Business

Wrightbus secures £8m bus order from Japan and Hong Kong

Wrightbus chief executive Buta Atwal (left), with company chairman Jo Bamford.
Ryan McAleer

BALLYMENA bus-maker Wrightbus has secured an £8 million order for buses from Hong Kong and Japan.

The company, bought out of administration 18 months ago by JCB heir Jo Bamford, said the 45 low emission diesel buses would be manufactured from its base in Malaysia.

Speaking to The Irish News last month, Mr Bamford said the Wrightbus order book had been hit by Covid-19's impact on public transport.

But, the Ballymena firm is continuing to undergo significant investment, with the company matching an £11.2m UK Government grant to develop and manufacture low-cost hydrogen fuel cell technology for buses.

Wrightbus last year launched the world's first zero-emission hydrogen double decker bus.

Speaking yesterday, the company's chief executive Buta Atwal said: “Although we have endured a complicated year like so many manufacturers across the world, these orders will help us emerge from the pandemic with confidence.”

Nathan Hodge, who heads the Wrightbus international division, said there was growing global optimism.

He said the company is currently in discussions in Australia about hydrogen buses.

“While Australia is seen by many to be among the leaders of hydrogen technology, there is only one hydrogen bus in the country so there's a huge amount of potential,” he said.

“Countries like Malaysia, which exports oil, will always find the cost of hydrogen or electric buses prohibitive, yet that's where our near-zero diesel comes in.”

Mr Hodge said the ASEAN free-trade agreement signed last year would ensure tariff-free movement of goods from the Wrightbus factory in Malaysia.

“Naturally having a factory in the far east enables us to be part of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which provides tariff-free trade to the southeast Asian nations as well as Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.”

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