ENSIGN ENTERPRISE – AUSTRALIAN DESIGN MADE IN CHINA
Marketed as the Ensign Enterprise, the PSVAR-compliant, air-conditioned buses are 12.5m long and a valuable addition to the UK marketplace. They are built by Australian manufacturer BCI, connected with the former Australian Denning bus make, at its Chinese assembly plant and shipped complete. All of BCI’s double-deckers are produced at its Xiamen assembly plant and any concerns around build quality are misplaced, says the manufacturer.
The facility builds for export only and has extensive experience with the Australasian market, and thus BCI’s buses are designed to Western standards from the ground up.
The first five Enterprises seat 98 passengers, which means that three classes of school children can be carried at once, and Ensign is confident that it will sell the model in reasonable numbers. The first bus was built for the New Zealand market.
To Ensign’s specification, the imposing Enterprise is much a hybrid of a coach and a bus, and it targets a niche in the market that the Essex business has exploited before in its dealer capacity.
Ensign has made an excellent start with its initial batch of Enterprises. Four will join its own fleet while the fifth has already been sold to Liverpool operator Aintree Coachline, where it will enter service coming September.
Power comes from an 8.9-litre Euro 6 Cummins ISL engine that develops 380bhp and drives through a ZF EcoLife gearbox.
Unladen weight of the Enterprise to Ensign’s specification is 16,285kg and GVW is 24,000kg. It rides on 315/80 tyres all round; this is made necessary by the substantial 8,500kg front axle rating, which banishes any worries of overloading it. The third axle steers, aiding manoeuvrability.
Twelve two-axle double-decker buses will arrive before the end of 2016, the smaller buses will be 10.8m long, and like their big brother the Enterprise, they have come about as a result of Ensign’s inability to find exactly what it wanted on the domestic market. BCI manufactures 52 different coaches and buses,