Electrifying London: The UK capital’s Big Bus Tours just got more sustainable 

  • Equipmake expands deal with Big Bus Tours to repower 20 double-deck buses with ZED technology.
  • ZED includes a 327kWh battery for a 120-mile range; fleet delivery by January 2025.
  • Repowering emphasizes cost savings and environmental benefits over acquiring new electric buses.

Equipmake pushes London’s Big Bus Tours towards decarbonisation with 20 converted buses

Equipmake, a leading UK engineering specialist, is significantly expanding its partnership with Big Bus Tours in London. Originally, Equipmake signed a contract in September 2023 to repower 10 open-top tour buses with cutting-edge electric drivetrain technology. Now, the company has doubled the deal, extending it to a total of 20 vehicles.

The focus of this collaboration is the conversion of Ankai double-deck sightseeing buses from diesel to fully electric, incorporating Equipmake’s state-of-the-art Zero-Emission Drivetrain (ZED) technology. This ZED system boasts a 327kWh battery, offering an impressive 120-mile daily range per bus.

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Scheduled for delivery by January 2025, the fleet expansion will see three buses arriving by May 2024, followed by two buses per month thereafter. The first revamped vehicle is set to hit the streets in Q1 2024.

Ian Foley, CEO of Equipmake, stated: 

“Our industry-leading integrated zero emission drivetrain system continues to impress new and existing customers, as evidenced by the extension of this contract with Big Bus Tours. This agreement will double the size of its fully electric, repowered fleet, demonstrating both the quality and efficacy of our state-of-the-art technology, and the level of investment being made across the transport sector as it moves towards a net zero future.”  

Each repowered bus is a bespoke solution tailored to the specific vehicle’s requirements. Equipmake ensures optimal battery selection and achievable mileage by simulating service routes. The ZED system is modular and scalable, applicable to both single and double-decker buses, featuring Equipmake’s in-house developed electric motor, inverter, and power electronics, along with the latest lithium-ion batteries.

A notable feature of Equipmake’s technology is its patented ultra-efficient thermal management system. This system maintains the battery pack, motor, and inverter at an optimal operating temperature, maximizing the vehicle’s range. Moreover, the advanced water-glycol cooling circuit provides interior heating during cold conditions using captured thermal energy.

Gerry Price, Executive Vice President – Group Operations at Big Bus Tours commented: 

“As part of our drive for global net zero, Equipmake’s performance to date with the development of the first 10 buses ordered made the decision to increase the number an easy one and will further progress our class leading zero emissions status in the London tourism market.”

The decision to repower existing buses with Equipmake’s technology underscores significant cost and environmental benefits. Repurposing existing bus chassis and bodies can save a substantial 90 tonnes of embedded CO2 compared to manufacturing new electric double-deck buses. Furthermore, the conversion costs less than half of acquiring new electric buses, enabling operators to realize significant savings over a bus’s 14-year operational life.

The rise of repowered vehicles is opening the door to affordable EV solutions. Employing these innovative vehicles in the tourist industry is yet another proof of concept.

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