Equipmake’s electric bus heads for in-service trials in Buenos Aires

An electric bus developed in Norfolk by Equipmake is to begin in-service trials in Buenos Aires following completion of final UK testing.

Marking the first overseas on-road trial of an Equipmake-developed electric bus, the zero-emission single decker is set to start in-service running in Argentina’s capital in Q3 of this year.

Developed as part of the Advanced Propulsion Centre-funded CELEB (Cost Effective Low Entry Bus) project – in which Equipmake has led multiple international partners over the last three years – the objective of the program has been to deliver a cost-effective bus designed for the South American market.

Working with Brazilian bus manufacturer Agrale and Argentinian coachbuilder Todo Bus, Equipmake has developed, from the ground-up, an electric version of the Agrale MT17.0LE single decker, installing its own Zero Emission Drivetrain (ZED). This state-of-the art modular and scale-able battery drivetrain, developed at Equipmake’s HQ in Snetterton, is the same technology also used in Equipmake’s new London-specification bus, the double decker Jewel E.

The Agrale MT17.0LE project features a bespoke Equipmake ZED with a 318kWh lithium-ion battery, Equipmake’s own HTM 3500 electric motor – producing 3,500 Nm torque at 1,000rpm and 400kW maximum power.

Over the last 12 months, Equipmake’s engineering team has put the new bus through an extensive durability programme in and around Norfolk, with thousands of test miles completed on proving grounds, city centres (including Norwich) and on motorways.

From the test programme, Equipmake estimates the new electric Agrale MT17.0LE will have a range of up to 150 miles (240km) – more than enough for a day’s use in Buenos Aires. When the battery is depleted at the end of a complete duty cycle, it can be recharged at the depot overnight via a CSS2 DC charging point.

The Equipmake ZED-powered Agrale MT17.0LE, a 12m single deck model capable of carrying 70 passengers, will be operated over the next 12 months by DOTA S.A., the largest bus operator in Buenos Aires. Following the successful completion of the trial, the objective is for mass manufacture to begin in Buenos Aires with Agrale and Todo Bus, using licenced Equipmake ZED technology.

Ian Foley, Managing Director of Equipmake, said: “On behalf of everyone at Equipmake I am delighted that, following the completion of final testing here in Norfolk, the Agrale MT17.0LE featuring our ZED system, now begins its journey to Buenos Aires for in-service trials. Through this innovative Advanced Propulsion Centre-funded project, we have worked closely with Agrale and Todo Bus along with other key partners, and the result is a state-of-the-art yet cost-effective bus.

“We are now looking forward to the start of the trial and the potential for this new vehicle is huge. Buenos Aires has around 16,000 buses on its streets – roughly twice the size of London’s fleet. There’s no doubt that electric buses can play a significant role in helping Argentina’s capital hit its 2050 net zero objective.”

Edson Martins, Commercial Director of Agrale, added: “We have been delighted to work with Equipmake on this project. Ian Foley and his team have been a natural choice, offering us a true one-stop solution, thanks to the company’s capabilities in every part of the electric vehicle drivetrain. Crucially Equipmake has been able to balance this innovation with low cost. Agrale is a leading provider of urban passenger transportation in Argentina, and with this new bus we will be able to build on our already strong position.

“We are looking forward to starting the trial in Buenos Aires in the coming months. Improving urban air quality is a global problem; we’re excited to be at the cutting edge of a solution.”