First Bus partners with Equipmake to repower 12 first-generation electric buses

First Bus partners with Equipmake to repower 12 first-generation electric buses


First Bus is partnering with electrification specialist Equipmake to repower 12 of the operator’s first-generation electric buses in York. As one of the UK’s largest bus operators, First Bus has pledged to operate a full zero emission fleet by 2035.

Equipmake has been awarded the contract to convert the 12 First York electric Optare Versa buses using its electric drivetrain at the company’s base in Snetterton, Norfolk.

The company expects each converted bus to have a range of 150 miles in all UK weather conditions, thanks to a larger battery and a patented HVAC system, extending the life of existing zero-emissions public transport for the people of York.

Both single-deckers, such as the Versa, and double-deckers, can be repurposed to incorporate Equipmake’s unique, scalable, modular Zero Emission Drivetrain (ZED).

“Repowered buses represent a fantastic opportunity for operators to help accelerate the much-needed transition to sustainable mobility. Together with our new electric bus, the Jewel E, this technology can facilitate a significant reduction in air pollution across the country,” said Ian Foley, CEO, Equipmake.

“We are delighted that First Bus has chosen to implement our pioneering technology in 12 of the buses in its York Park & Ride fleet. This is great news for passengers and for the people of York, who can look forward to cleaner air in their city.”

Equipmake repowers are tailored to specific requirements provided by the operator, with service routes simulated to ensure the optimum battery power level is selected to secure driving ranges of 150 to 250 miles. This range is more than sufficient for a complete duty cycle, allowing buses to be recharged faster, overnight and operate for longer during the day.

The company’s repower programme has both environmental and cost benefits, with each conversion costing less than half the cost of a new electric bus. With most buses in service for 14 years or more, operators can make significant savings by repowering a bus halfway through its usable life.

first bus partners with electrification specialist equipmake

Equipmake is converting 12 York buses using its electric drivetrain.

Work is already underway on the first Versa conversion and, following the successful trial, 11 more buses will be repowered over the coming months, with delivery of the first vehicle scheduled for November this year.

“First Bus has repeatedly demonstrated its ambition to provide zero-emission transport in the local communities that we operate in,” said Garry Birmingham, Director for Decarbonisation at First Bus.

“The retrofitting of our older electric buses is another great example of how we can maximise the lifespan of a bus, beyond 15 years, and in addition, significantly reduce the embodied carbon associated with manufacturing new vehicles.

“These 12 repowered buses use a clever and cost-effective technology, which underlines our commitment to offer sustainable transport solutions. Nationally, First Bus is committed to delivering our zero-emission fleet goal, and First York’s partnership with Equipmake is a great example of how we can achieve this ambition.”

First Bus played a key role in helping to establish the York Park & Ride scheme, one of the most extensive in the UK. It offers affordable transportation into the city centre from six different parking locations, with buses carrying around 50,000 people every day and is already the biggest zero-emission Park & Ride operation in the country.