All aboard! London welcomes its newest double-decker powerhouse to its quintessential fleet of buses. Wrightbus, a Northern Ireland-based vehicle manufacturer, chose Gurit for the New Bus for London – NBfL – project for the design and supply of the structurally loaded rear-end composite body panels.

The buses use advanced composites to reduce weight to meet fuel efficiency targets and provide structural support for the diesel-electric hybrid drivetrain while maintaining the vehicle’s iconic styling.

CM Interviews caught up with Joe Summers, director of business development, engineered structures, Gurit U.K., who oversaw this project. This modern fuel-efficient vehicle will closely resemble the historic star of London’s transportation, the 1960’s Routemaster.

“The London Bus is one of the most recognizable images in the world and is part of the British ‘brand.’ To have played even a small part in its development gives us all a great deal of pride,” says Summers.

What is your involvement with the New Bus for London project and what was your edge that won the product?

Gurit supplied the composite “rear-end” of the bus, essentially the majority of the structure behind the rear axle. This consists of five parts including the hop on/hop off platform, rear bumper, as well as the mid- and upper-dome. We were in discussion with Wrightbus for some time over the benefits that composites could bring to the vehicle. To introduce a new technology requires more of a solution approach and Gurit was able to offer engineering support, tooling, prototyping and component supply to manage the project from end to end.

What composite materials were used? Why were composites selected over more traditional products – what benefits did composites offer?

The parts are manufactured from Gurit’s SPRINT® ST70FR and Corecell M-Foam. These materials allowed the components to form part of the load bearing structure of the vehicle with passengers and engine loads being taken through the composite into the metal structure. The use of composites over metal provided a considerable weight saving contributing to the overall vehicle targets for fuel efficiency and passenger numbers.

What challenges did you encounter bringing a new material to such an iconic vehicle?

There were initially some concerns with the ability for repairs, fire resistance and how to connect the composite parts to the rest of the structure. Gurit was able to address these issues through having broad experience in many markets including marine, automotive, and aerospace and recommend suitable materials and design to answer each issue with a practical and appropriate solution.