Buses DESIGN LINE North Carolina U.S.A. and rest off the World

01DesignLine Corporation

DesignLine Corporation




Bus manufacturing




John Turton

Number of locations

Charlotte, North Carolina, United States

Area served

North America

Key people

  • Joseph Smith, CEO
  • Steve Justice, Sales




DesignLine Corporation is a manufacturer of coach, electric and range-extended electric (hybrid) buses founded in Ashburton, New Zealand in 1985. Initially it was a manufacturer of tour coaches. In the 1990s it diversified into conventional transit buses and then added hybrid city buses in the late 1990s. It was acquired by American interests in 2006, and DesignLine Corporations’ headquarters was relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina.

DesignLine Corporation is no longer affiliated with the DesignLine operations in New Zealand, which was placed in liquidation in 2011 and has since been sold to a Malaysian-controlled joint business venture who operate it under the name DesignLine Bus Pacific.



Joseph Smith became President and CEO of DesignLine in 2012 following a reorganization of the board and management. Smith is a bus industry veteran and the former President of the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority Bus Company. He first interacted with DesignLine while at MTA and became interested in the company’s technology. After the company was recapitalized in early 2012, Smith was installed as President and CEO to move the company forward and maximize its technological capabilities.

DesignLine has recently hired Steve Justice to serve as head of company sales efforts. Justice is a 39-year veteran of the bus industry having worked for Allison Transmission and Detroit Diesel Allison.

Hybrid vehicle

One key component of the DesignLine fleet is its range-extended electric bus (hybrid), the EcoSaver. The bus is a plug-in battery powered electric vehicle. As battery power is depleted, an on-board diesel or compressed natural gas (CNG) turbine engine engages. Unlike other hybrid buses, the on-board engine does not run vehicle systems as the battery depletes. Rather the turbine produces electricity that recharges the batteries. The turbines are supplied by Capstone Turbine of Chatsworth, California.

03 Capstone Turbine Corp GasTurbine

Capstone Turbine Corp GasTurbine

The bus was originally designed as a response to the international tender for ecological buses to be used in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. While the design was rated as technically best[citation needed] it did not win the tender. This first-of-its-kind technology has been deployed in a number of fleets as the process has been tested and improved. Recent testing at the Bus Testing and Research Center at Penn State University show a substantial improvement in fuel economy over traditional buses. The EcoSaver will also be included as part of a national research effort coordinated by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) to yield performance data on clean fuel vehicles.

Numerous demonstration fleets of EcoSaver vehicles have been deployed worldwide since 1998. The DesignLine electric drive system has undergone several major development cycles, with the fourth generation North American system now in production.

Electric vehicle


DesignLine’s EcoSmart is an all-electric bus powered by sodium batteries, and based on the established EcoSaver drive train system. The bus is 100% emissions free. The bus plugs in to recharge, and captures energy from regenerative braking technology. The bus does not need proprietary charging infrastructure. Simple industrial grade electrical access is all that is required. The buses can travel more than 100 miles between charges.

The EcoSmart is in service internationally in Australia and Abu Dhabi UAE. The Société de Transport de Laval in Quebec, Canada is currently testing the EcoSmart for use in its fleet.

Coach vehicle

DesignLine’s EcoCoach is a high floor, single door bus powered by either compressed natural gas (CNG) or diesel fuel. The bus is built on a lightweight frame that lowers overall vehicle weight and improves fuel economy. The bus is designed for long routes with infrequent stops, such as intercity routes, or limited access transit routes (i.e. Park and Ride). DesignLine has a contract with New Jersey Transit to supply the agency with 76 EcoCoach buses by May 2013.

The EcoCoach is also the first 45 foot CNG coach to complete testing at the Altoona Bus Testing and Research Center.


DesignLine markets the following buses:

02 Electric V Uptown

DesignLine Electric Bus

  • The EcoSmart bus produces no emissions, operates for a full shift without direct recharging and captures energy traditionally lost during braking, returning it to the batteries.
  • No proprietary charging infrastructure is required.
  • EcoSmart can be produced in 30, 35 and 42 foot versions.
  • All accessories are electrically driven, reducing energy losses and increasing reliability.


04 DesignLine Corporation REEV Right side Photo

DesginLine REEV bus

  • The EcoSaver uses the electric vehicle drive system with additional range capabilities provided by a unique-in-class, on-board micro-turbine generator. The 65 kW micro-turbine allows for battery recharge as energy cells are depleted during the shift. This results in the ability to sustain battery operation continuously.
  • It successfully completed third party “shaker table” testing with only minor issues evident after 500,000 simulated miles.
  • Unlike some hybrid bus systems that include an internal combustion engine that rely on conventional operation as battery capacity is depleted, the on-board turbine simply recharges the batteries, making all systems on the EcoSaver all electric at all times.
  • The micro-turbine is powered by CNG or diesel (and requires no Urea, after treatment, or expensive exhaust system).
  • The bus has no engine, no transmission, or engine oil which results in less maintenance and reduced cost of operation. The micro-turbine has only a single moving part.
  • The EcoSaver is CARB 2010 compliant and meets 2014 CARB emissions levels.

05 DesignLine EcoCoach


06 DesignLine EcoSaver IV (2009)

DesignLine EcoCoach bus

  • The DesignLine coach is a high floor, single door bus powered by either compressed natural gas (CNG) or diesel fuel.
  • The frame is an innovative design using a stainless steel chassis and aluminum body that reduces overall vehicle weight and adds to improved fuel efficiency.
  • It features cutting-edge cooling technology from EMP that allows for superior performance with less maintenance and less power usage, thereby improving fuel efficiency.
  • The bus is Altoona tested (45 foot CNG version)



Currently, Designline buses are used in revenue service in 13 cities in five countries worldwide, with five more cities in the United States planning to introduce them in the near future.

United States

Future operators

New Zealand




Other countries

  • Tokyo, Japan
  • Newcastle-upon-Tyne, United Kingdom
    • Stagecoach – one Olymbus diesel-electric bus was evaluated in 2004, this bus became one of ten Olymbus buses for QuayLink bus service in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Gateshead and they were operated from 22 July 2005 until being replaced by Optare Versa from 10 August 2010. This was due to difficulty coping with hills on the route.

External links

DesignLine USA


DesignLine EcoSaver IV (2009)


DesignLine Hybrid plus


DesignLine Hybrid


Designline all electric bus


Designline MAN Schoolbus-truck


Designline Trolleybus Wellington NZ














designline-city-bus-trolley-05 2003


Designline 2010-07-09 newmallshuttle


ISUZU Designline 500 AMT 44 seater New Zealand


Quaylink bus 61006 Designline Olymbus NX05 PXL in Newcastle 9 May 2009







Author: Jeroen

In Dutch, my homelanguage: Ik ben Jeroen, tot januari 2015 was ik al dik 26 jaar werkzaam in een psychiatrisch ziekenhuis in een stad vlakbij Werelds grootste havenstad Rotterdam. Eerst als verpleegkundige/begeleider op high care, later op afdeling dubbeldiagnose (verslavingen) en ook nog een tijdje als administratief medewerker. Ik heb een spierziekte "Poli Myositis" (alle spieren zijn ontstoken) daardoor weinig energie. Sinds augustus 2015 is daarbij de diagnose Kanker gesteld, en ben ik helemaal arbeidsongeschikt geworden en zit middenin de behandelfase. Gelukkig ben ik daarnaast getrouwd, vader, en opa, en heb de nodige hobby's. Een daarvan is transportmiddelen verzamelen en daarmee een blog schrijven. Dit blog begon met bussen, maar nu komen ook sleepboten, auto's trucks en dergelijke aan bod. Kijk en geniet met me mee, reageer, en vul gerust aan. Fouten zal ik ook graag verbeteren. In English: I'm Jeroen, till januari 2015 I was already 26 years working as a nurse in a psychiatric hospital, near Rotterdam, Worlds biggest harbour with more than 98 nationalities living within it's borders. First I worked on closed high care ward and the last years on a ward with mainly addicted people. I liked my work very much. In 2007 I got ill. I got the diagnose Poli Myositis, a musscle dissease. Al my mussles are inflamed. And last august I got another diagnose. Cancer. It's plaveicelcel carcinoma and treated with Chemo and radioation. So I've even less energy than the last years. Still I try to make something of my life and the blog is helping with surviving with some pleasure.

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