ANKAI TO BE NEXT CHINESE COACH ON THE EUROPEAN MARKET?
Chinese coach manufacturer Ankai might be using the British and Irish market as a hub to enter the whole of the European market. Ankai will arrive early next year in the UK with its 12m A9 coach. It is also talking about adding a midicoach and some double-decker buses later. Ankai’s 12m A9 is powered by a Cummins engine and it arrives here in early 2018
A left-hand drive A9 will appear at Busworld Kortrijk in October, and Ankai - which has employed consultants to help it crack the UK and Ireland - says that its appearance will signify an opening of the order book for right-hand drive A9s.
The coach at Busworld should be viewed as a development model. Ankai wants operators to look at it and then talk to them. Ankai is committed to establishing a presence in Europe and it wants to learn from its potential buyers. Much work has gone into giving the A9 a European look. Ankai’s European aspirations have the backing of a business that produces 30,000 vehicles per year. It also promises one of the best-value products on the market. Additionally, work has already started on premises in the Sheffield City Region.
Ankai describes the A9 as an all-purpose model that is suited to a variety of work. It is a new product and its 400bhp, 8.9-litre Cummins ISL engine will drive through a ZF EcoLife gearbox. Cummins is Ankai’s favoured power unit supplier for European vehicles, and all of the engines that it uses will be built at Darlington.
The A9 at Busworld will be accompanied by an aluminium-bodied double-decker bus, and Ankai is exploring zero-emission drivelines in the latter segment.
As a pan-European coach, the A9 will be certified via the EC Whole Vehicle Type Approval process. Other models will receive Individual Vehicle Approval. Ankai’s UK representatives are already talking of adding a 9.4m rear-engined midicoach seating up to 39 passengers, subject to customer demand.
The manufacturer currently builds the midi in both integral and body-on-chassis form. It will decide later which of the two may come to the UK, but the integral looks most likely. Additionally, there is also potential to stretch the as-yet unnamed midi to 10.1m, which would give a maximum of 43 seats. Power is likely to be from a Cummins ISB6.7 engine rated at 320bhp coupled to a ZF EcoLife gearbox.