Bus Features

VDI completes visionary visit to Chinese Yutong factory

In early June, a group of VDI Australia leaders hosted a delegation of local operators on a trip to Zhengzhou to view exciting electric bus technology courtesy of Yutong

James Gauci’s first impressions while travelling through the Chinese city of Zhengzhou focused on its ultra-modern appearance. The new chief operating officer of VDI Australia noticed the city was extremely well presented, with contemporary technologies in abundance.

“The autonomous charging bus depots immediately caught our attention,” Gauci told ABC.

He, along with a delegation of VDI Australia staff and Australian operators, soon arrived at the global headquarters of Yutong. As the Australian distributors, VDI Australia and its guests made the trip to the home of Yutong in early June to attend the launch of its latest YEA technology.

Joined by senior representatives from Victorian operator Dyson Group and Western Australia’s Go West Integrated Transport Solutions, the Australian travellers were treated to a release of Yutong Electric Architecture (YEA) that was more befitting of a game show mixed with a TED talk.

The release, for new energy Yutong commercial vehicles, is based upon making Yutong buses more economical, durable and convenient. Following the showcase of this evolution of quality, the delegation were taken to Yutong’s headquarters and production facilities in Zhengzhou for a three-day visit.

“The city of Zhengzhou itself is technology rich and this clearly extended into its manufacturing precincts,” Gauci says.

The visit to Yutong’s 133-hectare Eastern International Logistics Park highlighted the mesmerising bus and coach technology that VDI is working hard to bring to Australia. With a forecast annual output of 30,000 electric vehicles, it’s the world’s largest manufacturing base of new energy buses and the most technologically leading of its kind in China. Yutong’s total forecast annual output across all of its plants exceeds 60,000 units.

The Australian group grabbed the opportunity to ride in autonomous buses around the precinct, signifying the active presence of Yutong’s cutting-edge technologies. These advanced technologies extend to the robotics functionality Yutong has in its global headquarters, with the delegation making a stop to observe the robotic welding facilities at the massive site. 

VDI Australia general manager Lou Riccardi recalls the ongoing investments Yutong has made in production line technology standing out, with it now becoming virtually fully computerised since his last plant visit.

“The electrophoresis of bus bodies was particularly impressive to watch,” Riccardi told ABC.

“It’s quite sophisticated, involving the body, frame and chassis receiving a series of full immersion cathodic electrophoresis treatments, enhancing the vehicle’s anti-corrosion and aesthetic attributes.”

The delegation also visited acoustic labs inside the Zhengzhou site. Gauci says the visually impressive, high-tech facilities test and record a series of acoustics-based criteria in accordance with Yutong’s quality assurance standards.

“These testing grounds were great to observe as a series of buses that had just been built were carefully examined,” Gauci says.


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“Yutong perform six discrete areas of testing upon every vehicle it manufactures, including on a high-speed test road, comprehensive test road, climbing road, high-ring test road, ESP test field and a wading pool.

“All new products undergo a gruelling one million kilometre testing regime on these areas.”

VDI Australia has now set about helping Australian operators and the broader industry understand how to gain the most from YEA technology.

For Dyson Group general manager of fleet services and infrastructure Sam Distefano, the Zhengzhou trip proved that Yutong and VDI Australia are first-class organisations that many can learn from.

“I was very surprised at the sheer magnitude of the factory and impressed by how much of the company’s annual revenue goes back into research and development,” Distefano says.

“Visiting their testing facilities and research and development centre gave me confidence that we are dealing with a world leader in the electric vehicle and bus building world.”

 

Go West general manager Brad Bunce was similarly fascinated by the visit, saying the innovation of Yutong was truly inspiring.

This feedback is helping fuel VDI Australia as it seeks to continue introducing this exciting Yutong bus technology to local operators while also improving existing facets of its operations.

“The nature of our relationship with Yutong enables us to meet with key senior people to progress our strategic imperatives, most of which translate to improved standards of customer experience and further learning among our people internally,” Gauci says.

“While major breakthroughs such as YEA excite us, we remain committed to our customers back home in areas that are really important to them, such as real-time parts availability, quality technical support, training and product reliability.”

VDI Australia’s latest agreement to supply 90 electric buses to Transport Canberra not only reinforces the growing presence of Yutong vehicles in Australia, but also VDI’s credentials in electrification locally. After seeing the pristine sites of Zhengzhou and its world leading manufacturing capabilities, VDI is committed to bringing this futuristic technology to the local industry so that ultimately Australian operators and passengers can also benefit from it.

“We look forward to helping our customers utilise YEA to operate their fleets more economically and reliably,” Gauci says.

“We’re also committed to retaining the value and benefits that YEA delivers across our driveable knockdown (DKD) program as it enables Australian workers to remain in direct contact with these world leading technologies.”

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