British made electric double-decker bus shapes up in London

Published by
Sophie Vorrath

British commercial vehicle electrification specialist, Equipmake, has joined forces with Spanish coachbuilder Beulas to launch a fully-electric double-decker bus, offering a “world-leading” range of up to 250 miles, or 400km.

The Jewel E, pictured above, features an electric powertrain designed and developed at Equipmake’s purpose-built facility in Norfolk, which is offered alongside three possible battery-pack configurations, ranging from 325kWh up to 534kWh.

The 534kWh battery pack translates, as noted above, to a range of more than 250 miles (400km), which Equipmake managing director Ian Foley says is believed to be the highest the of any single axle double-decker electric bus in the world today.

Equipmake’s advanced propulsion technology – called Zero Emission Drivetrain (ZED) – is modular and scalable, to support different bus sizes; it is already being used in single-decker form in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in a partnership with Agrale.

As you can see in the video below, the battery packs in the Jewel E double-decker bus (each of which is 108kWh) are strategically located around the bus to keep the weight distribution even across the vehicle, as well as to offer easy access for servicing.

Integrated into the drivetrain is Equipmake’s HTM 3500 motor, which combines high torque with low motor speeds, and is fitted directly onto the propshaft, removing the need for a separate gearbox. Maximum torque is 3,500Nm and maximum power 400kW, via a Semikron SKAI inverter.

The company also claims to have put together one of the most efficient thermal management systems on the market, which keeps the motor, inverter and battery at optimum operating temperature. A water-glycol cooling circuit can capture thermal energy to heat the bus’s interior in cold conditions.

The buses’ batteries can be recharged at the depot overnight using a combined charging system DC charging point.

On the outside, the body produced by Beulas in Girona, Spain, presents the image of a regular-looking – albeit, pretty sleek – double-decker bus, the sort you see regularly on the streets of London, but without the emissions.

“Improving urban air quality is a global problem,” said Foley in a statement this week. “At the same time, operators want vehicles that are cost-effective and highly efficient, while governments and local bodies need bus manufacturers to bring advanced technology to market quickly.”

As The Driven reported earlier this week, London mayor Sadiq Khan announced that all new buses ordered for England’s capital would be zero-emission, and set a goal for the city to have a 100% zero emission bus fleet by 2034, rather than 2037.

In this market, Equipmake will be competing with China-based and Warren Buffett-backed BYD, which in 2019 had already supplied more than 100 all-electric double-decker buses to the UK market.

But in Equipmake’s offering, there is the added benefit of a (mostly) locally made product and supply chain, local jobs, and – if the company’s claims are accurate – a world-leading battery range.

“What’s more it’s also the first EV bus to meet TfL’s tough 2024 regulations too,” added Foley. “And with demand increasing globally for electric buses, we believe it provides the right solution both nationally and internationally.”

Testing of Jewel E begins in Q4 2021 with in-service trials expected to take place in Q1 2022. Manufacture and sales of Jewel E will begin in 2022.

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