With worldwide demand for electric buses looking set to hit around 300,000 unit sales a year, it’s great news that Equipmake has opened its brand new, purpose built factory in Snetterton, around 10 miles south west of Norwich. The 1,500 square metre (16,000 sq ft) plant will be dedicated to designing and building a fully-integrated, world-leading electric bus chassis. WhichEV looks at the way EBus is likely to be able to take advantage of the massive up-coming opportunities in the public transport sector.
Anyone who’s ever done a full track day, will tell you that the Ariel Atom absolutely blew their socks off. Atom’s next generation product will be the Hipercar, due to enter production in 2020. The powerplant for the Ariel Hipercar will be an ultra-compact, lightweight, high performance electric motor from Equipmake called the APM200. The same motor powers Euipmake’s EBus. Interesting times. Great start.
As its various electric projects have developed, Equipmake has managed to attract £7.5m in funding from the Advanced Propulsion Centre and a wise investment it appears to be. The result is a truly flexible, integrated platform that allows bus and coach makers around the world to get a new vehicle to market in record time and with minimal fuss.
Heating and cooling systems have been pre-integrated, such that a 12 metre, single deck bus design can carry up to 70 passengers in comfort, all day long, on a single charge. This is crucial, because traditional buses can use the same amount of energy to heat or cool the interior, as it uses for propulsion.
Recharging the Equipmake EBus takes just 5 hours on a standard three-phase supply. Double decker versions are set to follow shortly. Here's Equipmake's vision for the future.
Relationships have already been put in place with Brazil, Argentina and India, with in-service trials beginning with Brazilian commercial vehicle manufacturer Agrale at the start of 2020. EBus vehicles will be on the streets of Buenos Aires, Argentina by 2021.
Liz Truss, Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade, was on hand to praise the opening of the new production facility, “It’s fantastic to see world-leading technology produced here in Norfolk and the fact that these buses are being exported globally further underlines the depth of talent that exists along the A11 technology corridor”.
“Equipmake is a shining example of an innovative engineering company. We are committed to increasing R&D tax credits to support ventures like this. I wish Equipmake every success for the future”, she said. A sentiment that we are happy to echo.
Ian Foley, Managing Director of Equipmake, said: “I am proud to open this facility and very grateful for the funding we have received from the UK Government through the Advanced Propulsion Centre. It has supported us in the design and development of a highly innovative and in-demand product, showing that a relatively small company from Norfolk can become a global technology leader“.
“There is huge demand for clean, affordable electric buses and that is only growing as cities strive to improve urban air quality“, said Foley. “Manufacture of the powertrain will scale dramatically over the next few years and our target is 700 EBus chassis for South America alone in the first year of production. That is why our new bespoke facility here in Snetterton is so important – it is crucial to fulfilling requirements from international customers for both single and double decker applications.”
Equipmake believes that EBus will be cheaper to run than diesel alternatives over an eight to ten year period. It's uncertain whether that takes into account any punitive taxes and charges that governments may apply to diesel locally.
At first glance, the return on investment for this project seems amazing. With £7.5m in funding, the EBus has been developed by a dedicated, world-class team running an efficient operation in Norfolk and it’s on schedule to begin significant exports a year after opening its new plant.
WhichEV wishes everyone at Equipmake success with the venture and we encourage every bus operator in the UK to consider placing orders.