Nottingham boosts EV fleet

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When the 20 Solos are delivered, Nottingham may have the largest freerunning EV bus fleet in Europe
When the 20 Solos are delivered, Nottingham may have the largest free-running EV bus fleet in Europe

The 20 new vehicles join the eight Solo EVs already in service in the city

An order for 20 Optare electric buses from Nottingham City Council (NCC) means the city is taking a lead in the introduction of this advanced technology into its public transport network. It is believed Nottingham will have the largest free-running EV bus fleet in Europe.

NCC already has eight Optare Solo EVs in daily operation delivering a quieter, smoother and emissions-free travelling experience for passengers on its high frequency CentreLink and MediLink city centre services. They have proved highly popular with users and are contributing to the City’s ambitious target of achieving a reduction of 26% in carbon emissions by 2020 when compared with the levels in 2005.

Councillor Jane Urquhart, portfolio holder for Planning and Transportation at NCCl, said: “This is a welcome addition to our fleet of buses. We have award winning public transport in Nottingham and a strong commitment to the environment. These buses will help us to continue leading the way in efficient, greener transportation.”

The new order consolidates Optare’s position as the UK and Europe’s leading manufacturer of full-size, commercially viable battery-powered electric buses.

This status was confirmed in November last year when the company won the prestigious SMMT Innovation Award for its Versa EV model and associated fastcharging technology and is further underlined by successful operation of Solo EVs in Nottingham, Durham, Coventry, Dorset and at Heathrow Airport.

Optare’s Deputy CEO, Glenn Saint, said: “This is a significant and important order for Optare which validates the commitment we made three years ago to take the lead in electric bus technology in the UK.

“The successful operation of our EV models in Nottingham and elsewhere has proved beyond doubt this technology is both technically and commercially viable and electric buses have a place in the public transport scene both here in Britain and around the world.”

The NCC order is for 10 each of Optare’s Solo SR midibus model and the larger Versa model. Although the Nottingham specifications have yet to be finalised, the largest Solo SR model can carry up to 33 seated passengers plus standees and the largest version of Versa can carry up to 40 passengers plus standees.

Each bus will be equipped with a rapid charge system allowing the use of charging stations installed at the Queen’s Drive Park and Ride site on the outskirts of the city. This technology allows ‘opportunity charging’ during lunchtime layovers in the schedule to enable their daily range to be effectively doubled. Part of the financing for the new buses is coming from round three of the Government’s Green Bus Fund, which covers the additional cost of the electric driveline.

Initial purchase costs are further counteracted during the lifetime of each bus with savings of up to £8,000 a year on fuel alone, with daily recharging costs estimated at less than £10.00. Further savings will result from significantly reduced maintenance costs because of the relative simplicity and robustness of the electric propulsion system and from Road Fund Licence savings.