Mellor Coachcraft's model range revision has continued with a complete redesign of its low-floor Tucana, the Tucana II, with a whole suite of major design changes.
The Tucana II has been completely re-engineered for Volkswagen's acclaimed T6 base vehicle, and is a re-imagining of the original concept. The front has been redesigned with new CAD-designed mouldings to complement the T6 styling, added to this new interior mouldings have modernised the driver and passenger areas.
Like its predecessor, the saloon - which has a flat floor throughout – is capable of having 15 passenger seat positions but can now carry up to four wheelchairs without need for a passenger lift. Wheelchairs can be loaded through the front or rear doors via ramps, thanks to the class-leading 270mm floor height.
The Tucana II has the same, wide powered sliding door as fitted to the recently-launched Strata , offering a much closer kerbside approach than the swing-out plug doors they replace. The vehicle can have rear doors and a bi-fold ramp or a coach back, and Mellor says it can have destination equipment and ticket platform for use in fare-stage work.
“The original Tucana was designed in 2004 and exhibited at the CTA show at G-MEX in 2005,” says Mellor General Manager John Randerson. “It was very successful, selling 600 vehicles. The arrival of the Volkwagen T6 necessitated a redesign, so our engineering team at the Scarborough facility has taken the opportunity to completely revise Tucana from the floor upwards.
“Once again, our efforts have been directed into creating a cost-effective, reliable low-floor minibus which we believe provides passengers with an environment that is best in class.”
An approved Volkswagen coachbuilder, Mellor has retained only the Volkswagen front wheel drive system, dashboard and rear braking components. The body frame is a lattice structure in stainless steel, with aluminium side panels but GRP mouldings elsewhere. The bespoke trailing-arm suspension at the rear now being coil-sprung, as are the front axles. Air suspension for the rear trailing arms to lower the rear step height further is also an option.
“The previous version of the Tucana was extremely popular however the plug doors could be problematic in service these have now been replaced with the Ventura sliding door which is now common across our range. It brings the added advantage of requiring almost no kerb gap to operate, so is less susceptible to damage and allows easier passenger boarding,” “The changes have also improved the view to the wing mirrors through the fitment of larger front quarter lights,” said John.
The interior has new mouldings which reduce the need for soft trim: “This replaces aluminium and soft-trim, and is precision-made, so is a perfect fit first time. The layout in the first production sample incorporates a new space-saving tip-and-fold seat, jointly designed by Mellor and Rescroft of Redditch, but the tracked fully-flat floor – like all other Mellor low-floor buses – is made from rot-free composite instead of plywood – this can be configured to suit the customer. Seating can be from Rescroft, Phoenix or Kiel Ligero bus seats.
The rear ramp is again the Portaramp design seen on other Mellor models: “We have built good relationships with a stable supply chain,” says John. “This ensures we have excellent partnerships that enable us to improve our products, these partnerships lead to exemplary product knowledge and spares supply.” Heating and ventilation can be configured in a variety of patterns with units supplied by Eberspacher and Webasto, with roof-mounted air conditioning up to 12kW in capacity.
“The Tucana II has a level of robustness which makes it more than adequate for most applications including some light stage carriage activity,” said John. “Though fare-stage service isn't its target market, this design and build quality will deliver the benefits of affordability, low fuel cost and all-round reliability for any operator.
“The Volkswagen T6 Transporter has been voted International Van of the Year 2016 for good reason. As the base vehicle for the Tucana II, it now offers passenger vehicle operators those same benefits.”