Management & Operations

Busworld Europe draws record 25,000

Posted on January 1, 2006

Busworld, the European bus and coach exhibition, held its 18th biennial show in Kortrijk, Belgium, drawing a record 25,236 visitors from 107 countries. The event, held Oct. 21 to 26, attracted displays by 48 bus manufacturers and 266 products and services suppliers. In addition to the exhibition, the event included its annual European Coach Week slate of events and the awards ceremonies for Coach of the Year and Bus Builder of the Year. Neoplan AG’s Starliner was named the International Coach of the Year. The award was the result of evaluations and tests by a jury of technical journalists from various European countries. Five other coaches entered the competition, all from European manufacturers. Polish bus manufacturer Solaris Bus & Coach S.A., founded only five years ago, was named Bus Builder of the Year. During the show, attendees learned what new engine developments the bus and coach builders would be introducing, as October 2005 was the target date for the Euro IV engine emission limits for new motorcoaches and buses. October 2006 is the deadline when existing coaches and buses must meet the Euro IV engine emissions standards. Surprisingly, the European trend for emission controls focuses on diesel engine technology, with limited involvement of alternative fuels and drives. Exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) was introduced by European bus manufacturers Scania from Sweden and MAN AG from Germany to achieve the Euro IV standards. With this process, the emission of nitrous oxides is brought to acceptable levels. Other European manufacturers choose to use selective catalytic reduction (SCR), in which an ammonia- or urea-based substance is injected into the exhaust gas to bring emissions of nitrous oxides within the new levels. Although there were many city buses on display, gas-powered buses were few at the show. MAN AG displayed the only gas-powered bus. Hybrid-powered buses were not commonly seen at the exhibition, as they were at the American Public Transportation Association’s International Public Transit Expo in Dallas last September. However, an interest in hybrid technology remains strong in some European countries, particularly Italy. Ford and DaimlerChrysler formed a joint company in Germany to manufacture fuel cells, but they and others face a huge challenge to bring the unit cost to competitive levels. An impressive display of a number of coaches and buses was featured on the Van Hool NV stand. Van Hool also had several vehicles displayed outside the halls, including the Model AGG300 double-articulated bus. Although its double-articulated buses have been available for several years, there has been accelerated interest recently, and deliveries of the AGG300 have been made to transit systems in Aachen and Hamburg, Germany, and Geneva, Switzerland. Irisbus had a large space in one of several exhibition halls. Its new interurban coach, the low-entry Arway, available in 12-meter, 12.8-meter and three-axle 15-meter lengths, was shown for the first time, and the Citelis urban bus was also new at Kortrijk. Both models were unveiled during the trade show. Marcopolo, the large Brazilian bus manufacturer, showed its Viaggio 370 coach for the European market for the first time. Mercedes-Benz displayed its Citaro urban buses, which had a number of changes. Its low-floor 12-meter LE model featured a low front entry and a two-step rear seating section. Turkish-built Mercedes-Benz Tourismo and Tourno coaches were in the Mercedes-Benz exhibit. Adjoining the display, was a range of coaches and buses from Setra. The latter and the Mercedes-Benz buses and coaches are now marketed together under the Evobus flag. Although mergers have reduced the number of bus manufacturers in Europe, Spain has a large contingent of manufacturers continuing to carry the torch. Nine of these manufacturers were represented at the exhibition. Other European builders with sizable exhibits included Volvo Buses, Scania, MAN, VDL Group, and Temsa. While many new coach and bus designs were premiered at Kortrijk, most of the coaches and buses displayed had been introduced previously. In addition to bus displays, the Kortrijk show featured multiple supplier exhibits, demonstrating information systems, electronics, wheelchair lifts, flooring and transmissions. — BILL LUKE

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