New era for Spheros

Under the ownership of a new parent company and, after having landed a number of key contracts earlier this year, Spheros Australia is starting to make major progress in the Australian market.

New era for Spheros
Spheros Australia managing director Paul Williams is pleased with the progress that the organisation has made this year


Spheros managing director Paul Williams says it's an exciting time for the company which has had a number of wins over the last 12 months, both internationally and domestically.

Speaking from Shperos' Australian headquarters in Melbourne's eastern suburbs, Williams says the organisation is now doing air-conditioning units for a lot of articulated buses for a Japanese operator through Volgren.

Spheros is owned by the Valeo Group, with that deal being done in December last year.

"They employ more than 80,000 people worldwide and some of their product will integrate well into our industry, such as the Valeo 43 and 65 compressor ranges," Williams explains. "It's great news for a number of reasons, but mainly it means we now have access to their range of components. "A Bock FK40 unloading compressor is what we put into our new air-con units."

The organisation is also starting to do a lot of work with electric and hybrid bus manufacturers.

"We are doing a lot of electrical air-conditioning now," Williams says. "We've got Volvo hybrids running in Adelaide, Perth, Sydney and Brisbane, and one in New Zealand."

"The air-conditioning unit used on hybrid buses is called the Revo-E, and then there is the Revo Global, which is for electric only. We’ve been doing that unit for about three years now, but it's really starting to gain momentum now."

Electrical air-conditioning gives maximum cooling, even at idle – but not all operators are convinced at the benefits over traditional air-conditioning units just yet.

"They do run at quite a high voltage," Williams reveals. "A lot of people are still sceptical about using electric air-conditioning because they are not used to it. But my feeling is that they will become more popular as more operators try them out and see the benefits for themselves."


Making moves

The bread and butter in terms of the company’s main source of revenue has not changed dramatically since last year, and the Brisbane City Council is still its biggest contract.

"They have a huge fleet of buses, are in the process of upgrading the air-con units on their fleet, and we are very proud to be involved with them," Williams says. "With Spheros being an international company, we are able to support customers who choose to import vehicles from China and the rest of the world, as seen from the vehicles arriving into Australia and New Zealand with Spheros already fitted."

Spheros is finding that more work is coming out of NSW this year.

"We are gaining momentum in NSW at the moment, this is due to us being on the NSW panel with most of the builders," Williams says. "Not only with STA [State Transit Authority], but also individual operators, I don't think next year is going to be any easier for Australian air-conditioning suppliers. I still think there are too many different companies on the Australian market."

While gaining the trust and support of bus and coach operators is always the goal, so too is showing that you have the ability to support them.

"Next year the focus will be on improving our service and support network," Williams says.

Spheros has been encouraged by the support shown by people in the industry this year.

"We have had a good year, really, probably the best we've ever had," Williams says. "I think that comes down to support and having the right products. We offer fantastic support via our agent network and I think that really helps."

The organisation is now supplying air-conditioning units to Custom Bus for the STA in Sydney. 

"We are grateful for the support and trust STA has in our products. The first batch will be built through Custom Bus," Williams says. "That deal was done in April this year. We have just sent out the first batch and we will be sending out another several units to Custom Bus in Sydney soon."

Williams also sees opportunities on the horizon with the increasing popularity of double-decker buses: "We have a double-decker air-con unit that has been tested and is ready to go now."

In a changing market that has seen the introduction of many new companies in the past decade, some will thrive and grow and take their share of the bus air-conditioning market, while others leave. In any competitive market, the winner will always be the customer.

Companies like those at the Australian Bus + Coach Show are constantly looking at new technologies, developing systems that meet the demanding and changing needs of the market, maintaining and developing customer relationships, and never forgetting the big picture of bus passengers’ comfort.

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