First Bus and Hitachi Europe launch strategic partnership

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The partnership will support First Bus in its decarbonisation journey, facilitating the provision of 148 electric buses over the next 18 months to Caledonia depot

First Bus has selected Hitachi Europe as a prime strategic partner for the decarbonisation programme at its flagship Caledonia bus depot in Glasgow. The operator explained that the partnership will deliver an ‘as a service’ offering including bus batteries for First Glasgow’s electric vehicle (EV) fleet, smart charging software to manage EV charging, and a decarbonisation programme that will explore low carbon energy opportunities, with a view to First Bus eventually being able to generate and use its own electricity.

Hitachi Europe, a principal partner of COP26, and First Bus will also collaborate on a COP26 event ‘Together for our Planet’ that will take place at the Caledonia depot on 10 November.

Andrew Jarvis, Portfolio Managing Director, First Bus said, “As leaders in sustainable mobility, First Bus is keen to work with suppliers, partners, and stakeholders to support swift and significant changes in the bus market. This innovative and progressive partnership with Hitachi exemplifies that we aren’t just committed to meeting Government guidelines about sustainable energy, but that we’re eager to explore and create greener solutions for the future.”

Ram Ramachander, Chief Commercial Officer, SIB EMEA and Chief Digital Officer, Hitachi Europe, said, “Our partnership with First Bus marks a significant step for Hitachi in our goal to deliver zero carbon solutions to the mobility sector. We are immensely proud to be a part of this important deployment and look forward to helping First Bus deliver full fleet decarbonisation by 2035 and working together on wider sustainable technology innovations.”

Hitachi will offer ‘Battery as a Service’ provision for First Glasgow’s electric fleet. The batteries will be available on a subscription basis for the buses based at Caledonia depot. Hitachi will guarantee a minimum state of health for each battery, ensuring the operator can achieve the best possible performance throughout the life of the contract, and will also specify the optimum time to replace each battery.

Hitachi will also provide smart charging software, including telematics on the depot’s buses and electric charging points. The telematics will provide live status information on each charging point and their processes, enabling remote charging and the ability to tell which vehicles are connected to which charger.

This will provide the First Glasgow depot team with vehicles’ real-time information, allowing them to see how long each bus has left to charge until it is fully powered. The software should help to ensure that charging demand does not pull too much power from the grid at peak times, helping balance requirements and the costs of electricity.

A decarbonisation programme will also be launched, and First Bus and Hitachi Europe will collaboratively design low carbon technology such as solar panels and battery energy storage solutions for the site. This could lead to First Glasgow generating and consuming its own electricity as well as meeting local community environmental, social, and governance (ESG) needs by delivering zero-carbon charging hubs for other business fleet users.

As a Principal Partner of COP26, Hitachi Europe is working with First to deliver a ‘Together for our planet’ event at Caledonia depot. The event will include a virtual headset tour of the city and site, a drive-in cinema that will show a documentary on the history of public transport that guests can watch while they charge their vehicles, guest speakers from the transport, energy, and climate industries.

Andrew Jarvis, Portfolio Managing Director, First Bus, and Mike Nugent, Head of Intelligent Fleet Decarbonisation, Hitachi Social Innovation Business (EMEA). FIRST