Public transport operator Transdev has announced it will trial a 39-seater electric bus in South East Queensland powered solely by the sun.
Under a partnership between Transdev and the Queensland state government, the Volgren Optimus bus will be trialled for two years and charged using Transdev’s “green mobility megawall”.
This “megawall” located at Transdev’s Capalaba depot consists of 10 Tesla Powerwall batteries for 135kW storage capacity fed by 250 solar panels that harvest an average of 438kWh a day.
The stored power will be used to charge the Transdev electric bus, which is built on a BYD chassis, and is kitted with a 348kW battery that delivers up to 300km range under normal operating conditions.
The two-year test will see the Transdev electric bus, which has capacity for 61 people in total, operated on bus routes in Brisbane and the Redlands to determine which routes are most suitable in terms of geography and stopping patterns, in order to get the most out of the bus’ battery.
Transdev CEO Luke Agati says cities like Brisbane are perfectly suited to solar-powered electric buses because there are so many days of sunshine throughout the year.
“Averaging more than 280 days of sunshine per year, Queensland well and truly lives up to its reputation as the Sunshine State, and we are excited to be bringing this clean, green, modern vehicle to Brisbane and the Redlands,” Agati said in a note by email.
The trial will be operated out of Transdev’s Capalaba depot, where its newly opened “Maintenance and Engineering Centre of Excellence” is located.
Member for Capalaba Don Brown says the Volgren electric bus trial is in line with Queensland’s plan for an e-mobility industry.
“Not only will the new vehicle be powered by the more than 159,000 kWh of local sunshine collected on-site each year, but it will be Queensland research and experience that will shape the design and introduction of new zero-emission fleet, both here in Queensland, and elsewhere across the country,” said Brown.
“The Palaszczuk Government is committed to collaborating with industry on the transition to electric vehicles and infrastructure and services, and Transdev’s decision to lead it’s e-mobility operations from Queensland is a recognition of the expertise and innovation that we have here in the Sunshine State.”
There are a number of plans in Queensland to introduce zero emissions public transport, including Brisbane City Council’s goal to introduce 60 articulated electric vehicles to service the Brisbane Metro public transport system.
Additionally, Logan Coaches will commence Brisbane’s first fully Queensland government-run electric bus route for Yarrabilba by December using a an electric BYD/Gemilang bus after an initital trial with a Yutong E12 bus.
Transdev Australasia is a subsidiary of the eponymous French transport operator Transdev, which claims to be a leader in zero emissions mobility in Europe, where it operates 800 electric buses and minibuses in nine countries.
Agati says that in Australia and New Zealand, Transdev is also working to introduce new fleet and innovations.
This article has been updated with more information about the Brsibane-first Logan Coaches electric bus route.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.