Equipmake showcases sector-leading repower technology with New Routemaster all-electric bus

Electrification specialist Equipmake has showcased its latest all-electric bus technology with the new zero-emission version of the New Routemaster double-decker bus.

The clean, green New Routemaster has been repowered by Equipmake. This process sees its hybrid drivetrain completely replaced with Equipmake’s cutting-edge Zero Emission Drivetrain (ZED). This uses 95 per cent British-built component content.

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With pre-service trials already started in London, operated by Metroline, the electric version of the New Routemaster will continue to be assessed over the next six months. The programme will deliver valuable test data as Transport for London (TfL) continues to evaluate a range of clean technologies. This includes state-of-the-art repower systems such as Equipmake’s ZED. 

Charging infrastructure at Metroline’s Holloway depot, alongside battery data analytics for the bus, is being provided by Zenobē, the EV fleet and battery storage specialist.

The repowered New Routemaster, developed by Equipmake at its base in Snetterton, Norfolk, features a 400kWh battery. This enables an expected in-service range of 150 miles (241km) which is more than enough for a day’s running. 

The development of the New Routemaster electric vehicle (EV) has come about thanks to a programme partially funded by the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC). Over the coming months, Equipmake will be trialling additional repowered buses with other bus operators across the UK.

Ian Foley, Equipmake CEO, said: “Repowering is a vital, cost-effective transitionary technology that can bridge the gap between diesel and a new electric bus fleet. We are delighted to showcase our latest repower system in the shape of a zero-emission version of the iconic New Routemaster double-decker bus here today at Euro Bus Expo.

“London is leading the way in the adoption of green technologies for large commercial vehicles and as TfL continues to evaluate a range of clean technologies, we are confident our repower systems can play a rapid role in accelerating any zero-emission vehicle strategy.”

Adrian Jones, Metroline Engineering Director, said: “Metroline is delighted to trial this innovative fully-electric New Routemaster bus in London. Repowering technology has huge potential in enabling operators to accelerate the transition of fleets to zero emissions and we look forward to further evaluating this test vehicle over the coming six months.”  

The ZED which features in the New Routemaster can be applied to any existing hybrid or diesel bus, quickly upgrading the vehicle with a state-of-the-art battery drivetrain.

One of the ZED’s most important features is Equipmake’s patented ultra-efficient thermal management system. This maintains all three of the ZED’s key components – the battery pack, motor, and inverter – at an optimum operating temperature to maximise the vehicle’s range.

Featuring an advanced water-glycol cooling circuit, the system has the added benefit of providing interior heating during cold conditions with captured thermal energy. When the battery is depleted at the end of a complete duty cycle it can be recharged at the depot overnight via a CSS DC charging point.

Under the skin, the New Routemaster also features Equipmake’s HTM 3500 electric motor. This seamlessly integrates into the prop shaft without the need for a separate transmission. The motor is precisely engineered to meet the demanding requirements of a fully-laden double-decker bus by producing 3,500Nm torque at a motor speed of just 1,000rpm and delivering 400kW maximum power.

We are big fans of repowering existing vehicles rather than seeing them scrapped. This technology also helps operators transition to emission-free driving without the cost of a completely new bus. Instead of writing off a whole vehicle, repowering means the body and systems are effectively recycled. This brings huge environmental gains given that the manufacturing of a vehicle is one of the more polluting and energy-intensive parts of its lifecycle.  

As well as bringing environmental benefits, Equipmake’s repower programme makes sense from a cost perspective, with each conversion coming in at less than half the price of a new electric bus. Plus, with most buses expected to remain in service for 14 years or beyond, operators can still make significant efficiencies by repowering a bus halfway through its working life.  

Foley added: “We know there is a clear appetite for repowering technology, with strong demand from operators, which is leading to the expansion of our facilities in Norfolk. 

“Changes to grants for bus operators mean repowering is encouraged, and the DfT’s consultation on proposals to end the sale of new non-zero emission buses means demand for our technology will only increase. 

“Add in the associated financial benefits of a repowered bus, and it’s easy to see why such vehicles can very quickly bring cleaner air to every town and city in the UK.”

Earlier this year, Equipmake announced it was awarded a contract by First Bus to fully convert 12 Optare Versa buses from existing EV Generation One systems to Equipmake’s ZED. Conversion work has been carried out on the first Versa bus at Equipmake’s Snetterton headquarters, with the first of the 12 buses expected to be back in operation on York’s roads this month.

Ian Osborne
Ian Osborne
Editor-in-Chief at ElectricDrives

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