The world’s largest electric bus manufacturer is prepared to offer the ACT government a “circuit breaker” deal which will take the territory’s highest-emitting diesel buses off the road by October, and deploy 30 of the world’s most proven electric buses as immediate replacements.

The government is currently in a slow “market sounding” phase to replace 90 of its oldest diesel-powered buses on its fleet. No public tender has been issued yet.

Under the Zero Emissions Government Framework 2019-2025, all directorates are required to “work toward reducing emissions from their operations in a cost-effective manner with a focus on . . . transport emissions”.

Transport is the ACT’s highest source of government emissions, with around 30 of the oldest Renault buses as the fleet’s most significant polluters despite efforts to minimise their use.

Official directorate data revealed Transport Canberra buses produced 33 kilotonnes of carbon dioxide and equivalents last year, which is about 52 per cent of the total emission sources from government infrastructure and vehicles. The bus fleet also uses over 10 million litres of diesel a year.

Transport Canberra has trialled electric buses, and is now now in the market-sounding phase. Picture: Rohan Thomson
Transport Canberra has trialled electric buses, and is now now in the market-sounding phase.

Given the slow rate of the official EOI (expressions of interest) process, Australia’s biggest electric bus producer Nexport is preparing a proposal which will deliver a three year, no-obligation bus lease deal to the ACT government to demonstrate how quickly the introduction of electric buses would make a difference to Transport Canberra fleet emissions.

Luke Todd, Nexport’s chief executive, said the terms under which the BYD buses would be leased to the ACT would be “transparent and market competitive”, and admitted that his company would bear the bulk of the financial risk.

“We understand how keen the ACT government is, as a jurisdiction, to demonstrate national leadership in heavy transport emissions yet we also understand zero emissions technology is evolving,” he said.

“As a leader in this field it is upon us to provide low risk solutions to expedite the uptake of cleaner vehicles without the need of governments having to carry all of the long-term technology risk,” he said.

“The ACT has been able to effect much of the transition to zero emissions very quickly with its light vehicle fleet but transitioning heavy vehicles, such as its bus fleet, presents a much bigger and more complex challenge.

“Within our scope we have the ability to provide a flexible, low-cost option for the ACT. It is a genuine win-win for the ACT.

Transport Canberra previously has trialled electric buses for its fleet. Picture: Rohan Thomson
Transport Canberra previously has trialled electric buses for its fleet.

“Within four to five months, we can have the worst emitters on the ACT fleet off the road and demonstrate the viability and capabilities of our electric buses to the Canberra public.”

He said that included with the offer to the no-obligation three-year deal would be the installation, at a shared cost, of Woden depot-based recharging infrastructure with AC/DC current to future-proof it. The government has already set aside $18.4 million to refurbish the Woden depot as the recharging base for its new electric fleet.

Given that the ACT already has 20 hydrogen-powered fuel cell Hyundai Nexo vehicles on its fleet, all refuelled out of the newly-commissioned Fyshwick station, Nexport is also prepared to supplement its electric buses with two hydrogen fuel cell buses so the government can evaluate the two new technologies in a real-world environment.

Extracted in full from: ACT government electric bus deal in the works | The Canberra Times | Canberra, ACT