First zero emission bus fleet for Leeds

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.

Simon Carlisle (centre), Ian Downie (left) Arron Dowie (right)
Simon Carlisle (centre), Ian Downie (left) Arron Dowie (right)

The nine Yutong E10 electric vehicles (EV) will be 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.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

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), including 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.

The 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 eight 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.”