Equipmake, the UK-based engineering specialist pioneering the development and production of electrification products across the automotive, aerospace, bus, and coach industries, has doubled its fleet repowering agreement with Big Bus Tours.
Following on from an initial contract with the world’s largest sightseeing company –announced in September 2023 – to repower 10 double-deck, open-top buses with its cutting edge electric zero emission electric drivetrain technology, Equipmake has now extended the agreement to a fleet of 20 vehicles.
As millions of tourists arrive in London every week, many hop on an iconic open-top tour bus to see the city’s famous and historic sites. Supporting Big Bus Tours’ commitment to sustainability, Equipmake is working with the operator to convert even more of its existing fleet from diesel to fully electric.
All 20 vehicles are Ankai double-deck sightseeing buses – and each will be converted to incorporate Equipmake’s cutting-edge Zero-Emission Drivetrain (ZED) technology, which in this specification features a 327kWh capacity battery, providing a 120-mile daily range. The entire repowered fleet will be delivered by January 2025, with three buses delivered by May 2024, and two per month thereafter. The first is set to enter service in Q1 2024.
Ian Foley, CEO of Equipmake, commented: “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.”
Gerry Price, Executive Vice President – Group Operations at Big Bus Tours added: “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.”
Each Equipmake repower is completely bespoke to the requirements of the specific vehicle with service routes simulated to ensure the optimum battery level is selected, and that required mileage is achievable.
The ZED, which is completely modular and scalable and can be applied to single as well as double-decker buses, features Equipmake’s in-house developed electric motor, inverter, and power electronics, combined with the latest in lithium-ion batteries. In addition, one of its most important features is Equipmake’s patented ultra-efficient thermal management system, which maintains all three of the ZED’s key components – the battery pack, motor, and inverter – at an optimum operating temperature, maximising vehicle 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.
By choosing to repower existing buses using Equipmake’s revolutionary technology and methods, significant cost and environmental benefits are achievable. Repurposing an existing bus chassis and body can save 90 tonnes of embedded CO2, in comparison to producing brand new electric double deck buses. Each conversion costs less than half of a new electric bus, and with most buses in service for 14 years or more, operators can make significant savings by repowering a bus halfway through its operational life.