First of its kind coachbuilt low-floor being targeted at bus operators; will be ‘go-to solution’, firm says
Mellor’s coachbuilt Strata low-floor body on Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis debuted on Monday (27 June), and the manufacturer claims that as the first of its kind, it gives a uniquely cost-effective method of providing low-demand bus services.
Developed in co-operation with, and with the full approval of, Mercedes-Benz, the 7.8m-long and 2.3m-wide Strata can seat up to 21 passengers in a 2+2 layout. Either one or two full-size wheelchair bays are provided and a maximum of nine seats (including three tip-ups) can be accessed step-free.
The Sprinter chassis cabs are delivered following the low-floor drop frame’s installation in Germany by a Mercedes-Benz partner. Body framing is added at Mellor’s Scarborough plant and vehicles then move to Rochdale for completion.
“The challenge from day one was to develop a body that is strong yet lightweight. It was also about coming up with a cleverly-engineered solution that challenges people’s existing ideas,” says General Manager John Randerson.
“We wanted to find a solution to the limits of van-based conversions using the Sprinter’s robust and reliable drivetrain, and avoid creating a copy of existing low-floor minibuses.”
Mr Randerson will not yet disclose the Strata’s UVW, but says that it is very low. Its GVW is 5,500kg, achieved without the need for a retarder although one can be specified if required.
The prop shaft is lowered behind the transmission and routed through the chassis cross-members. This, says Mr Randerson, means that it is safe from damage on speed humps.
The PSVAR-compliant Strata is aimed squarely at stage carriage work. It comes with a ticket machine mounting position and is available with an anti-assault screen. Kiel or Rescroft seats are offered initially, but those from other manufacturers can be specified.
Mr Randerson confirms that the first demonstration Strata departs this week for durability testing at Millbrook Proving Ground, which will simulate eight years’ work. A second demonstrator is in build.
Mellor has received orders from three operators already, including McGill’s Buses and Prentice Coaches of Haddington. The Strata’s driveline is a 163bhp engine coupled to a seven-speed automatic gearbox.
Strata is the first coachbuilt low-floor Sprinter-based minibus