Ember: Edinburgh’s electric express

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On 1 October, new entrant to the inter-city market Ember launched its inaugural service between Dundee and Edinburgh. Jonathan Welch spoke to founders Pierce Glennie and Keith Bradbury about the new fully-electric service

After months of delays caused by the coronavirus outbreak, new entrant to the market – and the coaching world – Ember launched its service linking the cities of Dundee and Edinburgh quietly at the beginning of October.

Quietly in that there was no big launch event because of coronavirus restrictions, but also because this is a service which employs solely electric propulsion. No diesel or CNG engine here, no range-extending generator or hydrogen fuel cell. Just pure battery power, courtesy of a pair of smart dark grey Yutong TCe12 coaches delivered by Castleford-based Pelican Engineering and to full PSVAR specification.

Neither Keith nor Pierce has a background in the coach or bus industry, and their technology background is reinforced at their offices in central Edinburgh, in an office block used primarily by tech companies. By their own admission the two casually-dressed young entrepreneurs don’t look like typical bus industry people. Nor are they. “We worked together at a tech company,” Keith explained. “We were part of a small company which grew quickly into a much larger company. Between us we had experience across the whole business, including management experience. We wanted to start a business together, and considered a number of themes. One strong theme was around net-zero emissions. Now is the time to do something about emissions, there’s already been a lot of progress in cars, and we looked at what we could do with different vehicle types, including planes and hovercraft. We tried to assess which offered the most viable technology.”

Founders Keith and Pierce along with driver Mark Addison and local operations manager Gus Cameron. JONATHAN WELCH
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