Zeelo has moved forward with the deployment of trial battery-electric coach operation by its partner operators. The work forms part of the platform’s plans to have a zero-emission fleet in the UK and other developed markets by 2030.
The ‘taster’ approach was first announced in October 2022. Six operators have been chosen by Zeelo to be given the opportunity to trial a Yutong TCe12 battery-electric coach for a month each. Yutong supplier Pelican Bus and Coach is a member of a partnership in the delivery and support of such vehicles that also involves Zeelo and Zenobe. TCe12s are already used on a long-term basis by at least two Zeelo partners.
A UK-wide roadshow to demonstrate the ease of use of battery-electric vehicles to more of those businesses will be launched by the three parties, with that capturing the chance to trial a branded TCe12 on existing services. Such a feasibility exercise will allow assessment of battery-electric power and charging requirements. The six operators concerned are expected to be named soon by Zeelo.
The trials are part of Zeelo’s net zero strategy. It offers clients the option to upgrade to a fully electric service. CEO Sam Ryan says that the work with Pelican and Zenobe will “pave the way for a greener future of transport by transitioning our services incrementally to emission-free vehicles over the next seven years.”
Zenobe will provide portable charging for TCe12 visits to operators for the open trial. That infrastructure “provides a reliable electricity supply to sites where power is constrained.” Co-founder and Director Steve Meersman says that Zenobe is working “to find ways to overcome the challenges to coach fleet electrification in the long term.”
Adds Mr Meersman: “For many companies it is essential that there is an opportunity to ‘try before you buy’ – to run an electric service and experience the operational and commercial differences to diesel.
“By partnering with Pelican to deliver Zeelo’s open trial, we will provide coach and bus operators with the opportunity to trial electric vehicles within their own surroundings that will support them to make informed decisions as they transition to fleet electrification.”
Zenobe will also demonstrate its package of infrastructure, battery replacement and software to operators participating in the trial. That would be offered via “a competitively priced financing scheme, with no prohibitive up-front costs, should operators wish to transition to zero-emission fleets,” Zeelo adds.
By the end of 2022, battery-electric operation constituted 5% of Zeelo’s services. It is targeting that proportion as having reached 15% by the end of 2023.