Leading electric bus manufacturer, Optare, has announced that it is well underway with a project that will increase the range of its MetroCity and Solo EVs to 200 miles with no net weight gain and no intrusion into passenger space.
This ongoing project is supported by the parent company, Ashok Leyland, which has technical ability, but at the moment the range extension project is managed by Optare. Phase two of the plan will be joint development between the two companies. Much of the project is how the company matches high-performance motors and transmissions. Company is also looking at battery technology, and how they are packaged.
Keeping whole-life costs low is also a priority. The electric bus maker says that almost anything is possible with an electric bus, but authorities have to be realistic. The company can fit very high-performance batteries, but those 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.
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 June. 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.