Electric bus from Equipmake enters final phase of testing

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Equipmake has now entered the final testing phase of its electric bus drivetrain. The performance and durability-focused evaluation work is scheduled to finish at the end of the year. In-service trials of the vehicle will then begin in the first quarter of 2020 by Brazilian commercial vehicle manufacturer, Agrale. Agrale will launch the electric bus first in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 2021.

The EBus drivetrain features two of the company’s spoke-architecture electric motors at its heart. These motors, which will also power the upcoming Ariel Hipercar, are mated to Semikron SKAI inverters. The battery uses the latest-generation lithium-ion cells.

A UK-based test and development program has ensured that the APM200 motors, battery and power control system work as intended.

The drivetrain is said to feature a number of novel innovations that not only improve vehicle range, but reduce capital cost. By optimizing the heating and cooling of the vehicle and maximizing overall energy efficiency, the bus will have enough range for one day’s running without the need for charging. In this way, the vehicle is not reliant on infrastructure and can maintain flexibility of route.

A standard three-phase supply will fully charge the vehicle in around five hours. However, the powertrain also supports fast-charging – and has an onboard charger. Equipmake’s EBus system is also modular, meaning it can be adapted to different bus lengths and vehicles, including a double-decker. The Agrale bus in testing is based on the MT17, a 12m single-deck model capable of carrying 70 passengers.

Ian Foley, managing director of Equipmake, said, “We are very excited to be reaching the final phase of EBus powertrain testing ahead of in-service trials in Buenos Aires early next year. The drivetrain has performed exactly as expected so far, but as we complete our UK-based durability testing, our team of expert engineers will be making sure it continues to hit every target in order to fulfill its demanding application in Argentina.

“There is a significant global demand for clean, affordable electric buses. In Buenos Aires alone there are 16,000 buses in operation, which are replaced at a rate of 1,000 models every year, while the global market for electric buses is around 300,000 vehicles per annum – and that is only growing.

“Manufacture of Equipmake’s EBus powertrains is set to scale dramatically over the next few years, so much so that we will be moving to a new bespoke facility in Snetterton in the coming months. We expect to build 700 EBus drivetrains for Agrale in the first year of production, but we are already seeing major demand from markets all over the world, making our new factory crucial to fulfilling demand.

“Electric buses are one of the most effective ways to reduce pollution caused by public transportation. Up until now, cost has held back widespread adoption, but with Equipmake’s electric chassis that is no longer a barrier.”

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Rachel's career in journalism began around five years ago when she started working for UKi Media & Events, having recently graduated from Coventry University where she studied the subject. Her favourite aspect of the job is interviewing industry experts, including researchers, scientists, engineers and technicians, and learning more about the groundbreaking technologies and innovations that are shaping the future of the automotive and tire industries.

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