Iveco Daily sets out to explore the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBG Kew) has taken delivery of one of the most specialised Iveco Daily light commercials operating anywhere in the UK.
Named the ‘Explorer II’, it is designed to operate in conjunction with a train of three 24-person carriages and enables visitors to get an excellent overall introduction to the 326 acres which comprise RBG Kew. Operating on a route around the Gardens which lasts approximately 40 minutes, the Explorer II, a partner to the Explorer I vehicle, makes eight stops close to buildings and areas of interest, allowing Explorer ticket holders to get on and off unlimited times throughout the day.
Supplied by Iveco dealer Hendy Van & Truck, the vehicle began as a regular Daily 35C12 AGile chassis cab before being converted by Electromec Services, which is based close to Hendy’s dealership in Southampton. The modifications saw the wheelbase shortened to 2.2m and the rear axle replaced with an FPW double reduction axle offering a 10:1 ratio. The new specification also includes a two line air brake circuit for the carriages plus an air handbrake system which operates a spring brake on the tractor and all carriages, sufficient to hold the full 15 tonne gross vehicle weight.
Built to operate solely around RBG Kew, the Daily’s wheel sensors have been re-engineered to ensure the automated gearbox operates within the low speed parameters required. This enables the Explorer II to reach a cruising speed of 12mph in fourth gear at 2,000 revs, although maximum speed within the Gardens rarely exceeds 4mph, with the 2.3 litre HPI engine delivering up to 116 hp and guaranteeing a smooth and comfortable ride for both driver and passengers. The cab also features a PA system with 100v line connections to the trailer speakers, enabling the driver to provide a commentary on the history and work of RBG Kew, especially in relation to science, education and conservation.
Mary Done, Kew Explorer Manager, at RBG Kew, says: “The Kew Explorer service has been running for ten years and one of our lead units was coming up for renewal. We approached Electromec Services who recommended the Iveco for this application, having completed a similar project in recent years where the Daily has excelled.
“The Explorer II can accommodate up to 72 passengers, including space for pushchairs and a wheelchair, and operates 363 days a year. In addition to the daily public tours, it is also used on special tours for weddings, corporate clients, schools, and to assist special needs visitors in enjoying the full scope of the Gardens,” she adds.
The new vehicle joins a similar Daily in service in the UK, which has been operating at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford since 2005.
Martin Flach, Product Director at Iveco adds: “There are very few light commercial vehicles on the market which are suitable for this type of specialist application, but the Iveco Daily is one of them. The versatility and robustness of the chassis makes it ideal for conversion, whilst the new AGile automated gearbox removes the need to fit a heavy-duty aftermarket transmission.”
RBG Kew began life in 1759 when Princess Augusta, mother of King George III, started an ambitious nine-acre garden around Kew Palace. Every generation has added to the charms and curiosities of Kew, which is now a major international visitor attraction boasting over 300 acres of landscaped gardens and attracting over one million visitors per year.
Kew is also a UNESCO-inscribed World Heritage Site and celebrates its 250th anniversary this year. Its mission is to inspire and deliver science-based plant conservation worldwide, enhancing the quality of life, and houses over 40 listed buildings and other structures including the Palm House, Temperate House, Orangery and Pagoda as well as two ancient monuments, Queen Charlotte's Cottage and Kew Palace.
RBG Kew is a world famous scientific organisation, internationally respected for its outstanding living collection of plants and world-class herbarium as well as its scientific expertise in plant diversity, conservation and sustainable development in the UK and around the world. For more information visit www.kew.org