Transport for London (TfL) has a goal of making its entire fleet zero emissions by 2034 and that goal has just gotten closer to reality thanks to the launch of Equipmake’s ‘repowered’ Routemaster bus. Unveiled at the Euro Bus Expo, it is the first time that the iconic vehicle has gone pure electric and what’s more, thanks to Equipmake’s method of repowering rather than replacing, the existing fleet could be converted.
The ‘New Routemaster’ was introduced into service in 2011 with 1000 vehicles produced between then and 2017. Powered by a hybrid powertrain which combined a diesel engine and 18kWh battery connected to a traction motor, it was a step forward, but provided only limited reductions in emissions whilst on the move.
Equipmake’s innovation is to replace the hybrid powertrain with a cutting-edge, zero emission powertrain which is almost completely built in the UK – retaining the Routemaster’s intrinsic link with the country. It is also a more sustainable solution than simply replacing the Routemasters with new buses.
Under the skin is a system which can be applied to almost any existing diesel or hybrid bus. It comprises a motor which drives a propshaft – negating the need for a separate transmission – and produces 2581lb-ft of torque at just 1000rpm. Max power is 536bhp.
Obviously, a fully laden double-decker bus is going to be very hungry for electrons, so Equipmake has developed a 400kWh battery which is good for over 150 miles in the Routemaster – and up to 250 miles in other models of bus. Given that an average London bus will do less than 100 miles per day, the range is ample. Other efficiency innovations include a water-glycol cooling circuit which can heat the interior of the bus on cold days through captured thermal energy.
Metroline is undertaking pre-service trials of an already converted Routemaster around London over the next six months to assess the suitability for adoption by TfL. The company has charging infrastructure at its depot in Holloway, so assessment of that – and the bus’s battery – will also be undertaken and fed into future plans.
Adrian Jones, Engineering Director, Metroline, said: “Metroline is delighted to trial this innovative fully-electric New Routemaster bus in London. Repowering technology has huge potential in enabling operators to accelerate the transition of fleets to zero emissions and we look forward to further evaluating this test vehicle over the coming six months.”
It isn’t just London that will likely see buses repowered by Equipmake in the near future. Its modular and scalable electric architecture’s ability to be used in all manner of bus types will likely see it make headway in other regions and metropolitan areas of the UK.
Ian Foley, CEO of Equipmake, said: “We know there is a clear appetite for repowering technology, with strong demand from operators, which is leading to the expansion of our facilities in Norfolk. Changes to grants for bus operators mean repowering is encouraged, and the DfT’s consultation on proposals to end the sale of new non-zero emission buses means demand for our technology will only increase.”
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