor Orion; Cus­tom CB80 with the Benz en­gine; Mercedes-Benz Euro 6 lowfloor chas­sis

Top clock­wise: Kan­ga­roo Bus Lines’ Den­ning; The Euro 6 Sca­nia en­gine; Iveco Daily; In­side the 80-seat Den­ning Phoenix

Above L to R: King Long/Volvo coach; Higer’s H8200 Plat­inum Be­low: In­side the I-Bus; AHG’s Ad­ven­turer; The 4WD I-Bus

Above: The Cus­tom Bus SB50 midi school/char­ter bus; Left and bot­tom: In­side and out­side the Ir­ish EVM

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