EV fleet and battery storage specialist Zenobē will make its entry into the New Zealand market facilitated by a $20 million investment from New Zealand Green Investment Finance (NZGIF).
NZGIF is providing the finance facility to support Zenobē with the deployment of electric bus fleets under long-term lease agreements with major operators in New Zealand. A further $30 million is being held in reserve to support additional uptake, which NZGIF hopes sends a strong signal to the public transport sector that commercial, zero-emission solutions will be more accessible.
NZGIF Chief Executive Officer Craig Weise said he is pleased that NZGIF is enabling another first for the New Zealand market: “This deal brings Zenobē’s expertise in fleet electrification and putting together bespoke funding structures to New Zealand. With flexible rental contracts, operators can transition to battery electric vehicles, understand the operational changes required and then adapt and/or grow, minimising the usual level of risk.
“We are pleased with this deal for a number of reasons but particularly so as it is in the transport sector, which accounts for 21% of New Zealand’s annual greenhouse gas emissions and is the fastest growing source of emissions.”
New Zealand’s public transport bus fleet currently produces an estimated 155,000 tonnes of CO2-e per annum and the government has a target to decarbonise it by 2035. It is estimated that fewer than 5% of the 2,600 public buses in operation in New Zealand are electric.
With around 540 buses now contracted globally, Zenobē Co-Founder and Director Steven Meersman said that transport operators across the globe are realising the benefits of leasing batteries and outsourcing electrification to speed up and simplify delivery of zero-emission transport.
“We’re delighted to be able to work with NZGIF to bring this e-bus rental facility to New Zealand as we continue to see a shift to more sustainable transport solutions at the foundation of achieving net zero,” he said. “Through our work with major clients such as National Express, Stagecoach and Transit Systems, we have established ourselves as a reliable industry partner in making battery and fleet electrification services a reality.
“With our experience, capabilities, and award-winning software, we can lead our customers on the pathway to zero-emission transport at a rapid pace, with complete solutions from infrastructure installation, to financing and battery replacement. This means that operators can build a bespoke electrification solution based on their specific needs.”
The first assets to be financed will be a fleet of 18 e-buses, leased to one of New Zealand’s largest bus operators, Go-Bus Transport.
“As the leading passenger transport company in New Zealand, Go Bus has been at the forefront of electric bus development in the country with EV operations in both Auckland and Christchurch. With a total 34 battery electric buses in operation currently, and a further 16 to be ordered shortly, we place high value in suppliers who reduce the barriers and risks as we move through our transition to zero-emission buses,” said Calum Haslop, Go Bus CEO. “Our thanks go to Zenobē and NZGIF for the important part they played in our acquisition of 18 more e-buses for Christchurch.”
Zenobē Country Director for Australia and New Zealand Gareth Ridge added that the company is also in talks with a second major operator: “What’s particularly exciting about this announcement is that the facility we have agreed with NZGIF has the capacity to switch roughly 40 buses to electric. This initial project showcases just one element in our turnkey offering that de-risks and expedites the e-bus transition for fleet operators in New Zealand.
“With further capacity in the facility, we welcome conversations with operators of all sizes in New Zealand looking to reach their decarbonisation objectives and trial electric buses.”
Craig added: “The government has already announced that by 2025 it will only allow zero-emission public transport buses to be acquired. Those targets are approaching, and I know many operators will be looking at how to achieve that. NZGIF has the flexibility with terms and tenor to provide competitive and attractive finance options, and now we have the expertise from an experienced partner in Zenobē.
“We can help make the journey easier and welcome new projects into this facility, so come and talk to either Zenobē or ourselves for more information.”