McGill’s announces £17.5m deal for all-electric buses

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The BYD ADL Enviro200 EV demonstrator was evaluated in February 2020. DAVID OAKLEY

A new vehicle order will take total investment by the Easdale family company to £50m since 2014

A £17.5million investment in all-electric buses has been announced by McGill’s, the UK’s largest independent bus operator.

A total of 35 buses have been ordered by the company, comprising 23 fully electric single-deck buses for McGill’s Johnstone to Glasgow route as well as 12 fully electric double-deck buses for Xplore Dundee. Xplore Dundee was acquired by McGill’s from National Express in December.

Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) is to supply 12 BYD ADL Enviro400EV double-decker buses, plus one single-decker BYD ADL Enviro200EV. Pelican Yutong will supply 22 Yutong E12 single-deckers with 422kWh batteries, which will be delivered in Q3 2021.

As part of its investment into the cleanest transport technology, McGill’s will also install new electrical charging infrastructure for its depots in Johnstone and Dundee.

The electric buses and infrastructure will be delivered in the second half of this year, in advance of the COP26 conference. McGill’s investment is aided by the Scottish Ultra Low Emission Bus Scheme.

In addition to the all-electric vehicles, McGill’s also announced that it is in advanced talks with a variety of partners to bring 12 hydrogen buses into the business in the next 12 months.

The new fleet purchase takes McGill’s capital investment since 2014 to more than £50million – around £40million of which has been spent on new vehicles.

Ralph Roberts, Chief Executive of McGill’s Group, said: “McGill’s is recognised for the exceptionally high standard of its fleet and we’re delighted to be making this new investment into electric vehicles.

“Customer and driver comfort is at the forefront of our specification and we are confident that bus users will enjoy the silence and comfort, safe in the knowledge that their already low-emission journeys are now zero-emission at the point of use, with the benefits that brings for air quality and the environment. We led the charge on introducing a clean diesel Euro VI fleet and by the end of 2021, the McGill’s Group will operate more electric buses than any other operator in Scotland.”

The company is owned by Scottish businessmen and investors Sandy and James Easdale, whose extensive portfolio includes commercial and residential property, transport, manufacturing and hospitality interests.

Sandy Easdale said: “The transport sector continues to be affected by the pandemic but this hasn’t dented our confidence in the business – far from it. When we purchased Xplore Dundee in December we promised we would continue to invest and this brings our expenditure to more than £50million over the past seven years. McGill’s has been built into such a successful brand by our willingness to spend and provide a quality service to passengers and this will continue.”

James Easdale said: “The last 18 months has seen Sandy and I announce construction projects worth more than £400m as well as the planned £20m redevelopment of the Watt Brothers store in Glasgow. Whilst we’ve been asked if our focus has shifted from transport to property, this deal for new vehicles demonstrates that McGill’s continues to be a key business for us and one which we will continue to grow in the years to come.”