With a largely diesel-heavy fleet and electric vehicle technology developing rapidly, NZ Bus needed to act quickly to be in a position to best meet the needs of future public transport users.
Thinking beyond the prevailing assumption that diesel hybrids provide the best transitional technology towards fully electric vehicles, NZ Bus’ commitment to innovation led to its decision to invest in Wrightspeed electric powertrain technology.
The Wrightspeed powertrain works by using electric motors (powered by batteries) to drive the wheels. The energy created by braking is converted to electricity, recharging the batteries on the go. When the batteries do run low, an on-board range extender (which could run on any fuel including biofuel, landfill gas and natural gas) kicks in. Once battery technology improves, the range extender can be removed to create a fully electric vehicle.
The Wrightspeed electric powertrain will be retrofitted to existing fleet, including diesel buses and trolley buses, enabling NZ Bus to maximise the life expectancy of these assets (which are carbon-intensive to manufacture) rather than prematurely scrapping any of them. The technology will also be fitted to any new fleet purchased as part of NZ Bus’ ongoing fleet replacement programme.
Investment in this technology will enable NZ Bus to lead a transition to electric-powered vehicles for public transport in New Zealand. Meanwhile it continues to consider other options for future-proofing its business.
NZ Bus is winner of the Renewables Innovation category and Energy Management category of the 2016 NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards