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BLK Auto set to introduce dual tyre lazy project

In a bid to provide an upgraded coach model that fits operator requirements, BLK Auto is in the final stages of designing and creating a new President 3 model that features popular technology from yesteryear

When BLK Auto was looking to introduce a new and updated version of one of its more popular coach models, it turned to trusted operators for feedback.

Harking back to the days of the old Denning dual tyre lazy coaches, the feedback called for the lazy axles to return in the form of an updated BLK Auto President 3 dual tyre lazy coach.

“The idea was bandied around at BLK Auto for many months before it picked up momentum,” BLK Auto executive and national sales & contracts manager David Jiear told ABC.

“When some operators mentioned looking into a dual tyre lazy option, we started asking them questions about what they were looking for and what they wanted the updated model to achieve. It developed from there with us taking into account their suggestions.”

The idea to supply a dual tyre lazy option was a blast from the past. It used to be a feature of an older Denning range, with certain buses coming with a single tyre lazy axle while others featured the dual tyre version.

Despite its popular following, the model is no longer built and sold in Australia, creating a gap in the market.

Operators then told BLK Auto to consider revamping this classic technology to facilitate the increase of the mass limits of the updated President 3. When BLK Auto general manager Sean Smith arrived at the company and heard of its intentions with the dual tyre lazy coach, he put his engineering expertise into the project.

“We were adamant that we had to fill this hole in the market,” Smith told ABC.

“We had those discussions inside our four walls and decided to design and build the axle system here in Australia.”

This local flavour soon became a defining moment of the President 3’s redesign. Instead of relying on BLK Auto’s offshore factory to complete the entire design and build of the axle, BLK Auto took matters into its own hands, redesigning the entire system in Australia and then building it locally.

It’s one of two simultaneous products currently ongoing. While the Australian arm of BLK Auto continues to design and build the entire dual tyre lazy axle system, including suspension, axle and other parts, the offshore factory is modifying the President’s chassis. Once BLK Auto completes axle construction in Australia, it will ship its updated technology to the factory to be built into the completed vehicle.

“Our plan is that a finished vehicle will be ready in our offshore factory so that our new axle system can be bolted into it,” Smith says.

“The new axle design will be shipped to the factory and offered under a finished three-axle body and chassis combination.

“This process guarantees our peace of mind as we can run the process ourselves and complete all necessary checks and tests in Australia.”

Once the two projects are combined into one new President 3 14.5m model, it’ll go through the usual standards checks before entering a testing phase. Smith expects the long list of tests, including crack tests and fatigue regimes, to confirm that the operators’ suggestion for a dual tyre lazy option will be a welcome addition for the local market.

From Jiear’s standpoint, operators have been vocal to him and BLK Auto for some time about replicating the old Denning technology. He’s confident that the new design will satisfy all key operators looking to pre-order the model.

“We have met with operators and gone over technical drawings with them and have received some very positive feedback,” Jiear says.

“The big theme with the bus industry currently is about putting bums on seats and optimising range and carrying capacity – the dual tyre lazy option ticks all of the boxes.

“We wanted to come up with a BLK Auto version of the old Denning models but include our improvements as standard on this vehicle.”

Once it’s finalised, the dual tyre lazy coach will come in both a single and double-deck option. Standard specifications include a Cummins X12 480hp engine and a capacity to carry up to a 1400L fuel tank that meets the range improvements that BLK was after and some operators were seeking. Seating capacity comes down to configuration but varies between 62 and 71 seats.

Smith says all of these quality components will help ensure the new President 3 model meets operator requirements and makes the project worthwhile.

“Operators asked for a variety of reasonable additions, including increased range and GVM and additional capacity for fuel carry,” Smith says.

“We’ll phase in these requests that we think we can handle, including locally sourced airbags and shock absorbers, while we’ll look into using imperial measurements instead of metric for this model.”

The project is already escalating and Smith expects the first versions of the reinvigorated President 3 coach to arrive in Australia in the first quarter of next year. Now that the design of the new axles has been confirmed, the next step is producing design drawings so that the axles can be built.

While it does this, BLK Auto has also streamlined its logo, removing the ‘Zero Emissions is our Mission’ part of the logo to avoid confusing customers. Now, it includes ‘BLK Auto – Bus and Coach Sales’ to show that the brand is still invested in the latest diesel technology while also bringing to market new zero-emissions models.

Much of this movement is precipitated by feedback. Smith says that he wants to hear from more operators about BLK Auto, specifically the new dual tyre lazy coach model in the works.

“It’s important that we get more input from interested parties, so now is the time for them to tell us what they want – I encourage people to reach out,” Smith says.

“We have received good feedback from key operators, but we want to try and target fringe customers who may also need something like this new model.

“We expect that our team will be at the factory testing the vehicle soon before we book space to bring it out, so now is the time for us and the industry to get moving on this exciting project.”

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