Wrightbus eyes European expansion with new chief commercial officer appointment

Leading UK bus manufacturer Wrightbus has set its sights on expansion across Germany, Italy, Frace, Spain and beyond with the appointment of a new European chief commercial officer.

By Claire Cartmill
Wednesday, 27th April 2022, 10:10 am

The Ballymena-based company - which was responsible for producing the world’s first hydrogen double deck bus, the Hydroliner - has bought Jean-Luc Deflandre on board.

Mr Deflandre brings more than 15 years of experience working in the European electric and hydrogen bus market. His appointment signals the growing ambition of Wrightbus, less than two years since launching the Hydroliner and less than three years since the company was bought out of administration by leading green entrepreneur, Jo Bamford .

Jean-Luc is a former Advisor to the Board of BYD, former chief commercial officer of Ebusco and speaks four languages - French, Dutch, German and English. He is the founder and owner of a consulting company and guest speaker at the World Economic Forum and Energy Tech Summit.

Jean-Luc Deflandrethe new European chief commercial officer

He said: “I am delighted and excited to be joining Wrightbus at an incredibly important period for the company and for passenger transport as a whole. Wrightbus is leading the way in zero-emissions vehicles in this field and I am eager to bring my experience to bear across mainland Europe.

“I’m already in high level discussions in several major European cities who are keen to have the very best zero emission buses on their streets.”

Wrightbus has big ambitions for Europe with the development of left-hand drive hydrogen-fuelled vehicles already under way. This year the company will double output at its factory in Northern Ireland, as well as increasing production of zero emissions electric and hydrogen buses to around 70 per cent of its total output - up from just 30% last year.

Buta Atwal, Wrightbus CEO, explained: “We are delighted to welcome Jean-Luc to our team to support our ambitions not only to decarbonise public transport across the UK and Ireland, but around the world.

“Working at scale, Wrightbus has a clear plan in place to reduce the costs of the buses to be comparable to diesel for the total cost of ownership. We believe that zero-emission buses, manufactured in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, can and should be used and powered across the world.

“We already have a strong network of suppliers across Europe and we’re looking forward to building an equally strong customer base for our world-class buses.”

Wrightbus has a proud 75 year history of manufacturing buses, but when it was bought out of administration by green entrepreneur Jo Bamford in October 2019, only 56 staff remained in the business.

Just over two years on, and largely thanks to its new zero emission products, Wrightbus is now on track to employ more than 900 staff this year once its latest recruitment drive is complete.

Thanks to a flurry of orders, the company is doubling production compared to 2021, and will see a significant switch in output from 70 per cent diesel buses in 2021 to around 70 per cent zero-emission buses in 2022.

Wrightbus currently has the largest fleet of hydrogen buses in Europe and second largest in the world, with 90 in operation across the UK and Ireland.

Zero-emission hydrogen buses produced by Wrightbus have almost travelled an incredible 1 million miles since first entering passenger service in 2021 - the equivalent of driving around the world 40 times.

The reduction in emissions is the equivalent of taking almost 400 cars off the roads for a whole year.

The Wrightbus Streetdeck Hydroliner was launched in Aberdeen in 2020, with the fleet entering passenger service in January 2021. The Hydroliner bus emits only water from its tailpipe, with no harmful emissions.

In addition to the Aberdeen fleet, the company’s zero emission hydrogen buses are currently in operation in London, Birmingham, Dublin and Belfast, with several other towns and cities looking to introduce them to improve local air quality.