First York begins trials with upgraded Versas

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The first Equipmake-repowered Versa is undergoing testing in York. EQUIPMAKE

A familiar bus is back on the streets of York as First York begins a passenger-carrying trial service following a complete upgrade of the vehicle’s electric power system. The electric Optare Versa is the first to be converted to a more modern electric drivetrain as part of a contract awarded to Norfolk-based electrification specialist Equipmake.

The bus is expected to have a range of 150 miles in all UK weather conditions, thanks to a larger battery and Equipmake’s HVAC system, extending the life of the existing zero-emission vehicle.

Tom Bridge, Operations Director of First Bus in North & West Yorkshire, said: “It’s great to see the bus back in service and we’re confident customers will enjoy the experience of an ultra-smooth, quiet ride and the benefit of zero-emission travel. This retrofit technology is another important step in our transition to achieving a fully electric fleet in York, continuing to help improve air quality in the city and supporting the goal of First Bus nationally to have a zero-emission fleet by 2035.”

The trial will last for four weeks and enable engineering teams at First York and Equipmake to evaluate its performance and make any final adjustments before the conversion of the remaining 11 vehicles takes place over the coming months.

Equipmake CEO Ian Foley commented: “We are delighted to have completed the conversion of this Optare Versa for First York, which features our state-of-the-art electric repower system. Knowledge gained from in-service trials will be used to inform the implementation of our pioneering technology in 12 of the buses in the fleet, fantastic news for passengers and the people of York, making a significant contribution to improving local air quality.”