Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland in Australia, is trialing electric buses with a view to transitioning the fleet. One of the early issues was that the buses were too powerful. Yes, too powerful. The electric buses took off too fast and engineers were worried about passenger safety. This has now been rectified. Australia’s electric bus manufacturing industry is in its early years, so the trial will be conducted using Yutong buses made in China. This has caused some controversy, as local manufacturers are concerned about local jobs.
It is expected that the locals will catch up quickly and new buses will be on the road shortly, using a mix of imported and locally manufactured products. As an example, Sydney, the capital of New South Wales (NSW), is running a two-week trial using a bus fully designed and built by Custom Denning — a local firm. The NSW government plans to convert its entire bus fleet (800 units) to electric by 2030.
Transdev in Victoria is producing electric buses for use in Melbourne. Numbers are small for the moment, but momentum is building at Volgren to manufacture more to meet the demands of the market. This marks a milestone towards the development of a sustainable, long-term, zero-emissions bus manufacturing industry in Australia.
A confluence of talent is creating the 12.5-metre ZDi electric bus at the BusTec company in South Australia, with a potential output of 500 buses a year. Prototypes are already servicing customers in Adelaide, the capital of South Australia. The lead executive is from Tesla, and workers have been drawn from Holden (GM), Jaguar, Aston Martin, and Maclaren. The group behind BusTec created the Brabham BT6 supercar. So I wonder if these buses will be too fast also!
Not to be left behind, Perth, the capital of Western Australia, will be trialing 4 Volvo electric buses in 2022.
It’s early days for electric buses in Australia. With over 100,000 buses on the road running on fossil fuels of some sort, there is a long way to go. But early results from trials in most capital cities appear to be favourable. The extra comfort and connectivity have attracted the term “luxury.” Just as cars aren’t just cars, buses aren’t just buses anymore.
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