Zeelo, a provider of carbon-neutral smart bus transport, kicks off trials in UK with Jaguar Land Rover

Zeelo, a global independent provider of 100 per cent carbon-neutral smart bus transport with live operations in three continents, has launched an electric bus program in partnership with six clients in the UK. 

The company has kicked off a taster scheme for six months with six local bus operators and six clients to switch their existing Zeelo commuter service to electric bus routes free of- harge for a period of one month each.

The initiative enables clients to test the feasibility of delivering emissions-free staff transport. As a long-standing client partner, Jaguar Land Rover has completed its one-month trial of an electric bus powered by Zeelo on its Gaydon site employee commuter service. This involves a 25-mile (40km) round-trip service amounting to 985 miles (1,586km) each month.

Making the switch to an emissions-free employee commuter service across all existing routes would enable Jaguar Land Rover to reduce its own CO2 emissions by 2,500 cubic tonnes per year and contribute to its own commitment to become carbon net zero by 2039. 

Jaguar Land Rover has been running Zeelo’s smart bus services for over five years, booking over 113,000 bus rides per year for office workers and frontline staff from nearby towns. It is also supporting the net-zero scheme as one of Zeelo’s first backers through its corporate venture capital arm InMotion Ventures.

Sam Ryan, Zeelo CEO, said: “We’re not just talking about going green, we’re actually doing it. Already five per cent of our services are electric and we intend to hit 15 per cent by end of the year. 

“But our mission for all Zeelo smart bus commutes to be net-zero by 2030 cannot be achieved without bringing the technology on the road, and conducting real-life feasibility tests to get buy-in from both our clients and our operator partners. 

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“That’s why we’re delighted to bring on board our longest-standing client and VC investor Jaguar Land Rover on the net-zero journey with us. I feel confident that Zeelo can pave the way for the wider transport industry and household brands with staff commuter services to transition to emissions-free shared transport.”

Mike Smeed, InMotion Ventures CVC managing director of the investment arm of Jaguar Land Rover, said: “Sam and his team have been supporting Jaguar Land Rover with commuter travel since 2018, and we’re delighted our ongoing investment in the business has led to an exploration of how to help all parties achieve their sustainability ambitions. 

“Equity investments are a critical component of our Open Innovation programme, a model for partnering with promising start-ups to create next-generation technologies that support Jaguar Land Rover’s Reimagine strategy.”

Key to Zeelo’s nationwide roadshow this month is to illustrate to its network of more than 200 bus operator partners the ease of use of electric vehicles for mass transit and to reduce barriers to modernise bus fleets. For example, high costs and concerns around distance achievable on electric-powered buses. 

Jaguar Land Rover trials Zeelo net-zero buses for staff commutes

Providing bus operators with the chance to trial a Yutong TCe12, the initiative will make it possible for fleet operators to measure the capabilities of electric vehicles in action before they make a commitment to investing in a completely electric fleet. Clients are already keen on the service but scaling the availability of electric buses is dependent on investment from bus operators. 

Zeelo has therefore set in place a financing scheme where partial costs for making the switch to electric transport will be covered through an upgraded client contract. At the same time enabling a preferential financing scheme for electric fleets and portable charging infrastructure provided to operators by Zeelo’s partner Zenobe.

Joanne Hill, a frequent rider of Zeelo commuter buses, and the Leadership, Purpose and Talent Consultant at Jaguar Land Rover at Gaydon, said: “The free commuter bus service that Jaguar Land Rover runs between Gaydon and Whitley sites is brilliant for me. 

“Not just because it saves me time and money on my daily commute but also because I may not have been able to accept the job opportunity without a regular commuter service. 

“The service is easy to use, reliable and I like the fact that electric buses are now being considered by my employer. I know many people would opt to travel by electric bus and leave their car at home if such a service became readily available.” 

Travelling by bus rather than car already enables a 78 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions per journey. Zeelo’s tech-enabled, flexible, turn-key and plug-in transportation services for over 1.8 million passengers per year on their daily commute to work and school across the UK, US and South Africa. 

Plus, it is already 100 per cent carbon neutral through offsetting measures, however, Zeelo is taking its ESG mission one step further, having pledged to transition all its services to net-zero electric bus routes by 2030.

The electric bus trial initiative has been made possible thanks to Zeelo’s new partnership program with the UK’s leading importer and distributor of YUTONG TCe12 buses and coaches, Pelican. This was launched in 2012 as part of the Pelican Engineering Group and has been part of Zeelo’s bus operator network since supplying fleets for services to Zeelo client McLaren.

The first electric bus commutes for Ocado have been on the road since 2021 and similarly for Dwight School London since 2022. Dwight School partnered with Zeelo to launch their first-ever staff commutes and opted to start immediately with smart bus commutes on electric buses.

Zeelo’s 2023 electric bus trials are designed to accelerate the transition to net zero services across all existing diesel-powered commutes over the next seven years.

Ian Osborne
Ian Osborne
Editor-in-Chief at ElectricDrives

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