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Bus Search: Foton Mobility juggles new energy options

Foton Mobility has had a busy year spent releasing its two new zero-emissions bus options. It has hinted that it won’t slow its momentum as it heads optimistically into 2023.

Foton Mobility has grown its reach in Australia with the introduction of two zero-emissions bus options.

Now, on the cusp of 2023, the Australian-owned new-energy bus distributor is ready to promote its main offerings to the local market.

“We have two low-floor versions currently that are ready to hit the industry,” Foton Mobility national sales manager Greg Abel told ABC. “These are the two models here in Australia that have already received Australian Design Rule (ADR) approval.”

The two-model range for Foton Mobility begins in the hydrogen sector.

Abel says the low-floor hydrogen city bus was the first bus to arrive in Australia for Foton after being in the planning stages for quite some time.

After a series of test rides by the industry and recently receiving ADR certification, the 44+1 low floor city bus FTH12 model is ready for the Australian market, with the first two buses having already been sold to a major operator.

Complete with a SinoHytec Toyota TS60 fuel cell, the FTH12 hydrogen city bus has a hydrogen capacity of 25 kilograms and 150 kilowatt hours of battery storage.

Abel says the range for the model is between 400 and 500 kilometres, making it an attractive option for longer-haul operators around Australia.

“The hydrogen side comprises of eight hydrogen tanks onboard that provide approximately 25 kilograms of hydrogen,” Abel says. “It’s now been fully approved in Australia and complies with our rigid specifications.

“It’s been built for Australian conditions, and we know that it’ll operate in Australia’s varying climate and conditions.”

The FTH12 hydrogen city bus comes with the TS 60 (60 kilowatt) fuel cell containing the Toyota Fuel Stack, CATL batteries, ZF running gear and a Dana drive motor.

Abel says Foton Mobility has also put a lot of work into the warranty and after-sale side of the model.

“The warranty for the hydrogen city bus is very impressive,” he says.

“The complete vehicle warranty is a 60-month or 400,000 kilometre offer, whatever comes first. The fuel cell battery has an eight-year warranty, while the fuel cell itself has a five-year or 400,000 kilometre warranty for customers.

“For our hydrogen model in particular, receiving ADR approval for it is a major accomplishment for Foton.”

Yet the zero-emission bus distributor isn’t just limiting its green energy models to the hydrogen fuel-cell side of the equation. Following the introduction of the FTH12 hydrogen city bus, Foton Mobility also released a low-floor battery electric city bus as part of its product catalogue.

Abel says the battery electric bus model has similar specifications to the FTH12 hydrogen bus.

Both models have the same seating and standing capacity, as well as CATL batteries and ZF running gear. However, instead of having a Toyota fuel cell onboard, the electric option has 350 kilowatt hours of battery.

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Abel says the company estimates that the bus’s range sits around the 300km mark, while its seating and air-conditioning products are agnostic. This allows Foton Mobility to provide models for operators within the customer’s specifications.

Its warranty includes a 60 month or 400,000km option for the complete vehicle, including the drive motor. With the new models providing plenty of excitement for Foton heading into 2023, Abel says the company will be promoting both models equally in the market.

“We’ll be ensuring that we push both into the market immediately,” Abel says. “I believe there is a place in the market for both hydrogen fuel cell and battery electric buses.

“A lot of it will come down to the environment that operators work in and the location. We’ll push both very hard to ensure we provide the best fit for operators around Australia.”

What to look forward to in 2023

Foton Mobility stresses it won’t be limiting its fleet to just the two bus models for the immediate future. Abel is already teasing some exciting news for 2023 and beyond.

“Coming next year will be some different products that we’ve been looking at,” Abel told ABC. “Our current two models look similar and perform and ride impressively, so we may be adding more buses to those markets and heavily campaigning both.”

Abel says the Australian zero-emissions bus and coach distributor is looking to establish its existing vehicles in 2023.

After a crazy period spent releasing and promoting the two new energy options, Abel wants to see the buses find their niche in the local market. Having received the two vehicles’ ADR approval, Abel says he is finding it hard to curb his excitement for 2023.

“I see some wonderful developments in the hydrogen industry next year and I’m excited to see where it will take us,” Abel says. “As far as products from Foton Mobility go, it will be a case of watch this space for 2023.

“I can guarantee we’re certainly not going to rest with just our current vehicles. We’ll be looking at opportunities where we can grow our footprint – we believe we know where these opportunities lie and where we can maximise our value offering.”

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