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Bus Search: Nexport develops electric innovations

With the most electric buses on the road in Australia, Nexport continues to focus on safety, investing in technology and developing world-class innovation for zero-emissions transportation

Following a successful first generation of zero-emissions buses that have hit Australian roads, Nexport is taking it to the next level. The bus and coach brand now has a range of four electric buses that have been updated to include the latest safety technology and innovative battery designs.

At the forefront of Nexport’s new generation offerings is its 7.5m smaller option. The completely new range in Nexport’s second iterations of electric buses allows the 7.5m version to be run for multiple applications.

“Our 7.5m bus is suited to pubs, clubs, hotels, motels, mining applications and inner-city driving,” Nexport sales director Steve Fisher told ABC. “It has a much smaller environmental footprint and is doing very well for smaller, on-demand transit services.

“It’s designed to help cover the last mile into the city transport.”

Fisher says that currently major Australian cities are seeing people not able to hop on buses due to them being full. He says the Nexport 7.5m second generation bus is ideal for this challenge, as it can be used as an on-demand service to alleviate the overcrowded issue. With a range of up to 300 kilometres when travelling at 100 kilometres per hour and 22 seats plus the driver, the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) compliant bus even has wheelchair access. The charge time for the unique model is only one to two hours.

“All buses we provide are DDA compliant across Australia, including wheelchair access,” Fisher says.

Following the 7.5m are three other models that have been revamped as part of the Nexport second generation zero-emissions buses. As part of the brand’s latest innovations, Nexport has moved its batteries from the roof of the bus and instead incorporated them into the chassis. Fisher says this has major benefits, both from a safety and an aesthetic perspective.

“We see the chassis as a much better place to locate the batteries,” Fisher says. “It gives us the chance to have additional features like solar panels on the roof that help with powering air-conditioning without taking away from the battery required to power the bus.”

These changes come as standard across the range. Alongside the flagship 12.5m standard city bus is a 10.6m and an 8.6m long bus that cater for varying applications and size requirements. With Australia being such a wide, open land, Fisher says these other sized buses come in handy for situations where the standard 12.5m city bus isn’t the right option for an application.

Fisher says Nexport currently has the most electric buses on the road in Australia out of any supplier in the market. This starts with the 12.5m version one range. The second generation of the bus now uses LFP battery chemistry (lithium iron phosphate), which Fisher says is the safest battery technology on the market for bus operations. Due to its thermal stability during all operating conditions and its long energy release, Fisher says the batteries have a much slower cell degradation of battery life compared to other models. This becomes important when customer buy assets that are designed to last a long time.

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The 12.5m model has the same specifications as the 10.6m and 8.6 options outside of seating capacity, range and battery. The 12.5m can travel for up to 600 kilometres on a single charge, with three types of batteries that can vary the range of the model. The 10.6m and 8.6m versions have a range of up to 350 kilometres, providing a variety of ideal products for operators.

Fisher says this technology, which includes a suite of incredible safety features as standard, is unparalleled in the Australian bus market.

“Our buses also include the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) suite of safety features as standard in all of our new models,” Fisher says. “In the past, everyone has had the ability to include this as an option, yet we’re now including it as standard in all of our products.

“Safety is a key priority and we’ll de-risk our technology by providing this as standard.”

What to look forward to in 2023

For Nexport, 2023 will give the brand a chance to continue promoting its new range of buses. It’ll also look to expand its portfolio in both the business to business and business to government markets. It’s new second generation fleet aims to develop the right products for Nexport’s customers, ready for Australian roads.

“It’s really exciting because we’re doing things that no one else is doing yet in the market,” Fisher told ABC. “A lot of people in the industry think this technology is still new and worry about the testing phase. We’re here to prove this is now no longer a risk.”

Fisher says Nexport is a zero-emissions bus brand. This means it isn’t just limiting its horizons to battery electric models. Currently the company may be focusing on electric vehicles, but Fisher says hydrogen fuel cell technology is definitely front and centre in Nexport’s thinking.

“Right now, when looking at approaches to city and metro applications, electric is the best option,” Fisher says. “When we have the opportunity to look at rural, country and long distance needs, then we will of course also look at hydrogen models.”

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