Electrification company Equipmake has opened a brand new factory in Snetterton, Norfolk, which will design and manufacture its fully-integrated electric bus chassis for an international customer base. Previously based in nearby Hethel, Equipmake says its business has grown rapidly over the last two years as bus companies around the world move towards electric vehicles (EVs). The new 1,500m2 purpose-built facility was officially opened by Liz Truss, Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade. Equipmake says its electric bus chassis allows any bus manufacturer to become a full electric bus manufacturer almost overnight, and the firm has partnerships with companies in Brazil, Argentina, and India. Its UK staff has grown from 15 employees to 52 in a little over two years.
Equipmake also develops proprietary technology in the shape of its compact, lightweight high performance ‘spoke’ electric motor, the APM200, which it says is one of the highest power/torque dense production automotive electric motor in the world, which will be used in the new Ebus chassis.
The EBus chassis development programme is a £7.5 million Advanced Propulsion Centre-funded project that has involved multiple partners led by Equipmake with grant funding designed to take the bus to production.
Equipmake has already entered the final testing phase of its singe decker EBus platform, with UK-based performance and durability development set to finish at the end of the year. In-service trials are then scheduled to begin in Q1 2020 by Brazilian commercial vehicle manufacturer, Agrale, which will launch the electric bus first in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2021. Equipmake intends to begin double-decker chassis trials in the near future.
Liz Truss, Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade, said: “I am delighted to open Equipmake’s new electric bus factory today. It’s fantastic to see world-leading technology produced here in Norfolk and the fact that these buses are being exported globally further underlines the depth of talent that exists along the A11 technology corridor.”
Ian Foley, Managing Director of Equipmake, said: “I am proud to open this facility and very grateful for the funding we have received from the UK Government through the APC. It has supported us in the design and development of a highly innovative and in-demand product, showing that a relatively small company from Norfolk can become a global technology leader.
“Manufacture of the powertrain will scale dramatically over the next few years and our target is 700 EBus chassis for South America alone in the first year of production. That is why our new bespoke facility here in Snetterton is so important – it is crucial to fulfilling requirements from international customers for both single and double-decker applications.”