Cost Effective BEV Bus Targets Latin American Expansion

Choosing to showcase a new electric bus at a conference for mayors of the world could be seen as marketing masterstroke for the Agrale BEV bus.

The Agrale MT17.0 LEe, now starting commercial operations in Buenos Aires, debuted at the C40 World Mayors Conference in the Argentine capital which brought together mayors from around the world, as well as leading decision makers, with the objective of showing public transport sustainability solutions. Having committed to halving its carbon emissions by 2030 and becoming completely carbon neutral by 2050, Buenos Aires sees electric buses as playing a crucial role in supporting its climate commitments.

The Equipmake-powered bus is a 12 meter (39ft) single deck model capable of carrying 70 passengers and will be operated for the next 12 months by DOTA S.A., the largest bus operator in the city. Its drivetrain has been developed as part of the Advanced Propulsion Centre-funded CELEB (Cost Effective Low Entry Bus) project, in which Equipmake has led multiple international partners over the last three years, with the objective being to deliver a cost-effective bus designed for the South American market.

The new vehicle features a bespoke Equipmake ZED with a 318kWh lithium-ion battery, Equipmake’s own HTM 3500 electric motor, producing 2,581ft-lbs of torque at 1,000rpm and a maximum power of 400kW (536bhp) integrated into the prop shaft, without the need for a separate transmission, and the Semikron SKAI inverter.

The maker claims the bus will have a range of up to 150 miles, more than enough for a day’s use in Buenos Aires. When the battery is depleted at the end of a complete duty cycle it can be recharged in the depot overnight via a CSS2 DC charging point.

Following the successful completion of the test, the objective is for mass manufacturing to begin in Buenos Aires with Agrale and Todo Bus, using the licensed Equipmake ZED technology, with the wider ambition of bringing state-of-the-art electrification to other South American countries. Ian Foley, CEO of Equipmake, said: “Through this Advanced Propulsion Centre-funded project, we have worked closely with Agrale along with other key partners, and the result is a state-of-the-art yet cost-effective bus. Its potential is huge. Buenos Aires has around 16,000 buses alone and electric buses can play a key role in helping the city hit its targets of halving carbon emissions by 2030 and achieving net zero by 2050.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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