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Higer's Citibus Shines

Monday, January 11, 2016

The first Higer Citibus has rolled off the production line and is on its way to Sydney. The bus will undergo final testing before it is put through its paces on a tour of operators around Australia.

With a modern European design, the new Higer Citibus features a striking LED headlight cluster as part of the modular front end. The modern styling continues through to the interior highlighted by the functional driver's cabin area and Styleride passenger seats.

Higer have spent a number of years working closely with various Australian engineers to develop a Citibus that meets Australian specifications. Key features around passenger comfort, accessibility and safety have been incorporated into the design so that the Higer Citibus can go head-to-head with the best from local body builders.

Driveline components are sourced from well-known European and American suppliers, providing operators with peace of mind and familiarity compared with existing fleets, including Cummins ISL engine, Allison transmission, ZF axles and VDO multiplex system.

"This is a really exciting time for Higer Australia as we look to break into the very competitive low-floor market" said Neil Bamford, CEO for Higer Bus and Coach Australia.

"We understand the high expectations of metro operators, and have partnered with the Higer factory to produce a quality product that meets those expectations."

To improve the customer experience, Higer Australia has established a direct salesforce operating out of NSW, Queensland, Victoria and WA. Francis Burdock heads the sales team which complements the existing Higer dealership network around Australia. This new team will not only look to drive Higer sales but also provide necessary customer support for existing Higer owners.

Kevin Goverd is looking after both metro and regional markets around NSW, having recently followed the BusNSW Rural and Regional tours.  Industry stalwart Paul "Rocky" Rochester has responsibility for the Victorian market, while the newest Higer recruit Armando Baylon is looking after Western Australia.  After a long career on the parts side of the industry, David Blower assumes the sales and customer support role for Queensland.

Soon to move to a new location in Moorebank, Higer stocks more than $1.4m in parts at its Sydney warehouse with an additional $0.4m in parts held by its national dealer network.  The increased level of parts holdings was instituted to address customer concerns that overseas manufacturers do not hold sufficient parts stock on the ground.

The new Higer Citibus joins the well-established range of Higer Coaches, from the 28 seat Higer H7170, to the 57 seat Higer H12320C.

"And we're not done yet" said Mr Burdock. "In 2016 we will be looking to the future with a range of new energy buses, from parallel hybrid driveline for the Citibus to full-electric solutions utilising supercapacitors and overhead charge points."Both of these new energy options rely upon highly efficient Siemens electric motors and AOWEI supercapacitors (also called ultracapacitors).

A rapidly emerging and increasingly applied technology, supercapacitors are capable of storing and discharging energy very quickly and effectively. The supercapacitor harvests power from regenerative braking, releasing power as required and minimising the use of a diesel engine. This technology is perfectly suited to urban applications due to their stop start nature.

In its pure electric form, the Higer Citibus can cover more than 20km after less than 10 minutes charge time.  Charging is via an innovative overhead gantry charging system. This means that a bus could complete a typical suburban route, and charge back to full while the driver prepares for the next run at a station or interchange.

The advantages of a supercapacitor over other electric buses that rely on Lithium-ion batteries include faster charging, maximum utilisation of brake regeneration, minimal leakage when not in use, and significantly longer life. After successful trials in Europe and the Middle East, Higer is looking to partner with Australian operators in order to examine the viability of such a system locally.

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