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Ebusco - Net zero, transport

A white bus waits in the street to pick up passengers.

Ebusco drives towards zero emissions for Australia’s bus fleets

Netherlands-based electric bus producer Ebusco launched in Australia in 2022. Its first bus, the Ebusco 2.2, has been clocking up the kilometres. Operators have been keen to put it through its paces.

‘The bus has been accepted very well by operators who have driven the bus in Melbourne,’ says Ebusco Sales Director, Don Imrie.

‘The interest from the Sydney Bus Expo was also quite overwhelming,’ he adds. ‘I’m getting calls almost every week from operators wanting to know when I can get the bus for them to test.’

The Australian Government is invested in electrification. Its first National Electric Vehicle Strategy provides an initial framework and commitment to accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles.

State governments have also begun to transition their fleet of buses into Zero Emission Buses (ZEBS) to accelerate electrification in Australia. With only a small share of the fleet currently being electric, the opportunity is significant.

Bringing European experience to Australia

Ebusco put its first electric bus on the road in 2013. The company is known for using lightweight materials in its electric buses. Its 3.0 battery technology ensures buses can travel up to 700 km on a single charge in different climates and weather conditions. Ebusco estimates its more than 500 buses around the world have saved over 78 million kilogram tonnes of CO2 emissions.

The Dutch charging infrastructure sector is one of the densest and fastest-growing infrastructures globally. Thirty per cent of all charging points for electric cars in the European Union are in the Netherlands. As a result, Dutch companies are industry leading and looking to launch globally.

Bringing the bus to Australia meant Ebusco needed to develop its first right-hand drive model. That has taken several years but was worth the effort as zero-emission bus transition programs were being introduced across Australia.

Design receives positive local response

Getting the bus to Australia was an important milestone.

‘Operators need to physically see it and touch it and test it on local routes. You have to prove it on the road before people will actually believe it works,’ explains Imrie.

He says the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. Drivers are commenting on how easy and comfortable the bus is to drive.

Partnering with energy suppliers to help manage the transition

Compared with electric cars, charging infrastructure for electric buses is not such a high barrier to introduction. Buses drive predictable routes and return to depots. That means infrastructure can be centralised.

However, electrifying a bus fleet is still a significant undertaking. Ebusco’s partnership with Energy Australia should help with some of the challenges. The 2 companies will offer green transport energy solutions to bus fleet operators looking to transition to battery electric buses.

These solutions include:

  • Depot development
  • Grid connections
  • Electric charging
  • Solar and battery
  • Energy management and energy contracts.

‘We’re not just selling a bus and letting customers work out the rest themselves,’ says Rob Stevens, Ebusco’s Marketing and Communications Manager. ‘We can confidently provide the buses and offer operators a one-stop solution to help them switch to electric.’

Dario Turelli, Business Development Manager at Austrade, acknowledges the importance of this approach: ‘By providing additional services to the bus, Ebusco is helping operators and states to ease the transition. Ebusco is a good example of what Dutch innovation can do to quicken Australia’s transition towards zero emissions. There are more companies looking to contribute.’

Austrade support to engage with authorities

Imrie has spent his working life in the bus industry in Australia. He says his local knowledge has been essential in engaging with operators.

However, he has needed help to access state government transport authorities and work through policy issues. That’s where Austrade’s connections have been invaluable. Austrade helped Ebusco to navigate state departments and introduced the company to the right contacts. This allowed Ebusco to understand the ecosystem and various policies and make valuable connections.

‘It can be quite challenging and time-consuming to understand each state’s strategy and roadmap. Austrade is here to shorten that time and let the company focus on its core business,’ says Dario.

Ebusco’s latest model, the 3.0, is a composite fibre bus that Ebusco believes will be a game-changer for the industry. It is 27% lighter than the 2.2 model and testing shows it uses 35% less energy. The lighter weight also means less wear and tear, reducing maintenance costs.

Planning a future in Australia

It is still early, but Ebusco has big plans for its operations in Australia. These include developing local engineering capability and providing support for the region.

Imrie is optimistic about the industry’s future. ‘Compared with 4 years ago, there are so many new players in the market,’ he says. ‘You see it all the time at trade events with more and more people representing zero-emission vehicles. There are so many opportunities now.’

Go further, faster with Austrade

Published: 11 August 2023

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