The GT12 is set to take Yutong into a new area of the UK market, with touring work being what the high-specification will be targeted at as; two axle, 12.2m comes first followed by 12.8m and tri-axleFirst Yutong GT12 coach for the UK market was shown in China last weekYutong’s long-promised GT12 coach broke cover in right-hand drive form last week in China. The first example for the UK will be shipped soon and it is set to generate major interest when it makes its formal debut at Euro Bus Expo (EBE) on 30 October-1 November.Importer Pelican Bus and Coach has high hopes for the GT12. The first is 12.2m and has 53 seats and a centre sunken toilet to demonstrate the maximum capacity at that length. In the longer term, the 12.2m variant will be marketed as a 51-seater.To complement that, Pelican and Yutong have already discussed adding further models to the line-up. The Chinese manufacturer is working to make a 12.8m version viable within UK weight limits. A tri-axle will follow.Also on the drawing board is a slightly lower-height example. Currently the GT12 is 3.81m tall, but a 3.60m option is planned.Pelican is aiming the GT12 at the touring market. It is of a higher specification than the existing TC12, which will continue to form part of the UK landscape.However, to ensure a demarcation between the two full-size Yutongs, Sales Manager Bob Elliott adds that the TC12 will be optimised strictly as a budget coach. Changes such as a reduction in power output are among those already mooted that will allow cost to be removed.Other than length, the GT12 has little in common with the TC12. It is a completely different model that, when it arrives here, will put the Chinese offering in front of a new tranche of potential buyers. It comes with a latest-generation DAF engine coupled to ZF’s recently-unveiled EcoLife Coach automatic gearbox and – for the first time in a Yutong for the UK – axles from the same German supplier.The GT12’s retail price has already been set by Pelican: £225,000. Yutong, buoyed greatly by the smaller TC9’s runaway success in the UK, is already talking of significant sales volumes. Has the newcomer got what it takes to justify that aspiration?The detailsThe GT12 as presented last week weighs in at 13,600kg unladen. GVW in UK form is 18,500kg, but design weight is 19,500kg; the absolute maximum possible weight tolerance of both axles combined is 20,300kg. A 520-litre fuel tank is between the front wheels.The GT12 is already available in Europe; this is a 12.2m model for FranceAssembly work will take place on the dedicated line for Europe-bound coaches and buses at the larger and newer of Yutong’s two factories in Zhengzhou, where the GT12 will rub shoulders with the TC9 and TC12.Like those other two models, the GT12’s structure is subject to an extensive anti-corrosion dipping process. That has paid dividends for TC9 and TC12 owners, says Mr Elliott; Pelican is not aware of any rusting having been reported on any of those in the UK.Seats as standard are Yutong’s own. They come with three-point belts, drop-down tables, slide-apart functionality and magazine nets.USB charging points are provided for every passenger, while 240v sockets are at alternate rows. Kiel seats are an option, but they add a considerable amount to the price.A high-specification entertainment system is fitted that incorporates two monitors, while the passenger service units are of a very distinctive design. They have a large reading light and an air-conditioning vent.Positive for driversThe driver benefits from a keyless ignition, and the dashboard is made up of a large LCD screen. As a result, there are no fixed dials or gauges. Instead, the speedometer, tachometer and other readings are created virtually as required. The cab is comparable with any European coach model’s, and it is a particular strongpoint of the GT12.Externally, the first UK GT12 has manually-operated luggage locker doors and it includes an area behind the offside rear wheel for the driver’s cleaning equipment. A nearside radiator is fitted, with a tray below it to prevent accumulation of road dirt.Pelican has specified the MX-11 engine rated at 450bhp and 2,300Nm of torque. Both are high figures for a two-axle coach. routeone was unable to drive the GT12 last week, but when combined with a torque converter gearbox the likely performance is not difficult to imagine.More still to come?For obvious reasons, Pelican initially hoped to launch the GT12 in its 12.8m format. The manner in which the UK adopted revised weights for two-axle coaches has temporarily precluded that. Nevertheless, Yutong is working to take mass out of the structure to permit such a development.The cab is completely different to TC9 and TC12 and is European standard“We understand that a 12.8m, two-axle model would be popular in the UK. It is being worked on. The weight of the GT12 will be reduced,” says Europe and North America Sales Director Roger Zhou.A 12.8m GT12 is already available in other European markets; it seats up to 57 with a toilet and 59 without.“Development of the GT12 will be step-by-step and will focus on constant improvement. While we know there will be challenges in addressing weight, it is something that we must do,” adds Mr Zhou.“We have adopted the same strategy with the TC9 and many improvements have been introduced over its lifetime in the UK.”Not currently on the agenda as part of the reduction of the GT12’s mass is introduction of an automated manual gearbox.So far all of Yutong’s coaches that have been delivered to UK buyers have used the EcoLife, although if there is a shift in demand from customers towards ZF’s new Traxon product, Pelican does not rule out examining its inclusion later.There is also potential for a wheelchair lift to be fitted to the GT12, although there is currently no option for a floor-mounted rear toilet; the MX-11’s positioning would make routing plumbing to such a cubicle tricky, says Yutong.The dealer’s viewThe GT12 is a cost-effective purchase in the market segment that Pelican is targeting, but Mr Elliott explains that price is not the only reason to buy one. Support will, he says, be a further positive.“Backup is one of the things that has made the TC9 the runaway market leader in its sector, and our commitment to supporting customers will continue with the GT12.“It will be delivered from China largely to a stock specification. Operator feedback has told us that customisation is best done in the UK, but there is also scope to alter the standard layout before shipping,” he says.An order for the first production right-hand drive GT12s is currently being finalised by Pelican. Much will depend on the response generated by the demonstrator at EBE; the first of this initial batch will leave China in Q1 2019.www.pelicanyutong.co.ukrouteone commentPelican’s aspiration to bring the GT12 to the UK has long been no secret. It took a number of customers to Busworld Kortrijk in 2015, where the model was launched in left-hand drive form, and their reaction was positive.The first right-hand drive example shows considerable potential. Important to note is that it is not a replacement for the TC12.While it can do what the TC12 does, the GT12 is aimed at a different segment. Its high specification targets the touring market and that attractiveness will increase markedly as and when a 12.8m model follows. A tri-axle at around 14m wil add further options.Pelican does not expect to corner the full-size sector with the GT12 in the same manner that it has demand for purpose-built midis with the TC9. But the newcomer will make its mark in time. There can be no doubt about that.