Zero Emission Coach Taskforce: Moving on to solutions

Phase one of ZECT is now complete. CPT will now launch a report which outlines the barriers between the coach sector and destination zero

The transition to a zero-emission (ZE) fleet is both necessary and very difficult to achieve. That’s why we established the Zero Emission Coach Taskforce (ZECT) last December, bringing together key industry experts, including coach operators and manufacturers, infrastructure and finance providers, and government observers to identify the challenges to decarbonising our coach fleet, supported by industry evidence.

I am pleased to confirm that phase one of ZECT is now complete, and we will be launching a report shortly which outlines the barriers identified by the Taskforce that currently stand between the coach sector and destination zero.

The most significant challenge is the current lack of certainty over which ZE technology will be most suitable for operators – is the sector looking at battery-electric or hydrogen fuel cell-electric powered vehicles, or a combination of both? This lack of clarity has resulted in hesitancy, preventing the sector from moving forward, as well as multiple additional challenges.

The few ZE coaches that are currently available on the market do not achieve the range required to enable operators to confidently deliver the wide multitude of services they provide.

The absence of data on how the coach sector operates is making it difficult for manufacturers to begin developing the ZE solutions the sector needs, across a global market.

Operationally, additional training could be required for both drivers and workshop staff to ensure the new vehicles are operated, refuelled/recharged, and maintained efficiently and safely.

And that’s just the vehicles. Regardless of technology, these new ZE vehicles will need a reliable network of recharging/ refuelling infrastructure to reduce range anxiety and moveable solutions are needed for installation at operator depots.

All of these come with a hefty price tag. ZE coaches are significantly more expensive than their diesel counterparts and require additional investment in supporting infrastructure; this, coupled with the unknown residual value, makes developing a business case that is affordable extremely difficult.

So you can see our work here is far from done, and I am delighted to confirm that, using the above barriers identified in our report, ZECT will shortly commence phase two of the project and begin identifying possible solutions and opportunities for collaboration with other key stakeholders that will enable the sector to begin decarbonising.

This work will begin with specifying what the ZE coach of the future needs to deliver, which we hope will provide coach manufacturers with the much-needed data on the coach sector to be able to progress development.

I have been truly impressed with the level of engagement, collaboration and enthusiasm shown by the members of the Taskforce and I am certain it will continue as we enter phase two of this project. We can no longer continue to operate in silos, as separate entities; if we are to achieve the ambitious target set out before us, it will require aligned and innovative thinking. It is a fascinating and challenging time, and I am very excited to see what will come out of the next work phase of the taskforce.