Mellor unveils battery-electric Orion E23 and Maxima E23

Mellor Orion E23 electric minibus

Mellor has expanded its range of battery-electric minibuses with the Orion E23 (pictured) and the Maxima E23. Both are 23-passenger vehicles, making them eligible for government support in England via the Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme.

Each model is a development of Mellor’s existing portfolio. The Orion E23 is a 5,500kg GVW low-floor model that complements the existing zero-emission Orion E16 in Mellor’s range. It has a battery capacity of 92kW/h and delivers a claimed range of 200km, the manufacturer says.

The Maxima E23 is a high-floor model that has 80kW/h of onboard energy storage to deliver a range of 160km. It has a GVW of 7,200kg and, like the Orion E23, complies with PSVAR.

Fellow Woodall Nicholson subsidiary ProMech Technologies – which was established in February under the charge of the group’s Chief Technology Officer John Randerson – has been “instrumental” in the development of the Orion E23 and Maxima E23 through work on drivetrain integration and weight reduction, Mellor adds.

News of the two battery-electric additions follows Woodall Nicholson Bus Division Managing Director Mark Clissett’s earlier claims of what he calls “big bus bias” in the structure of ZEBRA through the £120m scheme’s exclusion of minibuses with a passenger capacity of less than 23.

Support for the “big bus bias” campaign from other parties continues to grow, with Mr Clissett saying that the market wants to see battery-electric minibuses that are eligible for government support. Mellor maintains that ZEBRA is “short sighted and restrictive.”

Adds Mr Clissett: “With significant investment, innovative engineering and a dedicated, highly skilled team of designers, engineers and technicians, we can offer a zero-emission solution on an already proven vehicle platform.

“The addition of full electric variants to our proven Orion and Maxima line-ups represents the organic development of our product range. We now have full electric, zero-emission buses to offer a size- and cost-appropriate solution for an increasing number of operators who are seeing their usual larger bus services become increasingly unviable.”

Orders for the Orion E23 and Maxima E23 are now being taken. Mellor says that deliveries are expected to commence in the summer.