Optare plc is a bus manufacturer based in the United Kingdom. They are attributed to introducing low floor buses to the UK transit market, and have had many innovations since.
Optare began in 1985 with the purchase of the formerly Leyland-owned Roe in Crossgates, Leeds by a group employees. This was during a time of uncertainty regarding the forthcoming deregulation of the bus industry. Initially constructing buses in co-operation with chassis manufactures, Optare later developed it's own under-frames and consequently integral buses. With skills from the former Roe company, they built their buses. Initially only produced minibuses, they moved on to larger buses with the purchase of some vehicle designs from Metro Cammell Weyman (MCW).
In 1990, they were bought by United Bus, but collapsed in 1993 which lead to a second buyout by the employees. In 1997 they acquired Autobus, who specialized in luxury midicoach bodies on Mercedes-Benz chassis. They also opened a second factory in Rotherham, and began importing small coaches from the Spanish bodybuilder Ferqui and badging them as Optare products. In 2000, Optare was acquired by North American Bus Industries (NABI) which allowed the company to expand into the North America and continental Europe markets. However following restructuring at NABI during 2005, Optare was again bought back by its management in August 2005.
In March 2008, Optare was bought by Jamesstan Investments. Jamesstan Investments' sole shareholder Roy Stanley founded the Darwen Group in August 2007 to take over ailing East Lancshire Coachbuilders. The whole organization became known as Optare, thus keeping the prominent name. The former products of the Darwen group, which were those of East Lancs, became Optare products.
In late 2009, Optare introduced their Eco Drive concept. This conecpt is based on environmental friendliness and fuel economy using light-weight products and clean drive options. With Optare’s removable power pack installation, their products allow easy conversion of existing vehicles to the new technologies.
Optare offers a diesel and compressed natural gas (bio-methane) combination as an alternative to diesel on its own. This dual fuel combination produces 26% less carbon than diesel, and the bio-methane can be derived from landfill waste gas or anaerobic digestion. The bio-methane gas stored in tanks on the roof of the bus and is delivered automatically into the fuel injection system in differing proportions according to temperatures in the engine. This system can be retrofitted to existing vehicle at a cost of between £25,000 and £30,000 as stated by Optare. Another alternative to using only diesel is Pure Plant Oil (PPO) from Regenatec. The vegetable oil from rapeseed or macadamia gives a reduction of up to 80% in carbon dioxide. Existing vehicle can be retrofitted to use PRO. This requires the installation of a heating system for the oil at an on-cost of £9,900 as stated by Optare.
Optare further developes it's use of hybrid technology in offering more vehicles with the hybrid option and different hybrid systems. Joining the Solo and Tempo in having the hybrid option is the Versa. The Versa will use a Siemens drive system with a Mercedes-Benz engine which will also be offered on the Solo as a compliment to the current Enova Systems hybrid system. Optare states that a flywheel based mechanical hybrid is also in the works. The year long project, funded by a grant from the Technology Strategy Board, has Optare working with undisclosed partners.
Information relayed to the driver and garage also aid in achieving environtmental friendliness and fuel economy. Poor or unsafe driving behaviour and vehicle wear and fuel use can be monitored, and if need be, action for improvement can be taken. Another information system is the new Eco Drive Dashboard which aids the driver in a improving their eco driving skills trhough simple display. Information from the driveline units, instruments and controls, and the electronic engine management unit is processed into information for the driver. This arrangement will be available ona ll integra vehicle from Optare by the end of 2009, and can be retrofitted into Euro 3, Euro 4, and Euro 5 Solos, Versas, and Tempos. The will also be the option to store the information for later download and have the information transmistted to the garage for realtime interpretation.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Optare History, buszone.co.uk, retrieved on 08-12-12
- ↑ Darwen takes over Optare - confirmed, busandcoach.com retrieved on 08-12-12
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Optare plc formed as takeover complete, busandcoach.com retrieved on 08-12-12
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Optare Eco Drive offers operators choice of eco-friendly solutions, s261370817.websitehome.co.uk, retrieved on 2009-09-23
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Optare Eco Drive dashboard helps drivers be more fuel efficient, s261370817.websitehome.co.uk, retrieved on 2009-09-27