The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter will be the basis for the new 22 passenger low floor bus from Mellor Coachcraft. The coach-built bus, aimed at the mainstream bus market, is unique in that it has space for two wheelchairs in the low floor area, thanks to an extended width on the base model.
The Strata, as the vehicle will be marketed as, has been re-engineered with the full co-operation of Mercedes-Benz including formal approval of the chassis work. The lowered prop shaft sits below the central, low floor section and Mellor has used the latest CAD technology to create the body frame and mouldings.
Destination displays, a ticket machine platform, single-step entry, fold-out wheelchair ramp, bell pushes and ‘bus stopping’ display are all standard features of the Strata. Fully compliant, it meets all DDA regulations. Options such as three-point seatbelts and variable seating plans could also see the Strata being used as a community vehicle.
General Manager John Randerson commented, ‘There is always innovation in the bus market. Recently, Stagecoach’s order for 30 low floor minibuses signals a change in bus fleet demand which the Strata will satisfy. This new design reflects Mellor’s ambition to produce vehicles that reflect operators and users demands for fuel efficient, cost effective and environmentally friendly integrated transport solutions. The market should expect to see further exciting developments in our vehicle line-up in the coming months.’
He continued, ‘We have used the Sprinter as a base vehicle because the driveline has a reputation for performance and reliability, coupled with low running costs and a huge dealer network. We expect the Strata to deliver 22-25 miles per gallon, which could potentially halve fuel costs on some routes. In addition, the Strata will excel in narrow streets and housing estates, where parked cars are a major headache for bus drivers.’
‘Over the past three months there has been significant industry consultation to ensure that the product meets the needs of the industry. This has led to significant order commitment.’
Production will commence in July and Bus and Coach Buyer’s Rob Orchard will be reviewing the vehicle in a forthcoming issue.