Demand for a Hungarian electric medical bus is surging across Europe due to the coronavirus crisis, with the bus’ capacity for treating up to 12 patients inside driving sales.
The Hungarian busmaker Ikarus has proven to be an unexpected success in Western Europe, with the company’s fully electric, configurable buses being used as medical or vaccination stations, daily Magyar Hírlap writes.
Gábor Széles, president of the Ikarus group, located in Székesfehérvár incentral Hungary, told the paper that the buses originated from a dedicated development for the Hungarian Armed Forces. He said the demand for such multi-function buses first became evident in the first half of the past decade, when Europe suffered several terrorist attacks and many wounded had to be treated on-site at the same time. Later, the demand grew further when France and Spain experienced the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The first Hungarian response was that at the request of the [Hungarian] Defense Ministry we developed a new range of Ikarus buses. From the onset, the ministry wanted reconfigurable buses. Since then, we have delivered some 150 of them,” Széles said. “These buses can have their seats reconfigured to accommodate armed troops, or function as mobile command posts or host other administrative purposes. A third — and the most important function right now — is patient transport and care.”
Széles added that while an ordinary ambulance can only carry one patient at a time, these buses can accommodate up to 12 patients, which are also equipped for their care.
The medical e-bus is currently undergoing a licensing process by Hungarian authorities, but demand is already such that the company has to carefully balance its commitments.
“The production capacity is, of course, finite, and there is also a serious interest in these buses from abroad, from Western Europe, so we need to allocate our production capacity wisely,” Széles said. “We must determine the size of Hungarian healthcare orders and what is the demand from abroad. Abroad, the problem is even more acute, we see the example of containers and trains, which are fighting the same shortage of rural medical care as we do, but the demand abroad is even higher.”
“City Pioneer is Europe’s most modern bus in terms of price and performance, and Ikarus now has a chance to regain its position in the international market,” Széles said.
Title image: Ikarus mobile medical bus. (Magyar Hírlap/László Katona)