DesignLine International Holdings, LLC is a bus, coach, and trolleybus manufacturer founded in Ashburton, New Zealand in 1985. Initially it was a manufacturer of tour coaches, later it diversified into city buses in the early 1990s, and then to hybrid city buses in the late 1990s. It was acquired by American interests in 2006, and DesignLine International's headquarters was relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina in the United States. It has plants in both Charlotte and New Zealand.
Designline is now best known for its hybrid buses, running on battery power and with a small gas turbine engine and generator to keep the battery charged. The turbines are supplied by Capstone Turbine of Chatsworth, California. Originally designed as a response to the international tender for ecological buses to be used in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the design was rated as technically best but did not win the tender.
The Chicago Transit Authority and New York City MTA tested the DesignLine ECOSaver IV hybrid bus in 2007 (the latter ended up ordering EcoSaver IV buses; see below). Banff is now the only 100% hybrid transit fleet in North America. The DesignLine bus nearly doubles the fuel efficiency of a 40 foot bus, compared against traditional diesel vehicles.
These vehicles were introduced in 1998 on the Shuttle zero-fare inner-city bus in Christchurch, New Zealand, first as diesel hybrids, and then as gas-turbine hybrids in 2000. After trials in Japan in conjunction with The Tokyo Electric Power Company, they have found export markets in Japan (2003), Hong Kong (2003), and in Tyne and Wear, England for the QuayLink operations.
Other buses and coaches
Most of Designline's business is building conventional bus and coach bodies onto imported chassis.
Designline's Ashburton plant was the site where new trolleybuses for use in Wellington were designed and are being made. Delivery of the trolleybuses started in 2007 and it was expected to take two years to fill the order for 61 vehicles.
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