Scrappage among bus manufacturers’ hopes for support

The UK’s three largest bus manufacturers – Alexander Dennis (ADL), Optare and Wrightbus – have written to Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps asking him to work with them to support and secure the sector’s future.

The letter is signed by ADL Chief Executive Colin Robertson, Optare Chief Executive Graham Belgum and Wrightbus Chief Executive Buta Atwal in addition to Confederation of Passenger Transport Chief Executive Graham Vidler. It says that by helping manufacturers, Mr Shapps will save thousands of jobs while delivering the government’s clean air targets.

Mechanisms such as scrappage schemes, procurement grants and the financing of leasing arrangements are among suggestions raised in the letter.

The signatories also call for the release of funding to allow operators to place orders. If that does not happen, “fleet investment is likely to be cut back heavily in the remainder of 2020 and well into 2021,” they say.

Forward orders have already been “drastically reduced”, and the three manufacturers add that many operators have deferred or cancelled planned new vehicle deliveries.

“The entire industry was delighted by the Prime Minister’s pledge to support investment in ultra-low- and zero-emission buses during this parliament,” the letter continues.

“However, the coronavirus COVID-19 crisis represents an immediate threat to the future of the UK bus manufacturing industry and its extensive supply chain. Without immediate support, future orders will not be forthcoming, placing over 10,000 jobs and apprenticeship opportunities at risk.”

The three companies and Mr Vidler note that the UK’s bus manufacturing industry “is a global leader and a technological centre of excellence,” and that it accounts for more than 10% of the country’s motor industry employment total.