Electric low-floor minibus from Mellor is a world first
New Mellor Coachcraft model to get global launch at the Commercial Vehicle Show in April
Mellor Coachcraft is to launch the world’s first fully low-floor electric minibus, the Orion E, at this year’s CV Show.
The Orion E offers a nominal 100-mile range and can accommodate 16 seated passengers or up to 4 wheelchairs. Orion E uses a unique, electric front-wheel drive system to achieve an adaptable, single-step entry, fully low-floor passenger saloon.
The vehicle uses conventional Li-Ion batteries, and has a drive system developed in conjunction with a leading European EV integrator. The power electronics are provided by a class-leading European manufacturer which supplies many of the electric drive components bound for the car and bus industry.
Orion E is visually identical to its conventional sister, Orion, but the chassis cab, on which the Orion model is based now sports an electric drive and gearbox in the engine bay. The low-floor, coach-built body cleverly accommodates its battery packs, distributed in several locations to achieve the best weight distribution possible.
“The project has taken us two years to complete,” said John Randerson, Managing Director of Mellor Coachcraft. “We looked at a number of different electromotive suppliers and products, with the aim of ensuring we could have absolute confidence in the product and drive train.”
“We are extremely proud to be bringing the world’s first electric low-floor minibus to market, in a 12-month period during which Mellor has already launched no fewer than three new models. Our decision to develop this vehicle has been validated by the immediate interest shown by our customers.”
The Orion E has been through prolonged simulated test cycles, achieving compliance with all European regulations. As a result, the Orion E is now being developed as a left-hand drive vehicle for mainland European and other markets.
Congested cities and air pollution targets mean that the need for appropriately sized zero emission bus is greater than ever before. Mellor also sees potential in the base vehicle for inner-city parcel and freight deliveries, particularly as the low floor allows it to avoid many manual handling issues associated with lift platforms and steps.
The first Orion E minibuses are expected to be delivered to customers in July.
The CV Show takes place at the NEC Birmingham between 25 and 27 April.