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Posted on 13 Mar 2017 at 14:30
Mellor Coachcraft will launch what it claims is the world’s first full low-floor electric minibus at this year’s CV Show at Birmingham (25-27 April).
The Orion E minibus has a nominal 100-mile range, according to Mellor, and can carry 16 seated passengers or up to four wheelchairs. The Orion E uses an electric front-wheel drive system with lithium ion batteries and has a single-step entry to a fully low-floor passenger saloon.
The new model looks identical to the diesel-powered Orion, and is based on the same chassis cab with an electric drive and gearbox in the engine bay. The battery packs have been distributed in several locations to optimise weight distribution.
“The project has taken us two years to complete,” says John Randerson, managing director, Mellor Coachcraft. “We looked at a number of different electromotive suppliers and products, with the aim of ensuring we could have absolute confidence in the product and drive train.
“We are extremely proud to be bringing the world’s first electric low-floor minibus to market, in a 12-month period during which Mellor has already launched no fewer than three new models. Our decision to develop this vehicle has been validated by the immediate interest shown by our customers.”
The Orion E has completed prolonged simulated test cycles, achieving compliance with all European regulations, according to Mellor and is also being developed as a left-hand drive vehicle for mainland European and other markets. Mellor is also eyeing up other sectors with an electric vehicle, including inner-city parcel and freight deliveries, where the low floor offers better manual handling than lift platforms and steps.
The Orion E minibuses are equipped with J & A Kay products, such as, the pillar cappings, coves, side casings and skirtings.