In early May, Fleet Bus & Coach hosted the International Bus of the Year (IBOY) Bus Euro Test event in Limerick. It marked the first time in the history of the pan-European Awards that the group test assessment had been held in Ireland to select the overall winner of the coveted title. A warm welcome was extended to the jury members and representatives from five bus manufacturers – Higer, MAN, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz and Karsan.
While the focus of the event was to learn about and test the buses, before a vote is cast to select the winner, a social dimension was also part of the event. Having received a civic reception from Daniel Butler, Limerick City & County Mayor, delegates also enjoyed some fine Irish traditional hospitality during their visit.
On to the test itself, and the fact that all of the buses being assessed were electric powered did present some challenges.
Open to manufacturers participating in the European market, this year’s competition attracted quite different entries. The criteria for the test stipulated two axle vehicles with electric drivelines to give a reasonable degree of comparability. Unusually, right hand drive vehicles outnumbered left hand drive ones, reflecting the fact that this was the first time that the Bus Euro Test has ever been staged in Ireland.
Daimler Bus through its Mercedes-Benz brand brought over the e-Citaro RHD which is currently serving as a demonstration bus in the UK. Volvo entered the BZL electric chassis with a completely new body by MCV that will be offered direct by Volvo, while the Harris Group supplied the 12m Higer Azure. MAN’s offering was the Lion’s City E and Turkish manufacturer Karsan provided the e-ATAK.
The winner of the International Bus of the Year 2023 will be announced later this year at a special ceremony. Fleet Bus & Coach would like to acknowledge the sponsorship from Busworld, ZF, Tranzaura, FTA Ireland, The Coach Tourism & Transport Council of Ireland (CTTC), National Transport Authority and Citylink. The excellent facilities of the Limerick Racecourse were used, national coach operator Eireagle provided transfers between Dublin Airport and Limerick, while local operator, Martin’s Coaches ran local shuttles. Former IBOY Chairman and UK jury member Stuart Jones, summed up his time in Limerick:
“The warmth of an Irish welcome is no myth, as we experienced several instances of people coming out of their houses, not to complain, but to ask about the vehicles and the event, which also featured on national television locally and in the local press. Fleet Bus & Coach, between them they not only provided everyone involved with a very professionally run Euro Test, but also with an appreciation of how Irish people cherish their culture and like to enjoy themselves. I’m sure many of us will be going back.”