Australian manufacturer wheels out first electric bus in WA

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Australian manufacturer Volgren has completed the first of 18 electric buses that will be built at its manufacturing facility in Perth’s northern suburbs as part of a $250 million (USD 166.6 million) joint state and federal government program.

The Western Australian (WA) government has committed $125 million to acquire 130 locally manufactured electric buses, while the federal government has committed a further $125 million towards electric bus charging infrastructure at key depots in Perth.

The initial phase of the program will deliver 18 electric buses and manufacturer Volgren said the first of those is now complete with the vehicle undergoing testing and commissioning. The bus is expected to enter service in metropolitan Perth within the next two months.

The remaining 17 electric buses to be rolled out as part of the program are due to be in service by the middle of next year, with each bus able to travel up to 300 kilometres on a single charge.

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the electric buses will deliver a range of benefits for public transport users in Perth, including lower running costs and less emissions than diesel and gas-powered models.

The introduction of the first full fleet of electric buses comes after a 2022 trial of four electric buses in northern Perth. Saffioti said those buses, which remain in service, have travelled more than 380,000 kilometres and reduced carbon emissions by about 350 tonnes.

“Not only are these buses cleaner and better for the environment, they’re also cheaper to operate than the current diesel buses,” she said.

WA government analysis shows the cost to operate an electric bus across its 18-year service life is about $1 million less than the current diesel buses.

The first of the charging infrastructure to be deployed as part of the joint government initiative has also been announced with Jet Charge recently awarded a $1.65 million contract to install charging infrastructure. Kempower will supply the hardware for the project, deploying its DC satellite system, including modular architecture and 600 kW power cabinets that can be remotely located.

“The joint investment by our government and the Albanese Labor government is not just about the delivery of new electric buses, it’s about ensuring our manufacturing facilities, depots and bus stations have the infrastructure to support a future bus fleet that is fully electric,” Saffioti said.

The investment to deliver the new electric bus fleet in WA is supporting more than 100 local jobs.

Author: Ken Braganza

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