UK’s Arrival unveils pre-production electric bus prototype

BANBURY, England, Nov. 18 (Reuters) – British electric van and bus maker Arrival unveiled a new electric bus prototype on Thursday that it hopes to start producing next year to sell for around the price of one conventional diesel bus.

The pre-production bus will begin to run on the roads over the next few weeks, with mass production expected to begin at a plant in the U.S. state of South Carolina in the second quarter.

During a tour of the bus for Reuters, company chairman Avinash Rugoobur pointed out that because the batteries are in the ground – some electric buses put them on the ceiling – the bus has a skylight all over it. the length of the vehicle. The bus is also low to the ground for easy access to passengers.

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The company uses lightweight but durable plastic composite body panels rather than steel or aluminum to reduce production costs.

Arrival’s system monitors every component of the vehicle in real time and can upgrade the software associated with any of them wirelessly, Rugoobur said.

“Knowing and understanding how the vehicle works in real time and being able to optimize it further reduces your fleet costs,” he said. “All this in a bus that is cheaper than any other electric bus and competitive with diesel. “

Depending on the market, electric buses can cost up to 50% more than a diesel equivalent.

The first prototype Arrived buses have already been tested with First Bus (FGP.L), one of the UK’s largest bus operators.

Arrival indicates that about 12% of the 64,000 vehicles for which it currently has non-binding orders or letters of intent are buses. Its South Carolina plant is expected to have an annual production capacity of 1,000 units, and executives say they will announce more plants soon.

The electric bus market is heating up as countries, states and cities move towards zero emission transportation.

Companies like Californian startup Proterra Inc (PTRA.O) compete with Chinese BYD Co Ltd (002594.SZ) or Volvo AB (VOLVb.ST). Switch Mobility, a UK unit of utility vehicle maker Ashok Leyland Ltd (ASOK.NS), announced this week that it will supply 300 electric buses to the public transport agency in the Indian city of Bengaluru. Read more

The US Congress just approved $ 1 trillion in infrastructure spending, including $ 5.25 billion for electric buses through 2026, eclipsing the $ 130 million the government spent on bus programs electric in 2020.

Mike Ableson, head of North American operations at Arrival, said the funding will help make electric buses more affordable for cash-strapped local authorities – but the company’s goal of producing a bus to zero emissions for the same price as a diesel bus will change that equation anyway.

“Transport agencies won’t have to worry about additional funding, they can just start buying electric buses instead of diesel buses,” Ableson said.

(This story corrects the annual production number to 1000 units in paragraph 9)

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Reporting by Nick Carey; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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