Westway electrifies a Van Hool

Home Counties operator chooses Equipmake to repower its fleet, with the T917 promised to have 220 miles’ range

Westway, an early adopter of electric coaches, is having a Van Hool T917 repowered by Equipmake, the UK developer and manufacturer.

Having established its technology through multiple bus fleet repower agreements, Equipmake is expanding its electrification offering to the coach sector, collaborating with London-based Westway Coaches, which operates a wide range of luxury coaches.

The agreement will see Equipmake accelerate the electrification of Westway Coaches’ fleet by converting some of its existing diesel coaches to electric power with its drivetrain technology.

David West, Westway

The conversion of the Van Hool T917, has begun at Equipmake headquarters in Snetterton, Norfolk, and in-service prototype testing is set to begin in Q3 with the objective that further Westway vehicles are repowered over the coming months.

Featuring a 545 kWh battery pack, alongside an electric motor, inverter and efficiency-maximising HVAC system, all developed in-house, Equipmake’s Zero Emission Drivetrain (ZED) is expected to give the repowered Van Hool T917 a range of up to 220 miles.

David West, Managing Director at Westway Coaches, said: “Operating a state-of-the-art fleet that is both sustainable and socially responsible is core to Westway Coaches. We are very happy to be partnering with Equipmake, a leader in the electrification space.

“Its innovative technology will play a vital role in supporting our goal of running a zero-emission fleet, operating coaches powered solely by electricity. On behalf of all at Westway, I am looking forward to seeing our first repowered coach begin in-service prototype testing in Q3 and building on that with further repowered vehicles very quickly.”

Entirely scalable and modular, Equipmake’s ZED can be applied to any coach from single- to double-decker, with bespoke systems tailored to specific customer requirements, with routes simulated to ensure the optimum battery power level is selected to secure driving ranges of 180 to 220 miles.

Repowering is quick, says Equipmake. Once a first vehicle has been developed, further retrofits can be completed over the course of a few days, keeping a vehicle out of service for as little time as possible. Repowering is also cost-effective, coming in at less than half the price of a new electric coach.

Ian Foley, CEO, Equipmake, said: “We are delighted to expand our repower offering to the coach market with the agreement of our first coach partnership with Westway Coaches. Westway is already a sustainability innovator in the sector and Equipmake will be accelerating its transition to zero emissions, with the first vehicle already converted and more set to be upgraded in the coming months.

“Repowering is an important and cost-effective technology that bridges the gap between diesel and a new electric coach fleet. It upcycles a perfectly good vehicle in the most cost-effective way, making sense for any size of fleet, and solves the conundrum faced by operators who may only be part-way through the lifecycle of a vehicle, enabling them to transition without resorting to the financial burden of a new electric coach.”

With most coaches in service for 25 years or more, operators can make significant savings by repowering a vehicle halfway through its usable life. Switching to an electric powertrain has huge potential to reduce on-fleet running costs too, not just in terms of energy used but on servicing too, while Equipmake’s e-powertrain technology – which supports UK PLC with 76% British-built content – is ready today.

As infrastructure improves, electric coaches are natural candidates to take advantage of opportunity charging too. With vehicles often making a 30-minute stop in a motorway services, Equipmake sees 100kW fast-charging adding significant range in a short time, supplementing on-depot overnight charging where, adding further to the business case, an electric coach could present a Vehicle 2 Grid (V2G) opportunity too.

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