Following completion of final UK testing, an electric bus developed by Norfolk-based Equipmake and featuring the company’s zero emission powertrain, is to begin in-service trials in Buenos Aires.
Developed as part of the Advanced Propulsion Centre-funded CELEB (Cost Effective Low Entry Bus) project – in which Equipmake has led multiple international partners over the last three years – the objective of the program is to deliver a cost-effective bus designed for the South American market.
Working with Brazilian bus manufacturer Agrale and Argentinian coachbuilder Todo Bus, Equipmake has developed, from the ground-up, an electric version of the Agrale MT17.0LE single decker, installing its own Zero Emission Drivetrain (ZED).
This modular and scaleable battery drivetrain, developed at Equipmake’s HQ in Snetterton, is the same technology also used in Equipmake’s new London-specification bus, the double decker Jewel E.
Edson Martins, Commercial Director of Agrale, said: “Agrale is a leading provider of urban passenger transportation in Argentina, and with this new bus we will be able to build on our already strong position.
“Improving urban air quality is a global problem; we’re excited to be at the cutting edge of a solution.”
The Agrale MT17.0LE project features a bespoke Equipmake ZED with a 318kWh lithium-ion battery, Equipmake’s own HTM 3500 electric motor – producing 3,500 Nm torque at 1,000rpm and 400kW maximum power, seamlessly integrated into the prop shaft without the need for a separate transmission – and a Semikron SKAI inverter.
Over the last 12 months, Equipmake’s engineering team has put the new bus through an extensive durability programme in and around Norfolk, with thousands of test miles completed on proving grounds, city centres (including Norwich) and on motorways.
From this robust test programme, Equipmake estimates the new electric Agrale MT17.0LE will have a range of up to 150 miles – more than enough for a day’s use in Buenos Aires.
When the battery is depleted at the end of a complete duty cycle, it can be recharged at the depot overnight via a CSS2 DC charging point.
The Equipmake ZED-powered Agrale MT17.0LE, a 12m single deck model capable of carrying 70 passengers, will be operated over the next 12 months by DOTA S.A., the largest bus operator in Buenos Aires.
Following the successful completion of the trial, the objective is for mass manufacture to begin in Buenos Aires with Agrale and Todo Bus, using licenced Equipmake ZED technology.
Ian Foley, managing director of Equipmake, said: “Through this innovative Advanced Propulsion Centre-funded project, we have worked closely with Agrale and Todo Bus along with other key partners, and the result is a state-of-the-art yet cost-effective bus.
“We are now looking forward to the start of the trial and the potential for this new vehicle is huge. Buenos Aires has around 16,000 buses on its streets – roughly twice the size of London’s fleet.
“There’s no doubt that electric buses can play a significant role in helping Argentina’s capital hit its 2050 net zero objective.”
Equipmake’s ZED system also underpins Jewel E, the new double-decker electric bus developed with Spanish bus builder Beulas.
Designed and developed from the ground up to deliver clean, cost-effective zero emission urban transportation in any town or city across the globe, Jewel E’s modular battery pack has options of up to 548kWh, with a maximum of 300 miles on a single charge.
It will begin in-service trials with London’s largest bus operator, Go-Ahead, in the coming months.
Equipmake’s ZED system also enables the repower of almost any type of bus too. Replacing an existing ICE drivetrain, the company’s repower programme involves an inspection of each bus to ensure adaptability.
Once its suitability is verified, the process itself is quick, with up to five repowers a week being able to be completed, ensuring a working bus is kept off the road for as short a time as possible.
Each repower is tailored to specific operator requirements, with service routes simulated to ensure the correct battery power level is selected for optimum performance and efficiency, and guaranteed driving ranges of 150 to 250 miles achievable, more than sufficient for a complete duty cycle, allowing buses to be recharged overnight.
As well as bringing environmental benefits, Equipmake’s repower programme makes sense from a cost perspective, with each conversion coming in at less than half the price of a new electric bus.
And with most buses expected to remain in service for 14 years or beyond, operators can still make significant efficiencies by repowering a bus halfway through its working life.
Foley added: “In parallel with the creation of new electric buses, repowering is an important and cost-effective transitionary technology that can bridge the gap between diesel and a new electric bus fleet.
“There is clear appetite for the technology, with strong demand from operators, leading to the expansion of our facilities in Norfolk. We believe interest will only increase and, next to the associated financial benefits, repowered vehicles can very quickly bring cleaner air to any town or city.”