NSW takes lead in electric bus transformation


Peter Roberts
Contributor

Australia has made good progress decarbonising the electricity market, but one of the most glaring of omissions in Australia’s national climate stance remains our tardiness on taking action in a transport sector still wedded to fossil fuels.

However just as the states have led the way in renewable electricity, New South Wales has taken the lead in transport, adding BusTech’s all-electric ZDi 12.5-meter transit bus to the NSW procurement panel.

BusTech executive chairman Christian Reynolds outlined the features of the ZDi bus (pictured) at an AMCHAM lunch in Adelaide on Friday, saying that transport operators now had a choice of domestic product versus international import models.

The potential market is huge with NSW committing to transition its entire bus fleet to zero emissions within the decade.

Electric bus
Transport: NSW has leapt ahead in building its electric bus fleet and infrastructure

Starting with 120 electric buses in 2021, the state plans to convert all 8,000 buses in its fleet by 2030.

Claims for BusTech Group’s ZDi bus are bold, including that it offers the highest stored energy of any bus on the Australian market, the highest energy density battery pack, and the lowest cost per kilometre of operation.

BusTech chief technical officer Gregg Dinning said: “The all-electric ZDi’s battery pack provides over 420kwh of useable energy, enabling maximum range before requiring a recharge.

“This provides operators flexibility in both operational use and charging strategy, whilst also addressing Australia’s extreme weather conditions.”

No doubt competition for orders will be fierce, but BusTech starts with the only locally manufactured chassis as one advantage over imports.

The company has partnered with Proterra, the leading battery and powertrain solution provider in the US, and has committed to manufacturing batteries onshore once demand builds.

BusTech itself is a company going, starting with chairman Reynolds who is ex-Tesla.

Formed from Adelaide and Brisbane manufacturers Precision Buses and BusTech, the company is planning a new facility in Newcastle within the next six months.

But the company’s flagship investment isn’t the sort of conveyance your granny would use to go to the shops.

The BusTech group is involved in manufacturing the Brabham BT62, the million-dollar supercar hand built in Adelaide.

But while the buses are electric, the Brabham is powered by a 5.4 litre Brabham engine capable of producing 700bhp or 522kW of power and 667 Nm of torque.

It may not be long before such V8 monsters are confined to museums, but in the meantime who wouldn’t want to take the BT62 for a spin?

This story originally appeared in @AuManufacturing. You can subscribe to its newsletter here.

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