Nottingham charges ahead with more Optare electric buses

An order for 20 electric buses placed with Yorkshire bus maker Optare by Nottingham City Council will result in the city taking a lead in the introduction of this advanced technology into its public transport network with what is thought will be the largest free-running EV bus fleet in Europe.

Nottingham City Council already has eight Optare Solo EV models in daily use delivering a quieter, smoother and emissions-free travelling experience for passengers on its high frequency CentreLink and MediLink city centre services. They have proved highly popular with users and are contributing to the City’s ambitious target of achieving a reduction of 26% in carbon emissions by 2020 when compared with the levels in 2005.

Councillor Jane Urquhart, portfolio holder for Planning and Transportation at Nottingham City Council, said: “This is a welcome addition to our fleet of buses. We have award winning public transport in Nottingham and a strong commitment to the environment. These buses will help us to continue leading the way in efficient, greener transportation.”

The new order consolidates Optare’s position as the UK and Europe’s leading manufacturer of full-size, commercially viable battery-powered electric buses.

This status was confirmed in November last year when the company won the prestigious SMMT* Innovation Award for its Versa EV model and associated fast-charging technology. And it is further underlined by the successful operation of Optare electric buses in Nottingham, Durham, Coventry, Dorset and at Heathrow Airport.

Speaking following the award of the contract, Optare’s Deputy CEO, Glenn Saint, said: “This is a significant and important order for Optare which validates the commitment we made three years ago to take the lead in electric bus technology in the UK.

“The successful operation of our EV models in Nottingham and elsewhere has proved beyond doubt that this technology is both technically and commercially viable and that electric buses have a place in the public transport scene both here in Britain and around the world.”

This latest Nottingham order is for ten each of Optare’s Solo SR midibus model and the larger Versa model. Although the Nottingham specifications have yet to be finalised, the largest Solo SR model can carry up to 33 seated passengers plus standees and the largest version of Versa can carry up to 40 passengers plus standees.

Each of the new buses will be equipped with a rapid charge system allowing them to use charging stations being installed at the Queen’s Drive Park and Ride site on the outskirts of the city. This technology will allow ‘opportunity charging’ during lunchtime layovers in the schedule to enable their daily range to be effectively doubled.

Part of the financing for the new buses is coming from round three of the Government’s Green Bus Fund, which covers the additional cost of the electric driveline.

Initial purchase costs are further counteracted during the lifetime of each bus with savings of up to £8,000 a year on fuel alone, with daily recharging costs estimated at less than £10.00. Further savings will result from significantly reduced maintenance costs because of the relative simplicity and robustness of the electric propulsion system and from Road Fund Licence savings.