New e-bus starts testing in New Zealand

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New electric bus manufacturer Zemtec has announced the first trials of its recently completed new E-City battery-electric bus. Based in Albany, New Zealand, the bus features solar panels on the roof and has been designed for Australasian conditions.

The company said that whereas most electric buses are adaptations of diesel vehicles it believes that approach ‘misses the opportunity for a radical rethink of bus design and fails to maximise the benefit that modern EV technology is able to offer.’ At around 30% lighter than a diesel bus, this means the E-City can carry the same passenger load on two axles as opposed to the three axles required by a diesel of the same capacity in New Zealand. The maximum weight of the 12.5-metre bus is quoted as 16,000kg.

The frame of the bus is built from stainless steel, for strength and to eliminate concerns of corrosion. The interior is lined with bonded composite for added strength and fitted out with fire retarding materials. The composite tray, which forms the side walls and floor, means that exterior panelling from the waist rail down can be removed and the vehicle remains weatherproof, allowing for simple bolt off/on panels.

Major components are from well-known sources such as ZF and Wabco, whilst the batteries and associated systems are sourced from US-based XALT Energy. As standard, 235kWh of capacity will be installed, with an option to increase this to 310kWh. The ZF drive axle produces 150kW of power and 21,000Nm of torque.

Internally there is a completely flat, unobstructed non-slip floor from front to rear, LED lighting, and a headroom of 2,100mm in the aisle. Seats facing each other in the rear saloon are separated by modesty panels, and air-conditioning ducts are incorporated into the roof.

Sliding plug doors from Netherlands-based Ventura Systems provide minimal internal intrusion and allow for better placement of ticket readers.

The driver’s area is said to be a spacious, ergonomically designed work area surrounded by significant frame structure for added safety. Rear-view cameras, automatic interior/exterior lighting activation plus automatic wipers fitted with rain sensors reduce driver workload, and an uncluttered dashboard, with no high-level switch gear above the driver’s head, removes the possibility of excessive distraction.

Zemtec says it has invested heavily in tooling for body panels and glass to reduce manufacturing costs and will commit to supplying spare parts with minimal price margins, whilst spares for the ZF and Wabco systems are available through a number of suppliers and will not require any on-site programming. The company believes that the E-City’s lower energy consumption in conjunction with solar charging will greatly reduce energy costs.