Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Wrightbus wins £8m deal to build 45 buses For Hong Kong and Japan

Wrightbus has won deals totalling £8m to build 45 buses for Hong Kong and Japan as hopes also build for new orders in Australia .

The low-emission vehicles will be built at Wrightbus' Malaysia factory, which has around 380 staff.

Its Ballymena headquarters now employ 630 people, around 18 months after it was sold while in administration to Bamford Bus Company.

The company said it was a "significant" milestone for the company and would boost the profile of the brand overseas.

Chief executive Buta Atwal said Wrightbus was now leading the way in bus technology.

"Whether it's our world-first hydrogen bus, our near-zero emission diesel or our single-deck electric, the Wrightbus name stands for excellence in the bus world.

"Although we have endured a complicated year like so many manufacturers across the world, these orders will help us emerge from the pandemic with confidence."

Wrightbus has also launched the world's first zero-emission hydrogen double decker bus.

It recently announced 40 new jobs for Ballymena as it aims to capitalise from a pledge by the Prime Minister to build at least 4,000 new zero-emission buses.

The business is hiring production and office staff, including coachbuilders, spray painters, welders, electrical engineers, technicians, accountants, sales staff and a project manager.

There will also be 19 apprenticeships among the 40 roles, as well as a position for an international project engineer.

Nathan Hodge, head of the Wrightbus international division, said: "While it hasn't got to the tender stage yet, we are having some really good discussions in Australia about hydrogen buses," he said.

A Wrightbus Hydrogen Chassis

"While Australia is seen by many to be among the leaders of hydrogen technology, there is only one hydrogen bus in the country so there's a huge amount of potential.

"Countries like Malaysia, which exports oil, will always find the cost of hydrogen or electric buses prohibitive, yet that's where our near-zero diesel comes in."

Mr Hodge said a free-trade agreement signed last year by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations would ensure tariff-free movement of goods from the Wrightbus factory in Malaysia.

He added: "Naturally having a factory in the Far East enables us to be part of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which provides tariff-free trade to the Southeast Asian Nations as well as Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea."

Last month, the UK government announced funding for green projects to produce electric trucks and hyrodrogen-powered buses.

Wrightbus was allocated £11.2m to develop and manufacture low-cost hydrogen fuel cell technology for buses and create a hydrogen centre of excellence. The acquisition of Wrightbus by Bamford Bus Company in 2019 marked the end of 73 years of ownership by the Wright family, including surviving founder Sir William Wright. Its former premises at Galgorm Industrial Estate are on the market for £6m.