Banbury, UK-On Thursday, British electric truck and bus manufacturer Arrival launched a new electric bus prototype, hoping to start production next year, priced at about the price of a traditional diesel bus.
The trial production bus will begin to run on the road in the next few weeks, and mass production will begin at a plant in South Carolina in the second quarter.
When touring the bus ReutersThe company’s president, Avinash Rugoobur, emphasized the fact that because the battery is on the floor — some electric buses put them on the ceiling — the bus has a skylight that can run through the length of the vehicle. The bus is also low to the ground, making it easy for passengers to enter.
The company uses lightweight but durable plastic composite body panels instead of steel or aluminum to reduce production costs.
Rugoobur said that Arrival’s system monitors each vehicle component in real time and can wirelessly upgrade the software associated with any of them.
“Understand and understand how the vehicle operates in real time, and can be optimized to further reduce the cost of your fleet,” he said. “All of this happened on a bus that was cheaper than any other electric bus and competed with diesel engines.”
Depending on the market, the cost of an electric bus may be 50% higher than that of an equivalent diesel bus.
Arrival’s early prototype buses have been tested with First Bus, one of the largest bus operators in the UK.
Arrival said that of the 64,000 vehicles it currently has non-binding orders or letters of intent, approximately 12% are buses. Its South Carolina plant should have an annual production capacity of 10,000 vehicles, and executives said they will announce more plants soon.
As countries, states and cities promote zero-emission transportation, the electric bus market is heating up.
Companies such as California startup Proterra are competing with China’s BYD or Volvo AB. Switch Mobility, the British subsidiary of commercial vehicle manufacturer Ashok Leyland, said this week that it will provide 300 electric buses to the public transport agency in Bangalore, India.
The US Congress has just approved $1 trillion in infrastructure spending, including $5.25 billion for electric buses by 2026, dwarfing the government’s $130 million for electric bus projects in 2020.
Mike Ableson, head of Arrival’s North American operations, said that funding will help make electric buses more affordable for local authorities that are short of funds – but the company’s goal of producing zero-emission buses will change this equation anyway.
“Transportation agencies don’t have to worry about additional funds, they will be able to start buying electric buses instead of diesel buses,” Ableson said.