Roy McCarthy Coaches has placed an order for a 12.2m short wheelbase Plaxton Panther, the first of its type. The new Panther will be on a Euro6 Volvo B8R chassis with ZF automatic transmission. It will have 49 seats, centre toilet, fridge, boiler and a radio PA system. The announcement comes weeks after the Macclesfield based operator took delivery of a 12.2m Plaxton Leopard.
MD, Andy McCarthy, said, ‘The performance of the new Leopard was so good that we simply sat down with Plaxton and said we believe there is a market opportunity for a similar sized, short Panther. They did their homework and came back with a positive response. Like us, many independent operators do a lot of business in rural areas and, in association with school contracts, we often find ourselves trying to turn vehicles in tight, restricted areas, so an improved turning circle is a big bonus. Our 12.2m Leopard has been brilliant in such circumstances and I’m sure the Panther will be the same. As I’ve said before, there is the added bonus that new drivers are more comfortable with shorter vehicles, which makes the learning curve a lot easier before they progress to full length vehicles. I can’t praise Plaxton enough. They sat down, listened and acknowledged that there is an opportunity to create a new, niche sector. I’m sure they will be proved absolutely right. There are many long established, family run companies like our own and, after all, we wouldn’t be in business for 45 years without knowing what we are talking about.’
Regional Sales Manager at Plaxton, Simon Wood, said, ‘Andy McCarthy has said it all really. He knows what he is talking about and when we researched the opportunity with other operators we came to the conclusion that there may well be a very strong, niche sector for this type of coach. As Andy indicated, there are a huge amount of small operators providing services of one form or another in very rural areas. The feedback is that they would welcome a short version of the proven Panther, which will sit comfortably alongside our recently introduced 12.2m Leopard. At the end of the day it is our job to listen to the wants and needs of our customers and that is exactly what we have done. There has already been a very positive response in the market place, which I am sure will grow even more as the word spreads.’