Optare enters small bus market with the Bonito

Published:  17 January, 2012

Optare announces today that it will be entering the small and accessible bus market this year with an all new Optare-badged model ˆ the Bonito. The vehicle, produced in the Netherlands by Plastisol to Optare‚s specification, will be sold directly by Optare‚s sales force and represents a growth opportunity for the company.

The Bonito will go on sale to British operators from June, with potential export sales in other European markets following on. It uses a fully integrated composite body structure with accommodation for up to 16 passengers and no separate chassis.

It is based on the highly successful Fiat Ducato Maxi light commercial vehicle which features a gross vehicle weight of 4 tonnes, a 2999cc 157bhp diesel engine, and a choice of six speed manual or semi-automatic transmission. In due course Optare will offer specification options ensuring that the Bonito is attractive for all major UK city operations.

Glenn Saint, Optare‚s Chief Operating Officer, said: „We have been looking at a number of routes to enter the important small bus/accessible vehicle market and are convinced that the fully developed Bonito is the right answer. We have a proven and successful direct sales team and service network which can fully support this competitive and attractive product.

„This move is consistent with the full review and re-positioning of Optare‚s product range for growth and follows on the heels of the announcements about Solo and also launch of the new Tempo SR in October last year. We will be making an announcement about development of the Versa product for UK and export markets in Q2 this year‰.

Full specification details of the new Bonito will be announced in the near future.

Simultaneously with its entry into the small bus market, Optare is announcing that it is to withdraw from the small luxury coach market, bringing to an end its long term partnership with Spanish coachbuilder Ferqui which has supplied a range of Optare-badged, Mercedes-based products.

„I am pleased to say that we are in negotiations with a number of parties which may lead to the two current models, the Soroco and Toro, continuing to be available in the UK, though outside the Optare brand‰ said Glenn Saint.

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