Equipmake will electrify Westway Coaches

Westway Coaches is looking to speed up the electrification process of its fleet. To that end, it is working with the British electric drive specialist Equipmake to retrofit its coaches with electric drives.

The system comprises a 545 kWh battery pack, an electric motor, an inverter and an efficiency-maximising HVAC system – all developed by Equipmake. After the retrofit, the bus will have a range of up to 220 miles – about 354 kilometres. The company unveiled its Ampere-220 electric axle drive. Designed for manufacturers of high-performance electric vehicles, it combines either one or two 220-kW motors with all power electronics, including silicon carbide inverters and gearboxes, in a single unit. The company also launched a next-gen silicon carbide inverter, which can deliver a step-change in the performance of electric vehicles.

“Repowering is an important and cost-effective technology that bridges the gap between diesel and a new electric coach fleet,” says Equipmake CEP Ian Foley. “It upcycles a perfectly good vehicle in the most cost-effective way, making sense for any size of fleet, and solves the conundrum faced by operators who may only be part-way through the lifecycle of a vehicle, enabling them to transition without resorting to the financial burden of a new electric coach.”

The coaches can be charged with 100 kW, so they can easily recharge its batteries during stops that are often 30 minutes or longer. Moreover, “an electric coach could present a Vehicle 2 Grid (V2G) opportunity, too,” says Equipmake.

The conversion of the first vehicle, a Van Hool T917, is already underway at the company’s headquarters in Snetterton, Norfolk. Prototype testing is scheduled to kick off in Q3 2023, after which more buses will be electrified.

According to Equipmake, the retrofit is not just cheaper than a new electric bus in many cases but also quicker. “Once a first vehicle has been developed, further retrofits can be completed over the course of a few days – against a year or more for the delivery of new electric coach,” the company writes in its press release.

It is not clear exactly how many vehicles will be converted. The Equipmake statement says that “a proportion of its existing diesel coaches” will be fitted with its “state-of-the-art drivetrain technology.”

This is the first order for the repowering of coaches for Equipmake. But the British company already has experience with the conversion of buses. In November, it fitted a double-decker with its electric drive system, following an order for 12 buses from York in October.



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