‘Ground-breaking’ zero-emission Orion E debuts

first_imgTwo-year development period culminates at CV Show as full low-floor battery mini stars on Eberspächer stand; Production is ‘ready to go’. says Mellor Coachcraft Managing Director John RandersonMellor Coachcraft’s Orion E zero-emission 16-seat minibus made its debut at the CV Show in April, and Managing Director John Randerson says that the Rochdale manufacturer is “ready to go” for orders of production vehicles.“To release a 16-seat low-floor minibus that is completely emission-free is ground-breaking. That configuration is not available on any other model and we have spent two years working with our partners Eberspächer and Emoss to develop it.”The prototype Orion E was built on a Fiat Ducato chassis supplied with a Euro 5 diesel engine. The factory driveline was removed by Mellor and replaced with an electric motor and power pack.Subsequent Orion Es will be built on the Euro 6 Ducato, and include its updated styling. They will be certified under the European Whole Vehicle Type Approval scheme.“This type of vehicle comes into its own in urban environments and we have already seen that the government intends to take a tough line on air quality,” says Mr Randerson.“The Orion E’s internal layout is configurable to the operator’s needs and it will be at home on both social needs and stage carriage work.”Mellor remains tight-lipped on the Orion E’s unladen weight; there is a weight penalty over a diesel Orion, but Mr Randerson points out that the Orion E “is easily light enough to carry 16 passengers.” Its additional weight is all made up of battery mass.From a cosmetic viewpoint the Orion E is almost identical to its diesel-fuelled sister. “The only difference is that the Orion E has no exhaust pipe and it has two small battery boxes internally at the rear. There is no intrusion of the electric driveline into the saloon.”Mr Randerson also says that the electric driveline in the Orion E is suitable for transplant to other members of Mellor’s range.“I favour continual product evolution and addition of further zero-emission vehicles will happen when we see a demand from our customers for them. I continually challenge our engineering team to make the products better, and it is doing that.”Meanwhile, Mr Randerson has confirmed plans to increase capacity at Mellor’s Miall Street base. It is in the process of increasing space there which in the long term could allow production of 500 minibuses per annum. Currently, it maxes out at 300.“We have the right products, but we must also think about how we fulfil customer demand,” he says. “The business recognises that as it grows, capacity will be constrained. I want to retain a centre of excellence at Rochdale and so we are in the process of expanding our premises there.”www.mellor-coachcraft.co.uklast_img