Electric breakthrough nearing
According to Dr William Wright CBE of the Wrights Group, the next five years could see a real breakthrough for the viability of fully electric buses. Dr Wright made his comments following the entry into service of eight wirelessly-charged electric Wrightbus Streetlite EV vehicles in Milton Keynes.
Dr Wright said, ‘There is a parallel with the adoption of low floor accessible vehicles in the 1990s. Operators were initially reticent, but when evidence of rising patronage emerged, along with a reduction in the cost premium of vehicles as production volumes increased, low floor buses quickly became the norm. We sniffed out the market and were a good six months ahead of our competitors. Clearly the data from the Milton Keynes project will be crucial in proving the viability or otherwise of fully electric vehicles on what is a particularly demanding route. However I am optimistic for its prospects, particularly if broader automotive industry development of battery management systems continues at the right pace. I think the car manufacturers have an important role to play here, as customer demand will drive production volume.’
‘As always, it is down to giving operators scope to choose what best suits their particular operational needs and circumstances and how they want to approach the distance/batteries/passenger capacity equation. The drive technology is mature and already well proven, so I think the key challenge will be in the on going development of battery technology rather than the method by which the batteries are recharged. The potential is there and, with the right level of technological development and government support, I think electric buses could become a reality in many UK cities within the next decade.’