100% local bus a milestone for Singapore industry

SC Neustar has a 20-year lifespan and meets Euro 6 emissions standards. Its lightweight build is said to offer better fuel savings.
SC Neustar has a 20-year lifespan and meets Euro 6 emissions standards. Its lightweight build is said to offer better fuel savings.PHOTO: SC AUTO

SC Auto rolls out bus designed and built here; prototype tested in Europe

Bus manufacturer SC Auto revved up the local automotive industry when it launched the first fully designed and built bus in Singapore yesterday.

Called SC Neustar, the vehicle marks the first time the company has built an integral bus - which refers to a vehicle where both the chassis and body are put together by a single manufacturer - although SC Auto has been building bus bodies since 1992.

This comes after home appliance maker Dyson announced in October it would have a factory manufacturing electric cars in Singapore by 2020 - the first time in more than 30 years that cars will be built in the Republic.

SC Auto managing director Rachel Lee said the firm had first invested $6 million in the research and development of the new bus four years ago. The prototype of SC Neustar, which was completed in 2015, was then sent to Europe for standards testing.

"It underwent an accelerated fatigue test on one of the world's most challenging test tracks," said Ms Lee, adding that the bus was driven across 1 million km on different road conditions in order to test its durability.

SC Neustar has a 20-year lifespan and meets Euro 6 emissions standards. Its lightweight build is also said to offer better fuel savings and to lower cost of operations.

There are 18 SC Neustar buses here, said Ms Lee, adding that many more will hit the roads in the coming months.

The new bus will be built both at SC Auto's facility in Senoko - which has been doubled to more than 18,000 sq m in anticipation of demand - as well as at a $30 million facility in Myanmar, which is expected to be ready early next year to address growing demand for buses there.

Since 2014, the firm has invested more than $60 million in the development of bus technology, as well as the expansion of its factories and to introduce greater automation into its processes.

"We continue to transform. Our research and development team will continue to develop advanced technology for environmentally friendly green buses, including hybrids and electric buses, which are in the pipeline," said Ms Lee.

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon, who attended yesterday's launch, noted that SC Auto's chairman Tan Siow Chua had grown the company from a private transport provider with a single bus in 1977, to a company offering a suite of services including manufacturing and repair, as well as fleet financing and motor insurance.

Its expansion into Myanmar, supported by Enterprise Singapore, marked the first time a foreign company had been approved to manufacture buses there, helping fly the Singapore flag high, he said.

"SC Auto's journey of transformation and growth is precisely what the Government envisions for our local enterprises as we move into the future economy," said Dr Koh.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 08, 2018, with the headline '100% local bus a milestone for Singapore industry'. Print Edition | Subscribe