Optare has won the ‘Excellence in Technology’ category at this year’s National Transport Awards with its Versa EV electric bus incorporating fast charging technology.
It was the only bus manufacturer amongst the winners and fought off tough competition in its category from five finalists amongst which was Transport for London and two large regional Integrated Transport Authorities.
Deputy Chief Executive Officer Glenn Saint received the award at a glittering ceremony in London on Thursday 17 October hosted by broadcaster Jeremy Vine and attended by Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin MP, along with leading figures from the passenger transport industry.
Mr Saint said that he was delighted to receive the award on behalf of the team at Optare behind the company’s pioneering development of electric vehicle technology, which began in 2009. This is the third time that Optare has won an award for its EV technology. Last year it won the highly prestigious Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders Innovation Award and in 2010 its Solo EV model won a Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport Environmental Improvement award.
“Optare is leading the way in the development of full-size battery-powered buses in the UK and is the only company whose products are currently in service,” he said. “I believe that our electric buses are now beginning to make a significant mark on the UK public transport scene and as their use grows they will make a major contribution to cleaner and more sustainable public transport in the future.”
Bus passengers in Durham, Nottingham, Coventry, Poundbury and at Heathrow Airport are already experiencing the quiet and smooth ride provided by Optare electric buses. At the same time their use on revenue-earning services is proving that this technology is commercially viable as well as setting new environmental standards in public transport.
The model put forward by Optare for a National Transport Award is their Versa EV vehicle equipped with fast-charging technology to extend its daily range. The Versa EV is a full-size, single deck bus capable of carrying around 50 passengers, depending on seating configuration and the model is in service in Coventry with ten soon to enter service in Nottingham.
The continuing rise in oil prices is making the operation of such battery-powered buses increasingly viable. On the Optare Versa EV a full overnight charge at today’s electricity pricing figures costs less than £10 and on this basis an annual saving in fuel in the region of £8,000 per bus is achievable when compared with a diesel bus of equivalent size.
In addition the maintenance costs of the Optare Versa EV are lower and there are significant Road Fund Licence reductions. Electric propulsion also brings a number of cost-saving benefits in terms of vehicle reliability and durability.
The operational range is between 75 and 95 miles on a single overnight charge which takes around six hours from zero to full capacity, however, the development of fast charge systems now enables batteries to be fully replenished in under two hours. This allows for ‘opportunity charging’ to take place during the working day and effectively double the range, making the Versa EV viable across a much wider spread of public transport operations.
Full details of Optare’s range of award-winning electric buses can be found on the company’s website www.optare.com.