Volvo B6 series

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This article is about the rear-engined bus chassis series launched in 1991. For the front-engined chassis series built between 1976 and 1987, see Volvo B6F.
Volvo B6 series
Torquay Torbay Road Stagecoach 701 P701BTA.jpg
Preserved Alexander ALX200 bodied B6LE in Torquay in September 2011
Overview
Manufacturer Volvo
Production 1991-2001
Assembly Austria (1991-1992)
Scotland (1993-2000)
Sweden (2000-2001)
Body and chassis
Class Midibus chassis
Floor type Step deck (555 mm)
Low floor (350 mm)
Powertrain
Engine Volvo TD63, D6A
Capacity 5.5 litres
Transmission Allison/ZF 4HP500
Chronology
Successor Volvo B7RLE

The Volvo B6 series was a series of bus chassis manufactured by Volvo between 1991 and 2001, with three unfinished or unsold chassis being bodied in 2004 and 2005.

History[edit]

In the United Kingdom, the B6 competed in the midibus market with the Dennis Dart, and with the MAN 10.180/12.220 HOCL throughout Europe. When launched in 1991,[1] it was presented as being available in several different lengths; 8.5 metres (B6-36), 9.0 metres (B6-41), 9.9 metres (B6-50) and a 9.1-metre coach version (B6-45). For LHD markets it was available with a 350 mm low-entry floor, while the RHD markets had to wait until 1995 before this option became available.

Most B6s were built for the UK market, but 61 were exported to Hong Kong[2] and some to Australia. They were also sold in mainland Europe, both in bus and in coach versions. When launched in the UK, it was marketed as the B6R, but this name would later only be used in the Asia-Pacific region.

Pre-production units[edit]

Preserved Plymouth Citybus Plaxton Pointer bodied B6 in Bristol in April 2013
Timeline Travel Alexander Dash bodied B6 in Manchester
Avon Buses Wright Crusader bodied B6LE in Birkenhead in June 2009
Vest bodied B6LE delivered in October 1993, possibly being the first ever B6LE. Here in Porsgrunn in August 2007.

The initial pre-production series of around 30 (or more) chassis were manufactured by Volvo subsidiary Steyr Bus GmbH in Vienna, Austria. This would however not be the case with the production series, as Volvo moved it to Scotland.[3] Most of the pre-production units were built as coaches. It is not known if any B6LE were among these units. Only nine of these units were delivered in the United Kingdom.[4]

Volvo B6[edit]

In March 1993, production of the Volvo B6 started up at Volvo's brand new bus chassis plant in Irvine, Scotland.[5][6] The B6-50 length was instantly popular. The short-wheelbase B6-36 sold a few from the start, but customers soon chose the B6-41 instead.

The B6-45 midicoach suffered from disappointingly low sales in the UK - by 1995, when the RHD version was withdrawn from sale, only fourteen had been built. The last one being delivered to the Russian embassy in 1998, being unsold since 1995. No further RHD B6-45s were ever built. For the RHD markets also the entire B6 lineup was replaced by the B6LE in 1997, while the LHD version was replaced by the B6BLE in 1999. Between 1993 and 1997 a total of 627 B6s were delivered in the UK.[4]

The B6 were labeled as the Volvo B6R in the Asia-Pacific region.[7] In Australia, Blue Ribbon purchased five, Southtrans four and Whyalla City Transport two.[8][9][10] Citybus (Hong Kong) took delivery of one Alexander bodied B6R.[11]

Volvo B6LE[edit]

The Volvo B6LE was initially only available as LHD, but in 1995 it also became available as RHD, to compete with the Dennis Dart SLF. However, after sales proved promising, the B6LE completely replaced the B6 in some markets in 1997 before it was itself replaced by the B6BLE in 1999.

A total of 394 B6LEs were produced for the UK between 1995 and 1999; this includes two modified vehicles used as the testbed for the then-upcoming B6BLE.[4]

The B6LE were labeled as the Volvo B6RLE in the Asia-Pacific region. In Australia, Brisbane Transport purchased two B6RLE.[12] Three were purchased by National Bus Company in Brisbane.[13] Citybus (Hong Kong) took delivery of 10 Plaxton Pointer bodied B6LEs.[11]

Volvo B6BLE[edit]

The Volvo B6BLE was presented in November 1998[14] as the replacement for all B6 types. Compared to the old B6LE it had a new lower chassis frame with increased low-floor area, independent front suspension giving more than 10 cm wider gangway between the front wheel arches, and front end "kneeling", giving a 25 cm entrance height. As the replacement for the B6LE, it continued to compete with the Dennis Dart SLF.

A total of 346 known B6BLEs were produced between 1999 and 2001,[15] including two for Australia, nine for Norway and two for Sweden. When the Irvine plant was closed in 2000, production moved to Sweden. The last buses were registered as late as April 2002, but the model year on the chassis VINs reveal that they were built in 2001, waiting to be bodied.

A further B6BLE was delivered for Plaxton's Bus 2000 concept in 2004, followed by a second Bus 2000 B6BLE in 2005, but the VINs indicate that they were initially manufactured in model year 2000. A third chassis was available for the Bus 2000 project in 2005; however, it was not required, and was instead sold to New Zealand and bodied by Kiwi Bus Builders.[16] This chassis had 1999 as model year. The Kiwi B6BLE was the final B6 series bus to be bodied, fourteen years after the completion of the first chassis.

In some markets, the B6BLE was followed by short-wheelbase variants of the B7RLE.

Engines[edit]

TD63, 5478 cc, in-line 6 cyl. turbodiesel (1991-1995)

  • TD63E - 132 kW (180 bhp), 520 Nm, Euro 1
  • TD63ES - 154 kW (210 bhp), Euro 1

D6A, 5478 cc, in-line 6 cyl. turbodiesel (1995-2001)

  • D6A180 - 132 kW (180 bhp), 550 Nm, Euro 2
  • D6A210 - 154 kW (210 bhp), 700 Nm, Euro 2


References[edit]

  1. ^ Volvo unveils B6R midi Commercial Motor 17 October 1991
  2. ^ HKBEC - Citybus Volvo B6R/B6LE Gakei
  3. ^ Goodnight to Vienna for B6 Commercial Motor 15 October 1992
  4. ^ a b c Volvo B6 / B6LE (UK vehicles only) Bus Lists on the Web
  5. ^ Volvo opens bus lines in Irvine Commercial Motor 1 April 1993
  6. ^ "New models: Volvo B6" Fleetline issue 229 August 1994 page 152
  7. ^ Volvo B6 Buses and Coaches Omnibus Society of New Zealand
  8. ^ Blue Ribbon Coaches Australian Bus Fleet Lists
  9. ^ Southtrans Australian Bus Fleet Lists
  10. ^ Whyalla City Transport Australian Bus Fleet Lists
  11. ^ a b "Hong Kong Buses: Citybus Limited" Fleetline issue 248 May 1997
  12. ^ Volvo B6RLE Brisbane Transport Buses
  13. ^ CDC Group NSW - Hunter Valley Buses Australian Bus Fleet Lists
  14. ^ Enter the Volvo B6BLE - A refined version of the Volvo B6LE Volov Buses 5 November 1998
  15. ^ Volvo B6BLE Bus Lists on the Web
  16. ^ Nimon & Sons Australian Bus Fleet Lists

External links[edit]