Zero emission ‘the endgame’ for coach in the long term

Zero emission (ZE) will gain prominence in the coach industry in the 2020s, but on long-distance work it is reliant on the introduction of hydrogen fuel cell power.

That is the view of Richard Crump, MD of Pelican Bus and Coach. Pelican was the first supplier to bring a battery electric coach to the UK in the form of the Yutong TCe12. Mr Crump was speaking at the CoachMarque conference on Monday 13 January.

Pelican is seeing strong interest in the zero emission TCe12 coach beyond the two companies that have already committed, and more orders are likely soon. But Mr Crump points out that ZE coaches are currently only viable if operators can upsell the idea to their customers.

That’s because the additional overall costs of an electric coach currently “do not stack up” against a diesel’s, although energy charges are much lower.

“It’s about looking at clients and making up the shortfall there. An operator of an electric coach needs to explain to its customer that transport in a ZE vehicle costs more. But hirers who accept that are out there. An electric coach makes a statement about their company.”

Although currently ZE is at a cost disadvantage to diesel, Mr Crump makes the bold statement that within 10 years, each CoachMarque member in attendance on Monday will have an electric coach in its fleet.

“The new decade will be one of unprecedented change. There will be a different set of vehicle and operator criteria by 2029.”

Part of that will be thanks to politicians’ continuing failure to understand how clean Euro V diesel is, but Mr Crump adds that “anything other than ZE as the endgame is a stepping stone.”

In use with Westway Coaches, the TCe12 has delivered a range of up to 240 miles. No extension of the model’s 281kW/h energy capacity is planned until 2022, says Mr Crump. Pelican provides an eight-year battery warranty.