Part 11 here
DEREGULATION'S EFFECT ON MANUFACTURERS PART ii
Part 10 in this mini-series considered Duple, Plaxton, Carlyle and Northern Counties. A separate post looked at Bedfords.
Leyland Buses, who successfully introduced the National’s replacement Lynx chassis in 1986, was divested to its management in 1987 and subsequently sold a year later to the world’s second largest bus manufacturer, Volvo Bus. When Volvo closed the former National Workington body plant in 1990, it provided a temporary fillip for rival manufacturers, at a time of deep recession. The Leyland name itself disappeared in 1993, with future products badged Volvo. Its Irvine plant finally closed in 2000, even after heavy Volvo investment. In spite of competition from Alexander Dennis Ltd, Volvo nevertheless remains the strongest supplier of UK PSV chassis, benefiting from Transbus International uncertainties in 2004. Buses and some coaches to be bodied in the UK, many by Wright’s.
In spite of a commercial vehicle bodybuiling history dating back to 1946, Irish Wright’s was virtually unknown on the mainland. Its first major order – from Maidstone – was in 1982, but the pivotal order came eight years later for 90 bodies on Renault minibus chassis, for London Buses. Thereafter, the relatively successful but somewhat old fashioned looking Handybus on the Dennis Dart chassis would increasingly develop into increasingly stylish bodies, Wright becoming the UK’s largest bus body manufacturer and, indeed, pioneer in 1993 of Britain’s low floor bus body.
Wright was able to buck the UK manufacturing trend in the 1990s and can, in fact, be called an phenomenon. There was a less easy road for established coachbuilder East Lancs. Its dominant market was the smaller municipal operating industry which, between 1968 and 1974, had already considerably declined with the advent of the PTEs and now, with privatisation and deregulation, faced an uncertain future. Parent John Brown Engineering sold East Lancs in 1988. An uncertain future was shored up by Drawlane Group purchases – especially from 1991 with quantities of the now much maligned refurbished Leyland Nationals, known as Greenways. These filled a gap during which time uncertainties within the operating industry meant operators could ill afford to consider new builds. Following close association with Drawlane’s business and concentrating again from 1995 on new builds, ELC was again plunged into uncertainty in 1996 when the Cowie Group bought Drawlane (then British Bus) and disassociated itself with ELC. Thereafter, ELC has supplied quantities of vehicles usually to an eclectic mix of usually smaller fleets.
To be continued...
Sunday, 4 June 2006
Part 11 here
Posted Sunday, June 04, 2006