Optare, the market leader for
pure electric buses, has announced that it is well underway with a project that
will increase the range of its MetroCity and Solo EVs to 200 miles (322km
approx.) with no net weight gain and no intrusion into passenger space.
“This ongoing project will
double their range,” says Engineering Director Alastair Munro. “It is supported
by our parent company Ashok Leyland, which has phenomenal technical ability,
but at the moment the range extension project is managed by Optare,” he says.
Phase two of the plan will be
joint between the two companies, he says adding that “Much of the project is
how we match high-performance motors and transmissions. We are also looking at
battery technology, and how they are packaged.”
Munro adds that a key part of
extending the range of EVs is how on-bus heating is managed. “That can make a
huge difference to energy consumption, and part of the project is to engineer
things correctly to use energy in the best way possible,” he says, which may
extend to pre-heating the bus during its overnight charge and adding
Keeping whole-life costs low
is also a priority. “Almost anything is possible with an electric bus, but we
have to be realistic. We could fit very high-performance batteries, but they
would significantly increase the purchase price of the bus. It’s a balancing
act between weight, passenger capacity – and how much the operator is prepared
to spend,” he says.
Work to convert a demonstrator
and the first of six in-service Solo EVs to double their range has already
begun at the Sherburn-in-Elmet plant, with the last to be completed before
Munro also confirms that an
electric MetroDecker double-decker is expected to debut towards the end of
2016. It will retain the diesel version’s 18,000kg GVW and will not need to
take advantage of the forthcoming relaxation of the maximum weight for two-axle
PCVs to 19,500kg.