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Company typePrivate
Founded1946; 78 years ago (1946)
FounderRobert Wright
HeadquartersBallymena, Northern Ireland
Key people
Jean-Marc Gales (CEO)[1]
ProductsBus and coachwork
Revenue£181 million (2017)
OwnerJo Bamford[2]
Number of employees
860 (2022)[3]
ParentBamford Bus Company
Simplified Wrightbus logo

Wrightbus[4] is a Northern Ireland-based bus manufacturer and a pioneer of the low-floor bus. The company was established in 1946 by Robert Wright and was later run by his son William Wright, until it was acquired in 2019 by British businessman Jo Bamford.


Wrightbus was founded in 1946 as Robert Wright & Son Coachbuilders.[5] In its early years it rebodied lorries. In 1978, the company released its first aluminium-structured bus bodywork.

GHA Coaches Wright Handybus bodied Dennis Dart in Wrexham in March 2009

Wright's breakthrough into the mainstream bus bodybuilding sector came in the early 1990s.[6] The Handybus was a midibus body offered on a variety of chassis but was more successful than the emerging Dennis Dart in attracting reasonably-sized orders from a variety of operators including London Buses, Go Ahead Northern, Ulsterbus and Citybus (Belfast).[7] This was followed by a move into the full-size single deck market with the Endeavour which was fitted to Dennis Javelin, Leyland Tiger and Scania K93 chassis, and enabled Wright to develop its highly successful Endurance body which competed with the Alexander Strider and Northern Counties Paladin for orders on Volvo B10B and Scania N113CRB chassis.[8][9]

Other Wright products introduced in this period included two Mercedes-Benz-based products, the O405 based Cityranger and the OH1416 based Urbanranger. The latter was launched around the time bus operators in the UK began switching to low floor chassis and consequently only attracted a handful of orders. However, Wright had become well established in the bus bodybuilding sector by then, and was able to exploit the opportunities the low-floor revolution would offer it from the mid-1990s onwards.


In 1993, the Pathfinder on low floor Dennis Lance SLF and Scania N113CRL chassis was unveiled.

Nottingham City Transport Scania L94UA in Nottingham in January 2003

The Axcess-Ultralow was introduced in 1995 and offered on the Scania L113 chassis. At this time it was selling in reasonable numbers to UK bus operators, but unlike other bodybuilders who could only offer the L113 with step-entrance bodies, Wright modified it by removing the middle section of the chassis and thus offered UK bus operators one of the first mainstream low-floor body/chassis combinations. A major customer for the Axcess-Ultralow was FirstGroup, taking approximately 240.

Next up was the Volvo B10L based Liberator introduced at the end of 1995: National Express ordered 120 in 1997.

Next came the Renown body built on the Volvo B10BLE which went on to become the standard bus of the Blazefield Group. Production was stopped when the B10BLE was replaced by the Volvo B7L on the new Wright Eclipse (now Wright Eclipse Metro), which due to its vertical rear engine wasn't popular with many operators. Nevertheless, Wright did not lose custom and many operators such as Ulsterbus switched to the incline-engined Scania L94UB, on a similar Wright Solar body. Another bodywork which resembles the current Solar/Eclipse range is the Meridian, which was bodied on the MAN A22 full low-floor single-deck chassis.

Since 2000[edit]

Lothian Buses Wright Eclipse Gemini bodied Volvo B7TL in Edinburgh in April 2010

Robert Wright & Son was restructured in 2000, with the bus building operation rebranded to Wrightbus as a part of the Wright Group. Companies formed alongside Wrightbus in the Wright Group were Expotech, handling the export of the group's technologies and international joint ventures such as Chance Coaches, and CustomCare, an aftermarket support operation servicing buses delivered by both Wrightbus and other bus manufacturers.[10]

One of the company's products is the New Routemaster London bus, introduced in February 2012 as an update of the AEC Routemaster.[11] Production ended in 2017 when the 1,000th left the production line.[12]

The first Wright Eclipse Gemini double-decker was built on the Volvo B7TL chassis in 2001. A similarly styled bus entered service with Arriva London in August 2003 as the Wright Pulsar Gemini on the VDL DB250 chassis. Large operators of Gemini-bodied buses include Arriva, FirstGroup, Go-Ahead Group, Lothian Buses and National Express. In 2016, the Wright SRM was introduced on the Volvo B5LH.[13]

Since May 2013, Wrightbus has also built its own chassis, the StreetLite single-decker and StreetDeck double decker. However, they still continue to produce bodywork for the Volvo B5TL, Volvo B5LH and Volvo B8RLE.[14][15][16]

Administration and acquisition by Jo Bamford[edit]

Between September and October 2019, Wrightbus entered administration with the suspension of 1,300 jobs at its factory.[17] At the time Deloitte was appointed as the company's administrators, Wrightbus was £60m in debt,[18] with £38.1 million owed to the Bank of Ireland.

During the six years prior to Wrightbus going into administration, it was reported that Jeff Wright, the owner of the company, had donated £15m to a church he had founded in 2007, Green Pastures Church.[19] This led to protests on 29 September 2019 which were joined by many of the company's former workers, including members of the Wright family.[20]

On 11 October 2019, a deal was reached in principle between Jo Bamford (son of Anthony Bamford, chairman of the construction equipment manufacturer JCB) and the Wright family for the land used by the factory, a sticking point in negotiations to sell the firm.[21][22] A deal was made with the administrators eleven days later, with Jo Bamford's Bamford Bus Company concluding a takeover of the company.[23]

Since the takeover of Wrightbus, Bamford has been committed to creating a market for hydrogen buses with a reconfigured StreetDeck that is powered by hydrogen. In 2020, Bamford said he planned to build 3,000 buses of this type by 2024.[24]

Zero emission[edit]

First Aberdeen Wright StreetDeck Hydroliner in Peterculter in July 2022

Wrightbus has followed two strategies towards achieving zero emission: creating battery-powered and fuel-cell (powered by hydrogen) vehicles. The operator Go Ahead has placed orders for fuel-cell buses for its Metrobus and Brighton & Hove fleets, and Translink in Northern Ireland made an initial order for 38 battery vehicles.[25]

Wrightbus announced in February 2023 that it was planning to build a green hydrogen production facility on its Ballymena site in partnership with Hygen Energy, capable of producing enough hydrogen to fuel up to 300 buses per day with the option to triple its production in line with future demand for the fuel.[26][27] Funding for the construction of electrolysers at the facility was secured from the first round of the UK government's £37.9 million UK Net Zero Hydrogen Fund in March 2023.[28][29] Wrightbus was later granted up to £534,000 million in funding from the UK government-sponsored Advanced Propulsion Centre fund in September 2023 to develop a driveline for a hydrogen fuel cell-powered coach, which will be intended as a functional "technology demonstrator".[30]


KMB Wrightbuses in Hong Kong
KMB Wrightbuses in Hong Kong

In 1997, an order for 25 Wright Crusader-bodied Dennis Darts was delivered to Australian operator ACTION. Between 2003 and 2006, Hong Kong operator Kowloon Motor Bus received a total of 164 Wrightbus three-axle double-deckers; 100 of them were on Volvo Super Olympian and 64 of them were on Volvo B9TL chassis. In 2009, Kowloon Motor Bus had ordered a total of 291 buses, including one demonstrator with two-axle, and all buses were in service in 2012. In 2010, the first of 450 Wright Eclipse Gemini 2-bodied Volvo B9TLs was delivered to SBS Transit, Singapore till end 2012.[31]

B8L chassis in Singapore
B8L chassis in Singapore

In 2011, Wrightbus International was established. A contract was awarded by SBS Transit for 565 Wright Eclipse Gemini 2 bodied Volvo B9TLs and delivered since January 2013 till June 2015.[32][33] In November 2012, a contract for 50 Wright Eclipse Gemini 2 bodied Volvos was awarded by Kowloon Motor Bus. These were sent in knock-down kit (ckd) form from Northern Ireland and assembled in China and followed by another 85, including two 12.8-metre-long demonstrators.[34][35] In September 2013, Wrightbus entered into a partnership with Daimler Buses to manufacture buses in Chennai, India.[36][37]

In March 2014, orders were secured from Hong Kong operators Citybus and New World First Bus for 51 Volvo B9TLs. These are being sent in CKD form from Northern Ireland and assembled in Malaysia.[38][39][40] In July 2014, SBS Transit ordered a further 415 Eclipse Gemini 2-bodied Volvo B9TLs which will be delivered from August 2015 till 2017,[needs update] increasing the total to 1,430 by 2017.[31][41]


Current models[edit]

Name Chassis Decks Notes
GB Hawk Integral 1 Diesel propulsion only
GB Kite Integral 1 Electric or hydrogen propulsion only.
Gemini 3 Volvo B5TL, B5LH, B8L 2 Bodywork on Volvo chassis; Volvo B5LH is a hybrid propulsion chassis
StreetDeck Integral 2
StreetLite Integral 1 Available in DF (door-forward, door is in part of the bus extending in front of front wheels) or WF (wheel-forward, wheels are right at the front and door is behind them).


Single deck[edit]

Wright Cityranger bodied Mercedes-Benz O405 at Shudehill Interchange, Manchester in July 2007
The Wrightbus Streetcar, used on the Las Vegas Strip and Downtown Express (SDX) route
Name Chassis Notes
Axcess-Floline Scania L94UB
Axcess-Ultralow Scania L113CRL
Cadet DAF/VDL SB120 Also sold as the Volvo Merit
Cityranger Mercedes-Benz O405
Commander DAF/VDL SB200
Consort Leyland 9-13R Roadrunner Possibly bodied other chassis
Contour Bedford Y-Series Possibly bodied other chassis. Coach Body
Crusader Dennis Dart SLF, Volvo B6LE Crusader 2 was only available on Volvo B6LE
Eclipse Metro Volvo B7L
Eclipse Urban, 2 and 3 Volvo B8RLE Replaced by the Wright GB Hawk and Wright GB Kite.
Eclipse Fusion Volvo B7LA Articulated bus
Eclipse Commuter Volvo B7RLE
Eclipse SchoolRun Volvo B7R
Endeavour Leyland Tiger, Scania K93
Electrocity DAF/VDL SB120 Hybrid bus
Endurance Volvo B10B, Scania N113CRB
Fusion Volvo B10LA
Handybus Dennis Dart, Leyland Swift
Liberator Volvo B10L
Meridian MAN A22
Nimbus Mercedes-Benz T2, Renault S75 Minibus
Pathfinder Dennis Lance SLF, Scania N113CRL
Pulsar VDL SB200 Was available in HEV form.
Renown Volvo B10BLE
Royale Leyland Leopard
Solar Scania L94UB
Solar Fusion Scania L94UA Articulated bus
TT Bedford chassis
StreetAir Integral Fully electric-powered midibus, can be DF (door-forward, chassis based on StreetDeck)
or WF (wheel-forward, based on StreetLite)
StreetCar Volvo B7LA, Hess Articulated bus
StreetVibe Integral A shorter and narrower version of the StreetLite launched in 2014 to compete with the Optare Solo SR Slimline (wheel-forward)
Urbanranger Mercedes-Benz OH141

Double deck[edit]

Metroline New Routemaster at Notting Hill on route 390 in December 2013
Name Chassis Notes
Eclipse Gemini Volvo B7TL, two-axle B9TL & B5LH
Eclipse Gemini 2 Volvo B9TL, B8L, B5LH Production for two-axle version ceased in 2013/2014.
Explorer Volvo Super Olympian
Gemini 2 Integral with VDL modules Comes in the DL & HEV variants
Pulsar Gemini DAF/VDL DB250
Pulsar Gemini HEV VDL DB250 Hybrid
New Routemaster Integral Produced exclusively for TfL between 2012 and 2017. Hybrid bus.
SRM Volvo B5LH A more basic spin-off of the New Routemaster, with fewer distinctive features


  1. ^ Halford, Paul (27 April 2023). "Wrightbus names Jean-Marc Gales as new CEO". routeone. Retrieved 27 April 2023.
  2. ^ Deeney, Niall. "Wrightbus contract 'signed and completed'". News Letter. News Letter. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  3. ^ "Wrightbus owner Jo Bamford says coming to NI is revelation". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 1 February 2020 – via BBC News.
  4. ^ Companies House extract company no NI006119 Wrightbus Limited formerly Robert Wright & Son (Coachworks) Limited
  5. ^ Wright on Course Commercial Motor 7 November 1991
  6. ^ Robert Wright is to diversify Commercial Motor 1 August 1991
  7. ^ Wright midi boosts jobs Commercial Motor 1 November 1990
  8. ^ Wright choice for YT Commercial Motor 16 April 1992
  9. ^ Wright launches intercity coach Commercial Motor 28 May 1992
  10. ^ "New structure for Wright". Bus & Coach Professional. August 2000. Archived from the original on 15 October 2000. Retrieved 6 December 2023.
  11. ^ New Routemaster bus starts running on London roads BBC News February 2012
  12. ^ London Routemaster Buses: Wrightbus set to get order worth £60m BBC News 3 February 2016
  13. ^ London launch for new Wrightbus SRM on Volvo B5LH Archived copy Bus & Coach Professional 18 March 2016
  14. ^ More jobs at Wrightbus as orders flow in Archived 12 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine Bus & Coach Professional
  15. ^ Innovation win for Wrightbus Ballymena Times 19 June 2007
  16. ^ StreetDeck - The Complete Double Deck Bus from Wrightbus Archived 6 November 2014 at the Wayback Machine Wrightbus 24 October 2014
  17. ^ Campbell, John (25 September 2019). "Wrightbus administrators confirm 1,200 job losses" – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  18. ^ McDonald, Gary (29 November 2019). "Wrightbus owes £60m say administrators - and creditors may get nothing". The Irish News. Retrieved 4 February 2021.
  19. ^ "Wrightbus: Who is Jeff Wright founder of Green Pastures?". BBC News. 10 October 2019. Retrieved 4 February 2021.
  20. ^ "Wrightbus: Protest at Green Pastures Church over donations". BBC News. 29 September 2019. Retrieved 4 February 2021.
  21. ^ "Deal reached 'in principle' for Wrightbus sale". BBC News Northern Ireland. Archived from the original on 11 October 2019. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  22. ^ McDonald, Gary (12 October 2019). "As JCB heir's son takes Wrightbus reins, how many jobs can be saved?". The Irish News.
  23. ^ "New Wrightbus owner to recruit within weeks". BBC News. BBC News. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  24. ^ Mario (6 October 2020). "Wrightbus hydrogen double decker bus is ready for Birmingham". Sustainable Bus. Retrieved 4 February 2021.
  25. ^ McAllen, Ryan (5 November 2021). "Wrightbus secures new hydrogen bus order from GB transport group". The Irish News. Retrieved 27 February 2022.
  26. ^ Campbell, John (13 February 2023). "Ballymena: Wrightbus to develop hydrogen production facility". BBC News. Retrieved 1 April 2023.
  27. ^ "Wrightbus building new hydrogen production base in Ballymena". Belfast Telegraph. 13 February 2023. Retrieved 1 April 2023.
  28. ^ Campbell, John (31 March 2023). "NI green hydrogen projects win government grants". BBC News. Retrieved 1 April 2023.
  29. ^ Halford, Paul (31 March 2023). "Wrightbus hydrogen facility gains government funding". routeone. Retrieved 1 April 2023.
  30. ^ "Hydrogen fuel cell-electric coach driveline coming from Wrightbus". routeone. 8 September 2023. Retrieved 8 September 2023.
  31. ^ a b "SBS Transit orders 415 more Geminis" Buses issue 714 September 2014 page 19
  32. ^ SBS Transit to add 1,000 More Buses SBS Transit 9 July 2012
  33. ^ Doing the Wright thing in Asia Archived 6 November 2014 at the Wayback Machine Wrightbus 21 November 2012
  34. ^ Wrighbus wins Hong Kong bus order BBC News 12 November 2012
  35. ^ Wrighbus celebrates its first Chinese order Belfast Telegraph 13 November 2012
  36. ^ Wrightbus move into India can increase jobs at home Irish News 9 July 2013
  37. ^ Daimler and Wrighbus Indian partnership Bus & Coach Professional 4 September 2013
  38. ^ Ballymena's Wrightbus to build flat-pack buses for Hong Kong Belfast Telegraph 6 March 2014
  39. ^ Wrightbus to assemble in Malaysia Archived 9 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine Bus & Coach Professional 6 March 2014
  40. ^ Double First for Wrightbus International in Asia Pacific Archived 6 November 2014 at the Wayback Machine Wrighbus 4 March 2014
  41. ^ SBS Transit to add 665 More Buses SBS Transit 1 July 2014

External links[edit]