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Designline – Hybrid Shuttles to Britain

Designline – Hybrid Shuttles to Britain

16 April 2005 -- British commuters around Newcastle-upon-Tyne’s Civic Cultural Centre and prestigious Quayside development will soon be travelling in the most advanced commercial buses in the world designed and built in New Zealand.

It’s been five years in the making, but Ashburton-based bus-building company, Designline, has won the tender to supply British company, Stagecoach North East with nine hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) to travel the Tyneside route.

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) Sector Manager - Specialised Manufacturing Adrian Whiteman, says the contract will enhance New Zealand’s reputation as an innovative provider of clean, green solutions to worldwide environmental problems.

“The Designline Shuttles, already in use in New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong and now in Britain, are making a name for themselves around the world, as reliable vehicles whose unique shape and environmentally-friendly ultra-low emissions are proving popular with passengers.”

Designline Managing Director, John Turton, says the Newcastle contract was won on the Shuttle’s proven track record, “Besides having a modern, distinctive shape, they have the most time on the road and are a demonstrated quantity.”

Designline started work on the HEV 10 years ago after realising the company needed to concentrate on producing specialised vehicles for niche markets and built to customers’ specifications and requirements. In 2001, they received a Business Growth Funding grant from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise predecessor Industry New Zealand to develop its strategy and business direction.

NZTE’s Adrian Whiteman, says the grant enabled Designline to develop their business capability to become internationally competitive.

“More recently, NZTE has assisted the company in its recruitment of skilled workers to meet production needs. This new contract proves that New Zealand firms have the capacity to compete internationally showcasing Kiwi innovation and ingenuity globally.”

Whiteman says NZTE are thrilled at the success of the Ashburton Company as it will help drive economic development in the region.

Designline welcomed the NZTE assistance, saying “it was very helpful in getting the project started and gave us the impetus to go on to win this considerable contract.”

Editor’s Notes The Christchurch Shuttle was one of the first HEV’s to operate commercially worldwide. It was developed in partnership with Christchurch City Council and passenger operator, Redbus and launched as a free, inner-city service in December 1998 to reduce city pollution, particularly from CO2 emissions and vehicle noise. The buses’ turbines generate electricity to charge batteries, which run electric motors. The batteries are charged overnight and the turbine system recharges them when operating. Energy from braking, known as regenerative braking is also used to charge the batteries. The HEV is a super low floor bus, which is capable of raising and kneeling making access easy. It has wheel chair ramps on both doors and safety interlocks built into ramps. Modified slightly to comply with UK requirements, the hybrid has a seating for 30 passengers and standing capacity for a further 30. The vehicles are fitted with remote monitoring which means Designline engineers can talk to the on-board computers monitoring performance and carrying out diagnostic checking from their office in Ashburton.


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