Sunday 29 November 2015

Development Of The MMC

Out of all the new buses I've been on this year the most impressive was the E400MMC I'm grateful yet again to Tim Miller for pointing me in the direction of this video produced by Alexander Dennis showing how the MMC was developed in conjunction with all the major operators. It's a really interesting video and worth a watch. I'll make my observations below.

One of the things that made me smile was when a "rattle free bus" was described as the Holy Grail. Erm try an Olympian or Routemaster and I think you'll find the Grail was found many, many years ago. However it was good to see eliminating rattles was important to them and shows I wasn't the only whinging git regarding them!

Also funny to see the guy from Lothian Buses saying how good they were and no reason why they shoudn't buy them. Lothian then went straight down the Wrightbus road!

**I have subsequently been informed that Lothian did in fact originally order Volvo B5LH's with E400MMC bodies. (Didn't even know ADL put bodies on Volvo chassis) However ADL were unable to meet the deadline to qualify for finding b the Scottish Green Bus fund so the order was diverted to Wrightbbus. Many thanks, Paul for the info**

Alexander Dennis stated they have made over 200 changes to the E400 by listening to customers. That's really good, and the new E400 is a huge improvement, but my word it's a massive indictment on the old model. Those who have constantly criticised it, myself included can feel rather vindicated. Perhaps in a small way we can all feel responsible for this vastly improved bus.


  1. Thank you for the video - Excellent!

  2. excellent video and great to watch too

  3. Hi Steve as you know Galloway has 2 new solos one is349 kj615ewf I believe the other one is 350 they are in a new livery like the new coach livery the hired in solos have lefted the fleet

  4. "(Didn't even know ADL put bodies on Volvo chassis)"

    Didn't you? They've done so for years now. Unless I'm going mad, I think there's a post somewhere on here from you referring to them doing just that too (I'd link, but Blogger is running like a dog for me).

    In fairness though when it comes to E400s, with Scania being the heavy duty chassis option and ADL chassis being the lightweight option, there's not really been a lot of call over the years for the Volvo chassis option which appears to be positioned somewhere in the middle - as I recall the only 'big' batch went to Arriva. Stagecoach have some MMC bodied hybrids on Volvo chassis now though, so it could end up more of a regular thing over time.

    1. I know Alexander put bodies on Volvo chassis - Ailsa and Citibus to name but two - I was meaning since they teamed up with Dennis. I will have to search out the B5LH MMC's though and compare them with the Wright bodied versions.

    2. Yeah, I was meaning since they teamed up with Dennis as well. I don't think they've stopped since they were Alexander to be honest, with Volvo chassis being one of a number of chassis options available.

      Just off the top of my head, when it comes to options there's; E500 on B9TL (as mentioned by anon Stuart below), E400 MMC on B5LH, E400 on B9TL (and one or two early ones on B7TL), ALX400 with B7TL and President with B7TL as well.

      After a little digging, it's not just deckers; E300 has a B7RLE chassis option, ALX300 had a B10BLE option and ALX200 had a B6LE option.

      Anyway, as I'm starting to go on, there aren't many B5LH MMCs about at the moment. According to a quick Google they're only, London aside, out and about in Stagecoach Strathtay (Dundee and thereabouts) on conductor operated service 73.

    3. To be fair in the last 8 years or so the sight of an ADL bus body on Volvo chassis has been an unusual option of note rather than the market leading combination it used to be (excluding Plaxton coach bodies which are almost exclusively on Volvo chassis now). For the UK mainland market you had a couple of prototype E400s on B7TL chassis (for Go-Ahead & Arriva I think) plus a handful of E400s on B9TL chassis (East Yorkshire plus a couple of London ops I think) and that was about it between the launch of the Enviro in 2006 & the move to Euro 6 last year.

      I think it depended on Volvo marketing the link and recently they were largely treating it as a speciality option rather than standard offering (essentially if you asked they would arrange), with Wrightbus as their favoured supplier. All the major European chassis manufacturers have been trying to reduce the number of body builder options to a few favoured builders due to the need on modern vehicles for the body to be so intrinsic to the whole build of the vehicle. Under Transbus the merged Alexander & Dennis businesses were trying to major on complete vehicles with only the decker options remaining (which had the added effect of pushing Volvo & Wrights closer together), there was a brief flurry under early ADL as the E400 was launched of offering Volvo chassis with E400 bodies but orders dropped away quickly in later years with Volvo favouring Wright with MCV as their alternative. Hong Kong always retained their preference for ADL bodies but with Volvo retaining a strong share of the chassis market but even here Volvo were pushing other body builders as an alternative to ADL. Translink in Northern Ireland, desiring British content where possible, got Volvo & ADL to supply the E300 on B7RLE chassis for rural & school buses but they have been largely the only people to take that option. With ADL being the lead bus builder for Scania in the UK market (as Wright has been for Volvo) the two ranges have largely separated but the option has always been there if requested in sufficient volume. With the step to Euro 6 Volvo appear to have been reviewing their offering and are trying to push the ADL option a bit more, possibly in reaction to the Wright moving to their own complete vehicle range meaning that they are less likely to push the Volvo range as preferred option so Volvo are now more on an equal footing with their 3 bus suppliers to the UK market (Wright, ADL & MCV) in terms of their priorities.

    4. Not much to add to this other than I agree. Additionally, with practically the only way of telling the different types of E400 (Volvo/ADL/Scania) apart with any ease is by the back window, it is to be fair very easy to miss.

      With that in mind my raised eyebrows were more from the fact that First in Ipswich have some later (05 reg) ALX400s trundling around (32653, 32655/6 come to mind) with B7TL chassis, built by the ADL as we know it today, and I'm surprised they got missed.

      Anyway, I know I'm going on, so I'll shut up now - sorry Steve!

    5. Dwarfer thank you - I don't feel as silly now. Tinker you are certainly right but believe it or not the ALX400 never crossed my mind as I thought that predated the join up with Dennis. There you go - I'm human after all. Thanks to everyone for your contributions!

  5. In Hong Kong they've been putting Enviro 500 bodies on Volvo for a long time, they run them in the hundreds alongside regular adl chassis.