First Bus and Equipmake partner on electric bus fleet upgrades

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Bus operator First Bus has announced a partnership with Equipmake that will see 12 of the operator’s first-generation electric buses in York in the UK being repowered with the electrification specialist’s technology.

Equipmake will convert the electric Optare Versa buses at its Norfolk, UK-based facility to operate using its newer electric Zero Emission Drivetrain (ZED), which features a larger battery to deliver an all-electric range of 240km. Equipmake worked with First Bus to ensure the range was adequate for the bus to complete a daily duty cycle before being recharged overnight. Both single- and double-decker buses can be converted to use the scalable, modular powertrain solution.

Equipmake’s conversion costs less than half the price of a new bus, and work is already underway on the first Versa. After a trial period, a further 11 buses will be repowered. Delivery of the first converted bus is scheduled for November 2022.

“Repowered buses represent a fantastic opportunity for operators to help accelerate the much-needed transition to sustainable mobility,” said Ian Foley, Equipmake’s CEO. “Together with our new electric bus, the Jewel E, this technology can facilitate a significant reduction in air pollution across the country. We are delighted that First Bus has chosen to implement our pioneering technology in 12 of the buses in its York Park & Ride fleet. This is great news for passengers and for the people of York, who can look forward to cleaner air in their city.”

“First Bus has repeatedly demonstrated its ambition to provide zero-emission transportation in the local communities that we operate in,” commented Garry Birmingham, director for decarbonization at First Bus. “The retrofitting of our older electric buses is another great example of how we can maximize the lifespan of a bus beyond 15 years and significantly reduce the embodied carbon associated with manufacturing new vehicles.

“These 12 repowered buses use a clever and cost-effective technology, which underlines our commitment to offer sustainable transportation solutions. Nationally, First Bus is committed to delivering our zero-emission fleet goal, and First York’s partnership with Equipmake is a great example of how we can achieve this ambition.”

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After spending six years working as a mechanic for various motorsport and high-end performance car companies, Callum joined UKi Media & Events in February 2020 as an assistant editor. In this role he uses his vast practical knowledge and passion for automotive to produce informative news pieces for multiple vehicle-related sectors.

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