Chinese electric bus in mix for zero-emissions fleet

Ian Bushnell 1 July 2020 38
Yutong electric bus

The Chinese-built Yutong electric bus being trialled in Canberra at the Civic interchange. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

A Transport Canberra transition plan to zero-emission buses will be handed down in August, and the Chinese-made electric vehicle now being trialled is likely to be in the mix.

The Yutong Electric E12 bus was rolled out last November and has been running all over Canberra to more favourable reviews than the previous electric bus trialled in the ACT which had reliability issues.

Transport Minister Chris Steel today provided an update on the trial, reporting that the Yutong bus had so far covered 4600 kilometres and completed 400 hours of service, travelling between 160km and 400km per day. Charging time varies between one and seven hours depending on the state of charge at the end of each day.

”The feedback from drivers is that it’s very comfortable and smooth to drive and very quiet,” Mr Steel said.

It is based at the Tuggeranong depot for charging but the new Woden depot being constructed and due to come online next year will be able to support a large fleet of electric vehicles if electric buses are the preferred model recommended by the steering committee.

He said a zero-emissions steering group is working on the transition plan, which will decide on the mix of technologies required, including how many electric buses should be acquired in the short term with the infrastructure already available in the ACT, as well as the infrastructure required to support an entire fleet.

There is funding for 84 new buses over the next three years, but by 2025 diesel will not be an option.

The government expects the transition to be complete by 2040 to help meet the ACT’s zero-emissions goals.

”We’re looking forward to replacing every single bus in the ACT with a zero-emissions bus,” Mr Steel said.

The transition plan will also determine the skills needed to operate and maintain the fleet of buses here in Canberra, including training diesel mechanics to work on electric vehicles.

Mr Steel said running an electric fleet would be cheaper in the long term, and the unit costs were coming down over time.

The ACT has paid $122,000 to trial the Yutong, which has a range of 400 km, with options to extend the lease or buy at the end of the 12 month trial.

Mr Steel said Yutong was the world’s biggest bus maker and there were 16,000 Yutong electric buses running in Shenzhen.

”There are huge numbers of these buses being produced,” he said. ”There is no excuse for governments not to be thinking about transitioning their fleets to electric vehicles to reduce carbon emissions.”

He said using electric buses would also mean cleaner air, with diesel fumes and their dangerous particulates no longer being emitted into the atmosphere.

The steering group comprises former ACT Minister for Climate Change and Transport Simon Corbell, Dr Lachlan Blackhall from the Australian National University, Professor Peter Newman from Curtin University, and John Stewart from the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union.

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38 Responses to Chinese electric bus in mix for zero-emissions fleet
Capital Retro Capital Retro 5:22 pm 02 Jul 20

“There is 0 reason why these can’t be made in Australia. Stop getting them made by slave Labour in a communist dictorship with a disgusting human rights record the world has never seen before….”

Sounds like Victoria. Spelling especially.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:48 am 02 Jul 20

I don’t recall diesel powered buses ever being made entirely in Australia. There were a lot built in Brisbane over imported chassis and scuttles (this was the “bones” of the bus, engine and transmission). They were taken off ships in Sydney, fitted with an improvised seat and driven to Brisbane via the New England Highway with the driver totally exposed to the weather, usually wearing a leather coat and goggles. They were then fitted with custom bodies etc.
I have a friend whose father once drove a new tractor from Sydney to Goondiwindi – it took 3 days. That’s how things used to be done.

    JC JC 4:26 pm 02 Jul 20

    Bustech do make a model that is a full integral. Eg not a separate chassis and body but of course the major components like engine, gear box, axles etc are all imported. All with most of the materials it is built from.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 5:20 pm 02 Jul 20

    I think modern construction techniques have made the chassis redundant. It was replaced by monocoque and now integrated which seems a better way of describing it. Mack Trucks Australia used to have a large factory in Brisbane where they made Mack trucks and custom buses using Mack engines/power trains.

Byron Carn Byron Carn 3:12 am 02 Jul 20

People upset about a Chinese bus but forget to look at the tag on their t-shirt..

Elroy Jones Elroy Jones 10:39 pm 01 Jul 20

Who cares where they’re made?! Way to miss the point of the story

Nick Anderson Nick Anderson 9:58 pm 01 Jul 20

Terrific news, can’t wait to see the full results after the trial ends.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 8:59 pm 01 Jul 20

Actually an Australian initiative (with NZ input) created the world’s first solar bus in Adelaide. A similar thing was trialed in Brisbane. What isn’t said in this article is that they were prone to breakdowns and they eventually went to a better place.

    JC JC 4:24 pm 02 Jul 20

    Who made the solar panels, the electric motors the batteries and the electronic comments that went into the control system?

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:50 pm 02 Jul 20

    TIndo manufactured the solar panels in Adelaide. The recharging power came from the Tindo panels on the bus depot roof. More info here:

    I am sure the ACT government were aware of it but the EuroTram salesmen had already stitched them up.

Mary Nicholl Mary Nicholl 8:35 pm 01 Jul 20

Can’t Australia build buses? After all we are competing with states ie SA & WA build navel vessels Wake up 🇦🇺

Mary Nicholl Mary Nicholl 8:35 pm 01 Jul 20

Can’t we build buses in Australia after all WA&SA are competing to build navel vessels. Wake up Australia 🇦🇺

Chloe MH Chloe MH 5:42 pm 01 Jul 20

Mad about this not being sourced from within Australia? Hassle your local, State and Federal governments about funding green industry, so we can manufacture things like this here, providing much needed jobs in the covid-19 recovery period!

bj_ACT bj_ACT 4:50 pm 01 Jul 20

This sounds promising.

Now if a third of Canberra could get their local bus service back, it might even prove popular for commuters and get them out of their cars and back onto their bus.

Eddie Majcic Eddie Majcic 1:23 pm 01 Jul 20

You scream 'find an alternative' who? India? Only too glad.... But why is it not happening...

Eddie Majcic Eddie Majcic 1:21 pm 01 Jul 20

China are our biggest trading partner. That's the reality. Have you figured out what would happen to our GDP and stabdard of living if they stopped buying our raw materials? This country would really become a 'banana' republic. And in permanent recession.

Joel Aken Joel Aken 12:15 pm 01 Jul 20

ITT: People angry a bus is sourced from China where no Australian made option exists; ironically posting angry comments from smartphone made in Shenzhen..

Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:36 am 01 Jul 20

According to Yutong’s website, “zero emissions” means buses use electricity to power the battery. This means no internal combustion engine, no oil changes and no exhaust fumes.

Of course, most of China’s electricity is produced by coal-fired generators and last time I looked this isn’t emission free.

    JS9 JS9 2:15 pm 01 Jul 20

    So do tell CR – what products are out there that are anything but rudimentary in nature that don’t have some form of embedded emissions in their production.

    One step at a time towards a better future, one step at a time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and we won’t collectively as a jurisdiction, a country or indeed a world get to a lower emission outcome if we don’t start somewhere.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 4:52 pm 01 Jul 20

    It’s being bought because of “zero emissions” but noting that these buses will mostly be charged at night when there is zero solar power generation they will be far from “emission free”. And using “Rome wasn’t built in a day” as an analogy is a bad omen.

    JC JC 7:03 pm 01 Jul 20

    Hydro doesn’t stop when the sun goes down and nor does wind.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 8:52 pm 01 Jul 20

    It does when the water goes down and the wind doesn’t blow on cold, frosty nights.

    JC JC 4:22 pm 02 Jul 20

    When was the last time the snowy hydro stopped because it run out of water.

    Oh and coal powered fire stations stop when miners go on strike, or there are production issues or an accident on say the railway line through Maitland.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:05 pm 02 Jul 20

    The snowy hydro dams are rarely full. Eucumbene is currently about 30% and Blowering about 56%. A lot of the inflow so far this year has been from snowmelt and when the snow stops as the warmists insist it will the dams will go dry. I am sure there have been restrictions of electricity generation because of low water levels in the past but I can’t recall coal-fired power stations ever stopping because miners go on strike (it’s along time since one of those happened too). Which railway line through Maitland are you referring to? There are several – you need a trip to the Hunter Valley to get up to speed JC. Coal will thankfully be around for a long time yet.

Tony Jim Tony Jim 10:08 am 01 Jul 20

No Australian made buses available?

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 10:29 am 01 Jul 20

    Anthony Crocker there are no fully Australian made buses.

    Buses come as either an imported chassis and a local body is put on them, eg basically every Action bus we have already.

    Or they come fully imported as a complete unit.

    Electric buses are more complex as you cannot just stick a normal body on them so they are mostly fully complete units.

    There are a couple of local body builders who are working with electric bus suppliers, though of course all the electric parts are imported mostly from China.

    Daniel Oyston Daniel Oyston 10:44 am 01 Jul 20

    Anthony Crocker No. Consumer’s thirst for value is in direct contrast to their willingness to truly support Australian businesses.

    Andrew Wadey Andrew Wadey 10:51 am 01 Jul 20

    Anthony Crocker we don't even manufacture cars any more, I doubt there's enough of an industry to support manufacturing on this scale in Australia these days. Shame.

    Luke Carmody Luke Carmody 11:10 am 01 Jul 20

    There are in Adelade and Brisbane

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 12:50 pm 01 Jul 20

    Luke Carmody there are quite a few bus body manufacturers in this country. But as I said above they all build buses based on imported chassis.

    And when it comes to electric buses it gets a lot more complex. Volgren one of the big Australian bus body makers (which is now owned by a Brazilian company) has teamed up BYD to assemble Electric buses but the bulk of the bus is still Chinese.

    There isn’t much else. The Europeans haven’t got into it much nor the Americans.

    Neil Chandler Neil Chandler 5:45 pm 01 Jul 20

    Daniel Oyston not so much as there is no Australian product available... as Ashley Wright said, only bus bodies made here!

    Daniel Oyston Daniel Oyston 7:29 pm 01 Jul 20

    Neil Chandler and if there were, they’d still look for value (cheaper). Hence part of the reason you can’t buy a whole one here.

    Ian Anderson Ian Anderson 9:18 am 19 Sep 20

    Incorrect, there are a couple of bus manufacturers in Australia that produce vehicles completely inhouse, using imported powertrain and suspension. Currently it's not viable for one of the Australian manufacturers to build a fully electric bus completely, not enough demand and the cost of components is high. As demand for pure electric buses increases and the price of the electric drive systems comes down we will begin to see completely Australian built electric buses.

    As an aside, I find it slightly amusing that complaints of where the bus is made only appeared with this Chinese bus but not with the French, Swedeish, German or British buses Action has used in the past.

Brisal Brisal 9:12 am 01 Jul 20

What a pity we can’t manufacture our own buses here in Australia. But of course, making actual things is anathema isn’t it, much easier to dig stuff up and sell it then buy the value-added product that someone else is profiting from. I wonder if lithium mined here has returned in the form of the batteries in these buses.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 1:55 pm 01 Jul 20

    China is still a developing country and as a result she gets huge concessions on emissions until 2030. Go figure that.

    JC JC 4:52 pm 01 Jul 20

    We do make buses here. But all the electronics and technology is from China. And this is not just Australian issue, London has electric buses with the running gear from China.

    ABB who are European (think Swiss based) make an electric bus systems but think their technology it is closer to a trolley bus or tram than it is to a city bus with charging stations as opposed to charging in a depot and doing a shift on a full charge like the Chinese companies make.

Spiral Spiral 8:19 am 01 Jul 20

I have an idea.

Now that we have one, lets pull it apart, study it and build our own ones in Australia.

That way we send less money to China, help local industry and advance our country on the stolen technology of others.

China has no ethical issues about doing it to other countries so surely they can’t complain about us doing it to them.

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