We're probably beginning to diverge from the topic at hand here. And I'm not interested in another Volgren vs Customs vs Bustech (etc) debate.TA3001 wrote:What exactly has caused the rapid downfall with many modern (and mainly suburban) bus body designs in Australia?
What I will do is point out the obvious. We have State Governments who, for better or worse, chase votes through local content requirements. That's the first problem - in Australia, you're creating these isolated little pockets of manufacturing that can't necessarily produce all that efficiently*. Then you have Governments with limited budgets effectively awarding tenders for the supply of vehicles to the lowest bidder; Australia is a relatively expensive place to manufacture goods (high wages, costs associated with sourcing components not produced in Australia from distant overseas manufacturers, Government regulation) so straight away there will be some sort of tradeoff when these small, inefficient and costly manufacturers are asked to produce something "cheaply."
The result is an end product that is built to a price, rather than to a standard. There are instances where this isn't necessarily the case, but to raise a frequent topic of discussion; this is likely the reason why fully low floor vehicles, with multiple doors haven't gained traction as quickly as elsewhere. It is also why enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts alike notice fit and finish issues with even brand-new buses, crap ergonomics for the driver and other peculiar design niggles.
*I'm not suggesting manufacturing is best lost to overseas, only pointing out that small, low-scale, isolated manufacturers wouldn't be as efficient as a more centralised operation in some part of the country.
This also creates a barrier to potential competitors who have not established themselves in a particular state; if they were to setup a factory locally, winning a supply contract over a competitor could decimate the jobs of one firm in favour of another which wouldn't be a good look for the Politicians.