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3 minute read - 8th September 2022

Wrightbus secures £81m electric bus order

First Bus has placed one of the UK’s largest electric bus orders with UK manufacturer Wrightbus. The order follows successful bids with local authorities, as part of the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Zero Emission Bus Regional Area (ZEBRA) funding scheme.

The £81m order, totalling 193 buses, is the largest EV bus purchase outside of London and will see new zero emission buses being rolled out across England from March 2023. First Bus will invest £43m in the new vehicles and will be supported to complete the electric fleet project with a £38m grant from the DfT.

First Bus has worked closely with five local authority partners to secure the funding, which helps to bridge the gap between the cost of a Euro VI diesel bus and the EV equivalent, as well as the relevant infrastructure costs necessary to charge the vehicles.

Wrightbus has secured an £81m electric bus order from FirstBus – the fleet will be manufactured at the Wrightbus factory in Ballymena / Picture: Wrightbus

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Each regional project will be completed over the course of the next two years. It means that First Bus will have over 500 EV buses in operation in what is a huge leap forward towards their pledge of an entirely zero emission fleet by 2035. The new EV buses will be fully built in Northern Ireland at the Wrightbus facility in Ballymena.

This latest partnership between First Bus and Wrightbus comes following the successful rollout of the world’s first double-decker hydrogen buses in Aberdeen in 2020. As one of the UK’s largest bus operators, First Bus will also work with the Ballymena-based bus builder to help upskill current and new engineers. This will allow First Bus and Wrightbus to create new green jobs, as well as enhancing skillsets for existing staff.

Ben Werth, chief commercial officer at Wrightbus, said: “This is another significant deal for Wrightbus – the largest zero emissions bus order outside of London – and 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.

“2022 has been a remarkable year for Wrightbus so far, as this deal comes after our recent, historic deals with the National Transport Authority (NTA), Australia and Germany. 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.”

Janette Bell, managing director, First Bus UK, added: “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.”

The order will be split between 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 the West Yorkshire Combined Authority
Norwich (15 buses) in partnership with Norfolk County Council
Portsmouth (34 buses) in partnership with Portsmouth City Council & Hampshire County Council

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