This is the largest order for electric buses in the UK, excluding the capital London. Leading the way is First Bus, which has awarded an order worth £81 million, for a total of 193 ebuses to manufacturer Wrightbus, scheduled to hit the roads in March 2023.
First Bus will invest £43 million in the new vehicles and will be supported to complete the electric fleet project with a £38 million grant from the Department of Transport.
The new EV buses will be built in Northern Ireland at the Wrightbus plant in Ballymena, providing a significant boost to the UK economy and manufacturing sector.
The tender will be divided among the following five areas: Leicester (68 buses) in partnership with Leicester City Council; York (44 buses) in partnership with City of York Council; Leeds (32 buses) in partnership with West Yorkshire Combined Authority; Norwich (15 buses) in partnership with Norfolk County Council; and Portsmouth (34 buses) in partnership with Portsmouth City Council & Hampshire County Council.
First Bus UK, Managing Director, Janette Bell, said: «We are absolutely delighted to place our largest ever Zero Emission Vehicle order and to do so with a UK manufacturer. Wrightbus have a really exciting product that we feel will enhance the customer experience at the same time as benefitting the environment. As leaders in sustainable mobility, we are fully aligned with the Government’s ambitions for a net-zero carbon transport system, including zero-emission bus fleets. We will continue to work closely with central and Local Government across the UK to support the delivery of our shared decarbonisation ambitions and commitments».
Ben Werth, Chief Commercial Officer at Wrightbus, said: «This is another significant deal for Wrightbus – we are delighted to once again be partnering with First Bus in the drive to zero-emission public transport. First Bus, like us, is consistently on the forefront of new and exciting technology and at the forefront of zero- and low-emission travel. All of the buses – the GB Kite Electroliner BEV and the StreetDeck Electroliner BEV, which is the world’s most efficient double decker battery-electric bus – will be manufactured and assembled at our Ballymena factory, which means support for jobs in NI, and wider across the UK through our domestic supply chain. This latest deal with First Bus strengthens the reputation we have forged in the zero-emission transport sector and will help play an important part in the UK’s ambitions for decarbonisation».
Transport Minister Charlotte Vere said: «It’s fantastic to see First Bus place the largest ever order of electric buses outside London, thanks to investment from our £270 million scheme. This marks a key stepping-stone towards our National Bus Strategy commitment of funding 4,000 zero-emissions buses, as we decarbonise and level up transport across the country. Not only does it drive forward our journey to Net Zero, but will also support hundreds of green, high-skilled jobs in the UK».