British electric commercial vehicle manufacturer, Equipmake, has won the deal to supply advanced open-top buses to Big Bus Tours, the world's largest sightseeing company. This will enable them to revamp their fleet with cutting-edge electric drivetrain technology. The collaboration will see 10 iconic double-deck, open-top buses powered by Equipmake's innovative Zero-Emission Drivetrain (ZED) technology.
As millions of tourists flock to the capital each week, many opt for the quintessential experience of touring the city's famous landmarks on an open-top bus. In alignment with Big Bus Tours‘ commitment to sustainability, Equipmake is working closely with the operator to convert a significant portion of its existing diesel fleet into fully electric vehicles.
The selected vehicles for this electrification initiative are all Ankai double-deck sightseeing buses. Each will undergo a transformation to incorporate Equipmake’s ZED technology, featuring a 327kWh capacity battery that provides an impressive daily range of over 120 miles. The first of these electrified buses is scheduled to enter service in the first quarter of 2024.
This project builds on Equipmake's experience of helping First Bus in York to begin its journey to being an all-EV corporation last year – as well as the Jewel E units delivered to London's largest operator ‘Go Ahead' back in 2021.
Ian Foley, CEO of Equipmake, expressed his enthusiasm for the partnership, stating, “We are delighted to be partnering with Big Bus Tours as it continues to make its fleet more sustainable. It’s fantastic to work with companies that share a forward-thinking mindset and recognise the immense advantages of repowering.”
Gerry Price, Executive Vice President at Big Bus Tours, added, “Our partnership with Equipmake will significantly support us as we transition our fleet to zero emissions. The state-of-the-art technology it has developed and its shared commitment to sustainability makes this a hugely exciting opportunity for us.”
Equipmake’s repowering process is tailored to the specific requirements of each vehicle, with service routes simulated to ensure optimal battery performance and achievable mileage. The ZED, a modular and scalable system applicable to single and double-decker buses, includes Equipmake’s in-house developed electric motor, inverter, and power electronics, alongside the latest lithium-ion batteries.
A key feature of the ZED is Equipmake’s patented ultra-efficient thermal management system, ensuring optimal operating temperatures for the battery pack, motor, and inverter. The system, with advanced water-glycol cooling, not only maximises vehicle range but also provides interior heating during cold conditions using captured thermal energy.
By choosing to repower existing buses, Big Bus Tours aims to achieve significant cost and environmental benefits. Repurposing existing bus chassis and bodies can save up to 90 tonnes of embedded CO2 compared to producing new electric double-deck buses. Additionally, each conversion costs less than half of a new electric bus, offering substantial savings for operators over the vehicle's operational life.
Equipmake, with over 20 years of experience in developing innovative electric powertrains, has established itself as a global leader in bus repowering. The company, led by CEO Ian Foley, a highly-experienced engineer with a background in global motorsport, has successfully completed various projects, including the all-electric repower of the New Routemaster and collaboration with First Bus to upgrade its fleet. Equipmake's expertise also extends to the electrified aerospace sector, providing electric motors for rockets and VTOL applications, as well as contributing to electric sports car and hypercar projects.
Investing in Equipmake will probably go down as Liz Truss' only lasting positive contribution to the UK's economy.