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Yutong announces D7E release in Australia

VDI is preparing to welcome the latest electric version of a popular Yutong diesel bus model into Australia in what will be a milestone moment for the distributor this year

When VDI, the national distributor for Yutong in Australia, first prepared to introduce Yutong’s D7 model in Australia, it sensed it was onto a winner. In the years since, many Australian operators have enjoyed the benefits that the D7 provides.

“We’ve always had high expectations of the D7 vehicle,” VDI general manager Lou Riccardi told ABC.

“Key attributes of the D7 include functionality, reliability and safety, and the Australian market quickly realised it has these in abundance. When combined with VDI’s plentiful parts supply and national aftersales support, it has become extremely popular throughout the country.”

Yutong first brought its D7 to Australia in 2014 under a different name. Plenty has happened in the bus and coach industry in the nine years since. Emissions standards have changed, as have vehicle design, while improved safety has been seen while companies have come and gone.

Bus models haven’t been immune to this change either. In 2020, Yutong’s small bus was officially introduced into Australia as the D7, around the same time Riccardi commenced with VDI.

The Yutong distributor carefully planned the D7’s launch in Australia, firstly setting out to validate its credibility within the Australian market.

“Our research revealed a niche type option for local bus operators seeking the ideal blend between the minibus’ size and comforts of an urban bus variant,” Riccardi says.

Yutong’s D7 has always had its own niche in the Australian market. Its 27 or 28-seat configuration options make it large enough to avoid being classed as a minibus yet small enough to be a niftier option than a standard low-floor urban bus. In the years since it arrived in Australia, VDI has capitalised on this industry gap, and the model’s popularity has continued to grow.

Apart from VDI’s strong local support, the D7 has remained the subject of constant enhancements. Last year, VDI unveiled a brand-new design released globally in time for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, where nearly 1,000 D7s transported fans to and from games.

The evolution of the D7 has now extended to electrification, with VDI set to introduce the D7E variant into Australia. It mirrors its Euro 6 D7 counterpart in most aspects, except for one fundamental change – it’s yet another Yutong battery electric vehicle available in Australia.

The electrification of the D7 is a milestone moment for both VDI and Yutong. For the first time, VDI’s complete Yutong fleet in Australia is now available in both Euro 6 and electric options. Riccardi says this latest advancement in the brand’s technology is “the icing on the cake, for now”.

“We’re extremely proud that we can say that all of our range is available in electric options, with best in class localised support, excellent warranty and parts availability,” he says.

The D7E is set to join Yutong’s existing E12 and C12E models that have been recently electrified to expand VDI’s suite of vehicles. The delegation of VDI folk and local operators that made the trip to Yutong’s headquarters in Zhengzhou, China, earlier this year saw the first D7E model built for Australian operations in the flesh.

Riccardi says the model is now finalising ADR approvals, with VDI expecting the first two D7Es to be shipped to Australia by early October.

As a global leader for producing zero-emissions buses and coaches, VDI national manager of product, ZEBs and new technologies Luke Edwards says Yutong didn’t face any challenges when electrifying the popular D7.

“Because of the sheer number of different electric models that Yutong builds, this size vehicle isn’t particularly challenging,” Edwards told ABC.

“We already have a smaller version electrified, with the D7E using parts already proven across Yutong buses and reliably tested throughout the global market.”

Alongside its unique specifications, Edwards says the D7 was a hit in Australia due to its high quality features included as standard.

In the space of just one year, these same traits of the D7 have been copied across to the D7E, in line with what VDI and Yutong customers were seeking. Edwards says the trademark quiet nature of electric vehicles is a prominent feature of the latest Yutong electric bus to hit Australian shores.

“The D7E is dead silent,” Edwards says. “There’s no engine noise, no transmission or gear change sounds. It’s a much quieter vehicle that’s better for drivers, passengers and the environment.”

The model includes standard features in a TS160 Door Safety System, Mobileye advanced driver warning systems, 360-degree driver warning camera systems, AEBS, ASR and ECS, and a two-year/ 500,000km warranty with extended warranty options available.

Introducing the D7E into Australian operations will start as a steady process. Once the first two models are shipped to Australia and given full ADR approval, VDI will focus on setting up trials with interested operators.

The distributor has experience in this – in recent months, it has sent E12 and C12E models to alpine regions to undergo testing, then verify and highlight the quality of Yutong’s electric variants.

Prior to local trialling, Edwards says the VDI team will firstly put the new model through its paces internally so that VDI’s service, technical and sales teams can all experience the D7E and understand it before release onto public roads.

“We want to make sure we can drive and test it ourselves first so that everyone at VDI can get trained on working and retailing the D7E,” Edwards says.

“Once we all understand the vehicle, we’ll put it into the market for any trials or operator orders.”

With the global experience of Yutong supporting it, VDI Australia knows how to successfully launch an electric bus. Riccardi says the distributor’s plan for releasing the D7E will also include engaging with operators to get their feedback on the model so that further enhancements can be identified.

Like the D7, Riccardi is confident that the D7E will attract plenty of interest from the local market and become another hit model for VDI and Yutong.

“A number of operator’s already familiar with VDI’s commitment to product quality and reliability have submitted preliminary orders for the D7E,” Riccardi says.

“VDI is very proud to be amongst the first OEM suppliers to offer zero-emission alternatives across its Australian range, which include diesel variants that also meet the highest emissions standards. It reflects our organisations heritage and our commitment to environmental sustainability.”

For more information on the D7E’s launch, VDI says interested customers can visit www.vdiaustralia.com.au to find out more.

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