Yutong has celebrated a milestone for its Australian operations by delivering the 100th Yutong coach to leading Sydney charter company, North Sydney Bus Charters (NSBC) last week.

The Chinese bus maker, the one bus maker from China to have its own factory owned distributor and that has equipped it well for its entry to the Australian market which has by any measure been a success. Its biggest customer in Australia NSBC has used Yutong to create a success of its own.

This became obvious at the special ceremony staged at NSBC to celebrate the handover of the 100th Yutong.

Since ordering seven Yutongs in January 2014, NSBC has become the by far the single biggest Yutong customer in Australia.

The company is part of the NSBC Group, a successful Sydney-based business owned and operated by Scott Riley. It is now one of this country’s largest Australian-owned bus and charter coach companies.

NSBC services a number of schools on Sydney’s prestigious North Shore and across Greater Sydney with student passenger transportation foremost.

This underscores NSBC’s emphasis on safety and reliability. The company also provides charter services for corporates, clubs and sporting bodies.

While other medium to large bus companies tend to focus on the `established’ brands, NSBC has put its weight behind the world’s largest bus manufacturer almost exclusively, though there are some other makes in the fleet.

Former tennis ace and sports coach Scott Riley heard about Yutong through a friend and after extensive research into their products, decided Yutong measured up to his standards in terms of safety, running costs and purchase price.

That was about four years ago and since then, the NSBC garage has swelled with Yutongs to the point where the hundredth was delivered this month destined for charter work.

We sat down with Scott Riley asking him to expand on why he chose Yutong buses.

“Above all else, we want safety for our passengers and that means seatbelts along with vehicles designed to provide the highest possible primary safety, we want reliability and we want very secure business partners,’’ he told Coach and Bus at the 100th Yutong delivery event.

When asked about aftersales service, Mr Riley said “NSW Bus and Coach Sales does a fantastic job in that space. They are an Australian company and Jeff Morgan heads up the NSW operation providing exemplary service.’’

We asked Mr Riley how Yutong stacks up against other brands and he said “We’ve been using Yutong for three and a half years and we have been delighted. The quality of their product and their reliability led us to this 100th sale today which is a major commercial commitment and a huge endorsement for the partnership.’’

“Price is definitely a determining factor as is Cummins and Allison for their engines and transmissions. The fit outs are impressive and Yutong is the biggest bus manufacturer in China (and the world) and they are a very different product from other Chinese brands we have all seen and experienced.’’

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Scott Ridley: “We will put our full efforts behind passenger safety with an emphasis on seat belts in every bus. We will hopefully run the business well and if that happens, we would be delighted.’’

Yutong is a multi-faceted, listed company in China with interests in construction machinery, auto parts and components, real estate and other ventures along with bus manufacturing.

It produces more than 73,000 buses a year which is twice the nearest competitor and about half the total number of buses manufactured annually worldwide. They are sold in 120 countries, the majority to small operators with three or less vehicles.

Every year around the world, Yutong says its buses run 43,000,000,000 kilometres and carry 34,000,000,000 passengers. That’s a lot of bums on seats but is believable given the population of China alone.

They make a point of closely researching customer needs and implementing those requirements into their vehicles aiming for a total package to suit any given purpose.

Advanced safety technology is under development for all Yutong buses that will no doubt find its way into the NSBC fleet as it comes on stream. As of right now, every Yutong at NSBC is seat belt equipped.

In the meantime, head office is pushing E-Bus development with fully electric powertrains. This is being driven by excessive air pollution in many major Chinese cities that is measurably affecting the nation’s health.

Fully resolved E-Buses will allow Yutong to capitalise on China’s pre-eminent position as the biggest global lithium ion battery manufacturer.

Australia will no doubt get E-Buses or their equivalent in due course and probably sooner rather than later probably as inter urban route buses.

With huge resources at their disposal, Yutong could be at the forefront of electric bus production. It would be surprising if they were not.

An autonomous Yutong coach was successfully tested in China back in 2015 which could point the way to the future for some bus operations.

The general adoption of car-like advanced driver assist technology is under assessment and development at Yutong. This will include features like autonomous emergency braking, lane change assist, blind spot warning, forward collision alert and adaptive cruise control, which, when networked with accurate GPS equals autonomous driving.

The company spends three per cent of its annual profits on R&D covering safety, new powertrains, new construction materials and methods and technology.

Since its local start-up from a western Sydney office, Yutong has sent roots into Australian turf through third party sales and service operations establishing a dealer network on the way to achieving nearly 500 cumulative bus sales in 7.0m to 12.0m sizes.

The extensive range spans smaller inner city route buses through to interstate premium touring coaches complete with Cummins diesels and Allison transmissions.