Plaxton returns to double-deck with Panorama


Volvo develops custom B11RLE chassis to go with model; first orders are already placed, including retail

The first Panorama double-decker is a PSVAR-certified, 14.5m, 87-seater

Plaxton has returned to a sector that it last served three decades ago with the Panorama double-decker, built on a custom Volvo B11RLE low-entry chassis.

The Panorama incorporates certain styling elements from the Elite-i, but otherwise it is all new. Initially it will be built at a length of 14.5m and with a maximum of 87 seats, but Plaxton does not rule out shorter variants as it eyes the retail market.

An order has already been taken from Stagecoach’s West Scotland subsidiary for five PSVAR-certified Panoramas for the X76 route between Glasgow and Kilmarnock. One has also been sold to an unnamed retail buyer.

Access is key

Key to the Panorama, and where it differs from other double-decker coaches, is its high level of accessibility.

In what is believed to be a first in its segment, the Panorama is completely step-free throughout the lower deck. Combined with a wide ‘throat’ and an offside staircase, that allows wheelchair users to be boarded at both doors.

The whole of the lower saloon can be occupied by wheelchairs if the operator wishes, and Plaxton offers a variety of ways in which to accommodate them. Headroom on the lower deck also allows large luggage racks to be fitted there.

The Panorama has been developed in partnership with Stagecoach, but both Plaxton and Volvo see it as a strong prospect for tour work. Many customisation options are available and the 87-seat demonstrator will be offered for evaluation later in the summer.

A new chassis

Volvo has developed the B11RLE to suit the Panorama. It combines a B11R rear module with an uprated RLE bus front unit. The demonstrator is powered by the D11K engine rated at 460bhp.

As the floor is flat, incorporating enough rigidity to satisfy rollover regulation was a challenge, says Plaxton. It has increased the thickness of some body side members, among other structural innovations.

Plaxton has also unveiled the low-entry Panther LE single-decker, built on a 14.6m tri-axle Volvo B8RLE chassis.

A full report on both the Panorama and the Panther LE will follow.