Wrightbus has scooped a £30m deal to add to its growing order book from one of the biggest public transport companies in the UK.
FirstGroup, a long-time customer of the Ballymena company, has ordered 179 of its lightweight Streetlite buses and will provide bodies for a further 37 buses ordered through Volvo.
The deal is the latest in a string of contract wins for Wrightbus which has already supplied FirstGroup with double deckers for the London Olympics along with 600 hybrid buses to Transport for London.
It's also taken a string of orders from transport companies in the likes of Hong Kong and Singapore for its flatpack double deckers, which are exported as parts and assembled on site at their final destination.
The Streetlite range, which FirstGroup has ordered, was developed with research and development support from Invest Northern Ireland, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund under the Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland. "Wrightbus is thrilled to be awarded this substantial order from FirstGroup," Wright Group managing director Mark Nodder said.
"It is a huge endorsement of the development of our StreetLite range of lightweight buses, which proved themselves best in class in every category at fuel trials conducted at Millbrook Proving Grounds under the close scrutiny of FirstGroup's engineers."
The Wrightbus order is part of a contract for 464 new vehicles agreed yesterday, worth £76m.
Along with Wrightbus's 179 vehicle order, Falkirk-based Alexander Dennis Limited will supply 222 vehicles while Volvo Group UK will supply 37 buses. While Volvo will supply the chassis and engine for the latter order, Wrightbus will supply the bodywork.
Giles Fearnley, boss of First UK Bus, said he was delighted that First continues to support UK bus manufacturers.
"Our manufacturing partners continue to lead the world in terms of quality and value for money. I'm pleased that our tradition of supporting the British transport industry remains strong," he said.
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said Wrightbus was proving to be one of Northern Ireland's most innovative companies.