Ashok Leyland Optare 'Solo' mini-bus spied testing in Chennai

What you see here in this post are yet another exclusive spy shots of a Commercial Vehicle that could be launched in India in the near future. Though the identity of this air-conditioned mini bus could not be identified for a long time, the Registration Number pasted in the windscreen 'TN 18 TC XXXX' hinted that this is an Ashok Leyland product. After that, Google gave the answers to solve the mystery. If you remember, Ashok Leyland acquired a 26% stake in the UK-based bus and coach manufacturer 'Optare' in early 2010 which is quite popular in Europe and more so in UK. This model, named 'Solo' to denote its floor being 'so low', is one of Optare's most successful models that has been in existence for 12 years and has seen more than 4000 customers.

Seen testing in stop-start Chennai city traffic, this bus was turning heads rather unusually. Though the rear end looked like any other bus in India, the badges and the logo were conspicious by their absence. In the choked traffic, all that could be inferred was that the profile and the front end of this bus are unlike anything that we have seen in India. The front end has a love-it or hate-it curved windshield and arched roof that looks aerodynamic and modern. Agreed, it also looks a little funky and weird. The ground clearance was alarmingly low and the bus was forced to carefully negotiate the crater-like bumps and potholes of the rain-ravaged Chennai roads. The closest that we would have seen something like this in Indian soil are some of the airport shuttle buses.

A striking feature of the Optare Solo was the tiny LED lights that fill up not only the main taillight clusters but also the high-mounted stop lamps at the rear and the roof-mounted pilot lamps at the front. The air-conditioned interiors along with the big and broad seats hinted that this model could be targeted at the premium segment of the market. With the Solo being available in five lengths, two widths, a host of seating configurations and a gamut of fuel saving engine options in the UK, Ashok Leyland can just leverage them to cover a wide spectrum of the Indian market. It has to be mentioned here that the overall build quality of the coach was a step ahead of the other Indian buses.

So, is Ashok Leyland stealthily planning to launch the Optare Solo in India to breach into the luxury bus segment. It could well be, but that plan has now become public. Whatever it is, as days and weeks pass by, Ashok Leyland is one company that just never ceases to amaze me.


  1. another great catch

  2. @ Above - Thanks, and yes, I have never seen a bus like this before.

  3. coming soooooooooooooooooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

  4. will be a grt success @ India... AL Rockz:)