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Power to the future of electric bus transit

LEADING transit authorities from across the globe will have their eyes on Adelaide as Australia’s first electric urban buses begin trial on the city’s transport network.
SA Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation, Kyam Maher | Transit Australia Group Chief Commercial Officer, Damien Brown | ZF Lemforder Australia Managing Director, Christian Reynolds | SA Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis | SA Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Stephen Mullighan | Precision Components Australia Director, Mat Fitch
SA Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation, Kyam Maher | Transit Australia Group Chief Commercial Officer, Damien Brown | ZF Lemforder Australia Managing Director, Christian Reynolds | SA Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis | SA Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Stephen Mullighan | Precision Components Australia Director, Mat Fitch

They appear similar to a traditional bus, but the passenger experience aboard the 100 per cent battery-powered buses is unrivalled with quieter operation, smoother acceleration and zero environmental impact.

The wholly Australian designed and built operational electric urban buses are the innovative by-product of Transit Australia Group’s award-winning advanced bus manufacturing arm Bustech and Adelaide manufacturer Precision Components Australia.

Under their joint venture Precision Buses, the companies last year attracted a $2 million South Australian Government grant to locally develop and build two e-buses as well as Australia’s first two Euro 6 low emission diesel buses. The buses were this week launched by South Australia’s Premier and will soon take to Adelaide’s streets for trial.

While the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure examines how the buses integrate into its future transport solution, eyeballs the world over will also hone in on how the battery-powered buses stack up against Australia’s harsh operating climate.

The electric buses have a top speed of 80km/h and use regenerative braking to extend battery range. They utilise world-leading Toshiba batteries which can be charged up to 80 per cent within just 10 minutes on a network with correct infrastructure.

The ZDi and XDi Euro 6 buses also feature the hallmarks of Bustech’s unique monocoque chassis that are designed, engineered and manufactured in-house.

“We are showing Australia and the rest of the world how domestically produced electric and low emission buses which comply with Australian design standards, heavy vehicle regulations and state transit authority specifications can integrate into an urban network,” says Transit Australia Group CEO Michael McGee.

He said e-mobility transport held enormous potential for Australian manufacturers with the electric bus market in Asia-Pacific alone projected to exceed around $15 billion by 2020.

“The South Australian Government has been the first in Australia to demonstrate leadership on how governments and transport authorities can engage industry leaders to innovate and deliver market-leading transport vehicles of the future,” Mr McGee says.

“Electric buses are becoming an attractive alternative for urban transport networks across the world as more trials are conducted and vehicle design, battery and charging technology is continually enhanced.

“Bustech is not only generating jobs and supply chain opportunities as Australia adopts e-mobility technologies, but we also see strong export potential. As the global market grows, we are well poised to benefit with manufacturing facilities in Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania.”

Precision Components Australia director Mat Fitch said the government grant had encouraged a resurgence of advanced manufacturing in Northern Adelaide with the impending closure of Holden.

“Our alliance with Bustech has focused our skills and expertise away from automotive manufacturing and into an exciting growth industry that has already created 29 jobs and is supporting local materials and suppliers,” Mr Fitch says.

“Within six months Precision Buses has built wholly-Australian designed, engineered and manufactured electric buses and Euro 6 buses and they are rolling straight off the production line and onto Adelaide’s public transport network.

“We have also already signed agreements to build an additional 50 low carbon emission buses to supply inter-state demand for Bustech products.”

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