Harris Auto continues to promote its coach range ahead of it establishing premises in the UK. The latest addition to the line-up is the Higer Pegasus.
It comes as Harris says setting up a UK dealership is now “a priority” for the Dublin-based importer as it seeks to leverage what has become a major presence in the Irish market.
The existing Harris coach range extends from small LDV V80-based Crusader minis to mid-sized vehicles from both AOS Isuzu and Higer. That line-up has now grown further with the addition of the full-size Higer Pegasus.
Harris claims to have accounted for 24.6% of the Irish market for new coaches so far in 2020. That has primarily come via from its smaller models, but the first Pegasus examples are now hitting the road. Among customers are JJ Kavanagh, Paddywagon and Rice Coaches of Monaghan.
The Pegasus will come to the UK in due course. Harris promises that it is a relatively simple coach that is priced competitively. In 12.4m format it comes with 55 seats, but it is also available with a centre sunken toilet. A PSVAR-compliant version will be offered to UK buyers.
Higer Pegasus due for the UK
Harris has long aspired to establish itself its passenger-carrying range here, as its presence at Coach & Bus UK and Euro Bus Expo for some years has indicated. After first planning to use agents, Harris now accepts that a base of its own is required.
The group has narrowed down prospective locations and expects to make an announcement in due course. The identity of its UK sales team will also be disclosed.
“We will keep stock vehicles in the UK and have a showroom and preparation facilities, although it’s likely that parts will be kept in Dublin,” says General Manager Chris Haughton. “Those can then be shipped overnight when needed.”
The UK centre will support all members of Harris’s coach and bus range, which includes the battery-electric Higer Steed bus. The coach models already detailed are complemented by Mercedes-Benz Sprinter- and Iveco Daily-based members of the Crusader range.
Newcomer looked at in detail
Harris announced some time ago that a full-size Higer would follow the existing Super 9XL.
The Pegasus is in the low-height, higher-capacity category. No plans are in place for a tri-axle variant.
Despite what Harris promises will be keen pricing, the general specification of the Pegasus is good for its category. routeone was able to see and briefly drive one that was soon to be delivered to Rice Coaches.
Power comes from an 8.9-litre Cummins ISL9 engine that develops 400bhp and 1,700Nm of torque. It drives through the ZF EcoLife automatic gearbox.
While those figures are what would be expected for a coach that weighs around 13,500kg unladen, Cummins notes that the ISL9 has the best power to weight ratio in its class.
The ISL9 is a relatively uncommon unit in the UK and Irish coach and bus sectors, but Cummins products have a good reputation for durability. The short drive of the Pegasus showed that the ISL9 is up to the job, and it works well in conjunction with the EcoLife gearbox.
That experience also demonstrated that the coach is remarkably quiet. While there was no opportunity to test it on a poor road surface, the ride seems to be good.
Well-specified on the inside
Internally, there is wood-effect flooring. Vega seats come with three-point belts, USB charging points, drop-down tables and two-tone leather upholstery.
A manually operated offside central emergency exit – not a continental door – is fitted to the Rice coach, with three steps that drop once it is open. There is no rubbing plate on the interior of the emergency door for the lowest step when extended.
In the cab, the steering wheel is adjusted using two screw-tight bolts, one on each side of the column. The dash has a European look and the cruise control buttons are on the steering wheel. A reversing camera is fitted along with an LCD display and controls for the Spheros air-conditioning unit are adjacent.
The sunblind and exterior mirrors are adjusted electrically and the signalling window is heated. Each side of the coach has a single large luggage bay door. They are powered. Alloy wheels are fitted, to size 295/80 R22.5.
10m3 of luggage space is provided and the coach comes with a two-year, unlimited mileage bumper to bumper warranty.
Is now the time for Harris Auto in the UK?
Harris now acknowledges that if it is to form a presence in the UK, a base of its own here is imperative.
The steps to achieve that goal are now in place.
Of its Higer range, the Pegasus complements the Super 9XL well. Higer integral coaches have seen a slow start in the UK, but in Ireland they are now well established.
That Harris has captured almost a quarter of the coach market in the Emerald Isle thus far in 2020 indicates how well both Higer products, those in the Crusader stable and the AOS Isuzu Visigo have been taken to by operators there.