I enjoyed reading your series of posts. Things are looking brighter but it would help if PG displayed greater awareness to PR and his shareholders.
There was a time when Leyland had household status in SA, especially with its double-deckers. They careened around the sharp bends of Bantry Bay on two wheels and leaned over alarmingly in the south-easter when reaching 4th Beach, Clifton. Cowboys at the wheel, reliability par excellence. Really good to know the new breed is back on the road. Another 600 Solo SRs was mooted; it's encouraging to see Route One confirming probability. A lot hinges on how hard De Lille and Brett Herron can push forward. Local taxi associations, however, remain a thorn in the side. Funding is still something of a headache.
Noting that Busmark, Randfonten, can gear up for production there is also a morale booster. It means they are waiting on those tender results from Rustenburg and Tshwane (Pretoria). Gauteng is an unknown at this point. The Solo SR would be ideal for the plush northern suburbs. Taxi associations, again, are capable of putting up road blocks, both literally and figuratively. Torching a bus - last one in Khayelitsha - is no big deal to a toy-toying mob.
Locally, it was a pleasure to see five Optare products passing simultaneously through Tunbridge Wells. If only the scene can be replicated across the counties . . .. C'mon Optare - advertising/PR paves the way.
The three main UK manufacturers (Wow! That means US; positive PR) continue to develop aggressive export strategies to reduce their dependence on domestic sales and ensure their place in global markets.
Optare’s interim CEO PG Nilsson is looking for synergies with Ashok Leyland’s other businesses. The joint venture (JV) with Busmark 2000 in South Africa continues apace with around 150 Solo SRs completed. The initial order for 190 buses has been followed by another for 30. The Cape Town BRT scheme using the vehicles will require 700 of this size by the time it’s completed. Busmark 2000, which specialises in CKD (completely knocked down) build, could also assemble at its other factory in Johannesburg. Excellent IF we could get all or most of the remaining requirement here.
Optare has built left-hand drive (LHD) and right-hand drive (RHD) Solo SR demonstrators with engines supplied by Ashok Leyland and Allison gearboxes manufactured in India. The RHD vehicle was first exhibited at the biennial Delhi Auto Expo a year ago while the LHD bus is demonstrating in Dubai. Given Ashok Leyland is Indian company, might give Optare an advantage selling into Indian market.
Helping to develop its European business, one of seven Solo SRs delivered to Swedish dealer, BK Invest of Henan, is a 9.2m hybrid. The seven buses are the second batch to be supplied and include a 9.8m diesel demonstrator and three diesel 9.8m rental vehicles. Two 9.2m diesel buses have been sold to major regional operator, Nobina. Four 8.2m Solo SRs were supplied to BK Invest in 2011 and one of these buses along with the hybrid was exhibited at Persontrafik 2012 in Gothenburg last November. PG's home territory. Still surprised they are not pushing the all-electric option here,
The midibus sector (1,148 units) was dominated by ADL (602 units – 52.4%) followed by Optare (366 units – 31.9%), VDL (95 units –8.3%) and Wrightbus (84 units – 7.3%). For Optare the big seller remains the Solo, now the Solo SR, at 228 units. Just 22 Tempos were registered. The sector was up 150 registrations from 2011. Second only to Alex D in this sector.
"Optare, which currently (excellent pun!) has the electric market to itself, delivered eight electric Solos for Nottingham City Council, three Versas for Travel de Courcey, Coventry, and two Solo SRs to Dorset County Council. Two Solo SR hybrids have just gone to Reays of Wigton." Not big volume, but whilst we have this market to ourselves we will have to exploit this advantage. Route One thinks all sorts of hybrids still have a key role to play in the next decade.
Mr Simpson of Alex Dennis says, he is dismayed that electric-hybrids attract only a 50% subsidy towards the additional cost, while electric vehicles, with their limited range,receive 80%. This is another advantage for Optare to exploit.
Others have referred to this. It is a useful analysis of SMMT figures and gives some insight into the UK market going forward. Usefully, it has a section on exports as well. It is instructive to read the comments of our competitors. The quote from Optare management is attributed to dep CEO Glenn Saint (Mr Nilsson in metioned by Route One in section on exports and is said to be looking for 'synergies' with other Ashok companies. He is referred to as interim CEO. Sounds like he could be busy organising export opportunities and cutting costs.). Below is the comment from dep CEO.
Optare Deputy CEO, Glenn Saint says: “We are very pleased with our performance in 2012, our increase in registrations showing at 36% being one of the strongest improvements in the industry.” He says "there is evidence that GBF (Green Bus Fund) has played a part in influencing the timing of vehicle replacement, as some operators want to be seen to be reducing their carbon footprint. The first Optare Metrocity, also available in left-hand drive, is expected to start demonstrating in London from early February. Asked about Optare’s doubledecker plans, he said: “Watch this space. “Optare is in a strong competitive position after becoming part of Ashok Leyland and opening our new factory. As such we expect to enjoy further improvement in our UK market share this year. The business is also now firmly established in overseas markets and we have plans to develop this further through Ashok Leyland and other Optare partners.”
Datafeed and UK data supplied by NETbuilder and Interactive Data.
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