EXCLUSIVE: Electric future

Environmental concerns are driving bus and coach deliveries in the first quarter of 2011

By David Goeldner | March 10, 2011

Bus deliveries appear to be holding ground heading towards the end of the year’s first quarter.

With just three fewer units for February (108) compared to the year’s starting position (111), there should be no cause for concern.

In fact, the figures almost even out when considering that two of these units were electric buses delivered by BCI to the environmentally-aware Crown Coaches in Melbourne.

It’s not the first time electric buses have been registered and set to work on Australian roads. Although something of a rarity, the signs from Asia in particular are that electric buses could be the way forward — or at least the electric-diesel hybrid combinations being trialled this year. ABC plans to take a closer look at electric-powered buses later in 2011.

Also starting to appear on the streets, mainly around Melbourne, are the latest Euro 6 Volvo B7Rs, with eight Irizar-bodied low-emission vehicles landing at Dineen Group’s operations in February.

With environmental concerns back on the national agenda, the shape of the low or ‘no’ emission future appears to be forming on the Australian bus and coach landscape, pushed along — at the moment — by BCI and Volvo.

Once again, it’s Volvo holding sway over the marketplace as the clear leader, steaming ahead of the pack with 59 deliveries in February.

A fair distance back in second spot on our ‘league table’ is Mercedes-Benz with 12 deliveries for the month, which might say something about the time of year, as the German maker also held second behind Volvo in February 2010, a spot they held on to in March, then lost to MAN in April.

Iveco currently sits just behind Benz with nine units for February, five of which were further acquisitions by Red Bus Services at Bateau Bay, progressively filling its bulk order as part of a NSW Government growth plan for the Central Coast.

There has been no word yet on the South Australian school contracts situation, expected to stimulate growth in that state and sector of the market – there were no new deliveries to SA in February – but watch this space as the action unfolds over coming months.

Also by the end of April, and with a likely change of government in NSW, the supply side of the industry in Australia’s largest state by sales volume should become clearer. More meetings are being scheduled by BIC’s supplier’s committee, attempting to sort through the detail of the NSW Government’s proposed suppliers’ panel process.

It’s looking like an exciting time ahead.

To access February 2011 bus deliveries click here.

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