First zero emission bus fleet for cleaner Leeds nearing completion

The first-ever zero emission bus fleet for Leeds is being prepared to enter service in a multi-million pound investment by First Bus in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leeds City Council.

The nine Yutong E10 electric vehicles (EV) are supplied by Pelican Coach & Bus, a family-owned engineering company based in Castleford which has a 100-year history in transport and is the exclusive distributor in the UK for the Chinese-made buses.

Electricity charging infrastructure for the fleet is nearing completion at First’s Hunslet Park depot in the city. The equipment and installation are being managed by Zenobe Energy, a tech start-up that entered the market four years ago and is already one of the largest independent owners and operators of battery storage, with some 160MW of contracted storage assets and around a 20 per cent market share of the EV bus sector.

A battery energy storage system (BESS) comprising two giant Tesla batteries – 390kW and 498kWh – will support the power requirements including fleet charging and grid services. The BESS is powered by the grid but returns electricity to support the grid when charging the buses.

Total investment in the fleet and infrastructure is £7.3m and includes £1.7m funding from the Department of Transport’s Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme (ULEB) which First West Yorkshire secured in 2019 with the support of the combined authority.

Simon Carlisle, Engineering Director of First West Yorkshire said: “This is the first phase of our plan to bring zero emission buses into our fleet operations to further benefit the cleaner air ambitions of Leeds. We have worked closely with our local authority partners and leaders in their fields in Pelican and Zenobe Energy to combine vehicle, battery and charging technology that heralds a new era in public transport from our Hunslet depot.”

He added: “The engineering team have embraced the challenges required for running electric vehicles compared to traditional combustion engine technology and I am immensely proud of what they have achieved so far.”

The Yutong E10 boasts innovative battery technology on-board which stores energy generated when applying the brakes. It also has fully electric air conditioning, seat-sited USB charging points and LED-powered headlights, indicators and interior lighting. The bus can travel 200 miles on a single charge and is estimated to save 45 tonnes of carbon a year compared to a Euro 6 diesel engine. *

Ian Downie, Pelican’s Head of Yutong Bus UK, said: “It is with great pleasure that we can deliver these state-of-the-art zero emission vehicles to First Bus. The passenger experience will be second to none, with smooth driving and quiet interiors. It is a real demonstration of First’s commitment to the environment that these vehicles will soon be in operation in Leeds.”

Zenobe Energy has agreed a contract using its infrastructure-as-a-service-model to provide support to First West Yorkshire. This includes match-funding the infrastructure and battery service costs for the life of vehicle, which has an 8-year warranty. Its Zenobe Management Platform proprietary software monitors and optimises all aspects of energy use on the buses and by the depot itself.

Business Development Director, Arron Dowie said: ““Zenobe is proud to be partnering with First West Yorkshire to support their active transition to a zero emission bus fleet. The electrification of buses is a vital part of producing cleaner air in Leeds. We are encouraged by First’s pioneering vision to implement environmentally friendly transport infrastructure across the UK and Zenobe is excited to be a part of their journey.”

The Yutong E10 buses are due to begin operating in October on the Service 5 Halton Moor Circular which includes the Leeds City Bus route through the city centre.

Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, said: “We have set out ambitious plans to tackle the climate emergency with a target of being net carbon zero by 2038 and changing the way we travel is central to achieving this aim. These nine electric buses are the first zero emission buses in West Yorkshire and an important first step towards a zero carbon public transport network.

“It’s more important than ever that we reduce emissions which impact on health by reducing unnecessary car journeys across the region. We are committed to working with our partner councils and bus operators to make bus travel greener and more attractive across West Yorkshire and these new buses will help achieve this.”

Leeds City Council’s executive board member for climate change, transport and sustainable development, Councillor Lisa Mulherin said: “I am delighted to see the first zero emission electric buses begin to be rolled out in Leeds. Over the next year I look forward to seeing more of these operating from our new 1,200 space Stourton solar-powered Park and Ride site. It will make more and more people’s journeys greener and enhance our efforts to keep the air cleaner in Leeds.  Re-building people’s confidence in using more environmentally friendly public transport is an important step toward achieving our carbon reduction targets and reducing polluting greenhouse gas emissions in Leeds.”

* Euro 6 LEB Compliant information from LOWCVP and Millbrook.