Posted on Friday 17 January 2014 by Ulster Business

Wrightbus Streetlite Micro Hybrid

Wrightbus has won an order for 301 StreetLite single deck buses

Northern Ireland bus manufacturer Wrightbus has received confirmation of a major order worth in the region of £45m from the UK bus division of FirstGroup.

The order for 301 buses is part of a 425 bus investment worth a total of £70m by FirstGroup, who said they selected Wrightbus following extensive testing and fuel consumption trials during 2013.

FirstGroup has ordered 301 Wrightbus StreetLite buses – 274 of which are specified as having innovative "Micro Hybrid" technology, developed exclusively by the Ballymena based-company.

The chassis for the new buses will be built at Wrights Group subsidiary EN-Drive in Antrim. The bodywork will be assembled in Ballymena. Vehicle deliveries will commence during the next few months, with all buses expected to be in full operational service by early 2015.

"This is further great news for Wrightbus and the Northern Ireland economy" said Group Managing Director Mark Nodder. "Hot on the heels of last year's order to build 600 innovative double deck buses for Transport for London, this order for FirstGroup will help secure existing jobs right across our business. It is a huge endorsement for our innovative StreetLite single deck bus concept and the exciting Micro Hybrid technology that we have developed in conjunction with First."

Micro Hybrid technology captures the energy generated from a bus's braking system, and redistributes this energy to power pneumatics, hydraulic and electrical systems which would otherwise require power from the engine. The result is a reduction in fuel consumption of up to 10%, leading to substantial savings over a bus's typical 15-year operational service life.

Giles Fearnley, Managing Director of First UK Bus, added: "Our groundbreaking partnership with Wrightbus will deliver unsurpassed levels of fuel efficiency. In 2013 we laid down the gauntlet to bus manufacturers to work with us to minimise fuel consumption. Wrightbus embraced that challenge and together we've developed its StreetLite Micro Hybrid product. I am immensely proud of our collective achievements and we're very much looking forward to being the first operator to take delivery of these revolutionary new vehicles."

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster described the order from FirstGroup as a "vote of confidence in Wrightbus" which she said had "once again proven it is a world leader when it comes to innovation".

"Today's announcement underlines the value of the continuing partnership between FirstGroup and Wrightbus. Not only has it secured jobs, it has provided a significant shop window for the Ballymena firm's innovative StreetLite concept and the ground-breaking Micro Hybrid technology behind it," she said.



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