Brisbane-based Bustech is making moves to increase its footprint in the electric bus market, with the announcement of a deal with Queensland Labor, as well as a partnership with US commercial vehicle giant Cummins.
Bustech’s deal with Labor to build 10 electric buses for the Queensland government will see the first trialled in 2021, when it will run passengers between Broadbeach and Gold Coast Airport in South East Queensland.
The electric bus will serve on the popular Route 777 for 12 months at a cost of $1 million as part of the Queensland government’s $23 billion plan to boost transport infrastructure. A trial will also be run in Logan.
With Queensland now in caretaker mode as it approaches a state election, the state Labor government is waging a campaign to win over those keen to see a transition to clean transport.
“Building the next generation of electric buses right here in Queensland provides pathways for new jobs, more investment in local manufacturing and a chance to transition public transport to cleaner, low-emission technologies,” said Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk of the electric bus trial in a statement.
The Bustech trials will be run in collaboration with local bus companies Clarks and Kinetic Group, and the Gold Coast portion of the trial alone is expedcted to create 150 jobs, said Queensland minister for transport Mark Bailey.
“We’ve built light rail, we’re rolling out the longest electric vehicle superhighway in the world, and from next year locals will build and ride electric buses that will be able to travel up to 300km from a single charge,” Bailey said in a statement.
“As Logan matures as one of Queensland’s most attractive cities to live and do business in, Clarks continues to look for better ways to keep residents moving and connected – and greener buses will make travelling with us an even better experience,” said Clarks GM Martin Hall in a statement.
“It’s great to see Burleigh Heads’ very own Bustech will build electric vehicles to be trialled by Clark’s Logan, supporting 150 direct jobs and boosting our local supply chains in the process,” said Labor’s candidate for Burleigh, ex surfer Wayne ‘Rabbit’ Bartholomew.
In Logan, a bus lane upgrade will compliment the roll out of the 10 electric Bustech buses, said member for Waterford Shannon Fentiman.
“As part of Queensland’s plan for economic recovery, the Palaszczuk Government is extending the busway in Logan thanks to the $749 million M1 upgrade through to Daisy Hill, and very soon we’ll see electric buses on our streets,” Fentiman said in a statement.
In addition to the Gold Coast/Logan deal and trials, Bustech has also inked a partnership with US bus giant Cummins to provide bodies and frames in which the US company’s electric, diesel and fuel cell hydrogen (FCEV) powertrains would be used.
According to Bus News, the deal encapsulates a ‘one bus, three powertrain options’ approach that it says will futureproof any operator drivetrain requirements throughout the 25-year lifetime of the bodies.
The report states that powertrain components will be made in the US, then shipped to and integrated in Australia. Powertrains could be swapped out at any time, and although pricing for the deal has not yet been set it has been described as “competitive”.
In August, Bustech also went public on a plan to use Proterra batteries in a new generation of electric buses, although the new deal with Cummins will see the US company’s 444kWh to 518kWh battery packs used to offer up to 350km driving range.
According to Bus News, the driving range of the FCEV powertrain would be 450-600km depending on on-board hydrogen storage options.
Bridie Schmidt is associate editor for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.