Big Lemon issues solar bus bonds

Brighton based operator, The Big Lemon, is issuing bonds to the public to fund the purchase of solar-powered buses.

The deal would offer a 5% return on a five-year investment. The operator won contracts in 2017 to operate six routes in Brighton and aims to be the first bus company in the UK to run its whole public bus network with electric vehicles. Last year the company won £0.5m funding from the DfT as part of the government’s Low Emission Bus Scheme to part-fund three brand-new electric buses. Its latest bid is to raise £405,000 to fund the rest of the cost. The three buses will be built by Optare and are due to enter service in the autumn.

It launched the UK’s first solar-powered bus last year. It currently has three electric vehicles recharged by solar panels, which are on the roof of its depot at Black Rock. The electric buses are powered by a 138kW battery system and electric motors built by Magtec in Sheffield. They are charged by a 21kWh solar array on the roof of the depot and the company says they can do approximately 100miles on one charge.

The Big Lemon recently embarked on a Solar Bus Challenge to see if its first solar-powered bus, given the name Om Shanti, can complete the full length of each route on its network, with passengers, on the official timetable, in one day, without running out of charge. It proved a success, with the vehicle covering all of the routes with 36% charge remaining.

The Big Lemon founder and Chief Executive, Tom Druitt, said: “The electric buses are really very good; quiet, comfortable and powerful on the hills, they have proved popular with drivers and passengers alike. We are out today to demonstrate the electric bus technology and learn how far we can push them. We are committed to running all our Brighton & Hove bus services with electric buses by the end of the year to tackle the terrible air quality issues in the city, and are calling on members of the public to get involved.”

The total investment in the vehicles will be £1,032,000, with the Magtec retrofit costing £114,000, the three Solos totalling £867,000 and the charging infrastructure priced at £51,000. The operator has already secured £114,000 from the Clean Bus Fund and £513,000 from the Low Emission Bus Scheme. It has launched a three-year bond at 4%, and a five-year bond at 5%. The minimum investment is £100, and interest will be paid annually. The buses will be offered as security on all investments. The closing date for applications is 30 April 2018.

To apply for the bond, visit:

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