Post by vjaska on Sept 25, 2019 16:24:49 GMT
I see there is some discussion in a NBFL thread but it deserves a dedicated thread of its own.
Ian Paisley Jr says it is likely the firm will go into administration today after failing to strike a deal with Weichai and latterly industrialist Darren Donnelly:
With the benefit of hindsight Mark Nodder's retirement back in April was very well timed...!
The original Gemini was a ground breaking product that took a lot of sales away from then market leader combo ALX400/President and thrusted Wright into the limelight having only previously been a small player with the Dart based Handybus and the Crusader. Back then the Nokia phone type-styling made the existing products on the market look dated and the build quality was second to none although I gather it had issues with being much heavier than its competitors - probably due to over-engineering caused by it being their first foray into the double deck market and Wright's keenness to get it correct first time round. The Gemini body was available on several chassis and was a sales hit for many years. There were blink-and-you'll-miss-it facelifts and refinements over the years but it did keep selling in significant numbers.
Fast forward today and where did it go wrong?
- Was it their decision to copy ADL and Optare and shift focus towards integrals?
- I have heard that the Streetdeck has had a lot of quality issues. Certainly the styling was controversial and it was quickly modified for some buyers with glass wrapped upper pillars. The Streetlite doesn't seem to have much love out their among bus enthusiasts and again there are anecdotal stories of poor reliability and build quality.
- Was there an over reliance on the NBFL contract a lack of a plan to deal with the end of the contract and what to do with the excess capacity and loss of revenue.
- Were they too dependent on the UK market and a small part of Asia? ADL have made significant inroads into USA/Canada market with the E500 and lately Europe (Berlin and Switzerland), South America (Mexico), New Zealand and Singapore. I vaguely recall somewhere that exports account for about 50% of ADL's revenue lessening their reliance on the slow UK market.
What happens now? I'm guessing a Chinese buyer will swoop in and buy up the tooling, designs and intellectual property. They might keep a small work force there to assemble knock down kits sent from China and perhaps keep a small R&D team to pursue new technologies. There is past form with LDV vans, LTI and MG Rover Group. Why take on a failing company with all the risks/liabilities when you can let it go bust and cherry pick the valuable bits for a fraction of the price.
Who will provide parts for the existing buses out there? Perhaps one of the aftermarket parts houses like Carlyle or Heavy Duty parts will buy up the parts stock and keep the supply going.
Will be a shame if it disappears entirely. Competition is good and I think they forced ADL to up their game and improve the quality and standards of their product. Otherwise ADL is left as the only major player with a bit-part played by Optare. There is a real chance for Optare to make some major headway especially into the London market now with the Metrodecker if Wright falls out of the equation.
It would be interesting to hear your views.
Here's my own thoughts on what went wrong:
1) I don't think switching focus to integral products was necessarily wrong but it seems it wasn't done correctly although ADL have had far longer in terms of producing integral products. Optare had a few years head start on them with relative small success but I'm doubtful Wrightbus would of looked at what they're doing.
2) The Streetlite has had many issues although many were rectified when Euro VI came in - the DF version was found to be better overall and Wrightbus eventually started offering the 9.5m in that mode (was previously WF only), the Cummins option was underpowered and was accompanied by the Daimler option which is a massive improvement (SLS on the 410 & 450 don't struggle with the steep hills around Palace & South Norwood) & the steering was improved on WF models which had untold problems on older models. I could be wrong but the Streetlite sold quite well even towards the end when the Gemini3 had stopped being ordered much earlier so probably the Streetlite has a small part to play in it. I think the Streetdeck's main issue was power under the hood - orders were still coming in for them and there was one sent out to Go North East? with a much more powerful engine so was doing better than the Gemini3
3) I think they put their eggs near enough in one basket with the NBfL contract and I think this amongst two other points is a significant factor.
4) Losing massive long term customers like Metroline & Lothian due to quality concerns over the Gemini3 has surely played it's part. Coupled with their being less new buses being ordered, that has surely contributed greatly. It says a lot when Metroline would rather order buses that are cosmetically lower quality build (MCV Evoseti) but which aren't plagued by structural issues. I also think price played it's art too as I heard rumours that it's pricing on the double deckers was putting customers off - the Streetlite in comparison had a good deal in place.
5) Continually ignoring the rise of electric buses has heavily cost them - just look at ADL & BYD partnership. Even Optare have got something going even if reliability issues have plagued the Metrocity EV - it at least shows that they're trying to head in the right direction unlike Wrightbus who were more interested in Hydrogen which hasn't seen much appetite from operators. Even Scania got something going with the BioFuel vehicles they have in operation in various parts of the UK.