So when a kind soul told me he had seen a 61 plate Volvo B5LH Gemini 3 heading into Borderbus I was slightly confused. As far as I knew there were no plans to buy one, and surely it couldn't be a demonstrator on a 61 plate unless it was a cherished registration. I wasn't even aware Gemini 3's were around in 2011, and it turns out they weren't, being launched in 2013, so this bus is an enigma - was it a prototype, or is it not as old as I'm led to believe! I'm sure someone out there will know.
Anyway it turns out to be a demonstrator. Trouble is it's not an up to date demonstrator. I have been on later examples which have a much faster electric to diesel transition, and a gearbox that doesn't sound like a semi auto. So it can only be called a demonstrator of a second hand bus!
|Volvo B5LH DX61 EOM in Pakefield|
|Far more comfy than they look but that colour....|
|In the sun at St Stephen's St Norwich|
The demand for smaller engines, which in turn has led to a demand for less weight for those smaller engines to drive around has resulted in passenger comfort being sacrificed. Oh yes high back leather seats are the norm now but suspension isn't. Why is it whenever I get on a bus with traditional bus seats they feel better? Why do buses rattle more now than they did 20 years ago? That's not progress. I'm the first to complain about loud headphones on buses but if they can't hear the music over rattles and noisy unnecessary air chill systems than who can blame them. I shouldn't be delighted, as I was on Wednesday because I had something nice to write about a bus. That should be the norm not the exception.
|Two Geminis together. I know which one I prefer.|
Borderbus have the B5LH on loan until the end of next week and I'd recommend a ride on it, if only because it's the only hybrid in Suffolk or Norfolk to my knowledge, unless I'm forgetting something obvious!
Since posting I have been contacted by Andrew Pursey at Borderbus, with the following clarification.
Some further info re your post.
The bus we have is one of 3 hybrid's that Volvo have for sale.
As they don't have a demo vehicle as such, they kindly lent me one of their sales vehicles.
As David has already mentioned, fuel economy is one of the main things we are looking for when trailing potential purchases.
Here's a real life example for you to ponder:
146's longest duty is 260 miles per day.
146 operates 305 days per year.
We are getting apx 5mpg from a 2003 Volvo Gemini
All 3 new demo buses, thus far, achieved apx 10mpg
Do we keep an older bus doing 5mpg or
Do we but a new bus that does 10mpg or
Do we find something in the middle?
Many thanks, Andrew for clearing things up - it's a loan not a demonstrator!
I have also been contacted by Richard Mann, Area Sales Manager for Volvo Coach Sales, who also clarified things:
Hi Steve. I'd like to point out this bus isn't a demonstrator, it's from our used vehicle stock and Borderbus & I discussed a loan to see how the fuel economy performed. It's not planned to go elsewhere on loan and will return to our used vehicle stock once Borderbus have finished their fuel trials.
Volvo have over 1000 hybrids on the road in UK and as established product we don't have a demonstrator unfortunately, as I agree that a brand new vehicle would be better.
Great to hear from you, Richard, and it does rather back me up that as an established bus it was tough to write a review on! Richard is also going to investigate why a 61 registration is on a body that wasn't launched until 2013! I get great pleasure when the industry takes the time to clarify things I have written - always a privilege to talk to them and worth being wrong sometimes!