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Foton Mobility uses electric experience on new battery electric city bus

With years of global experience under its belt, Foton Mobility has used all of this knowledge on its new low floor battery electric city bus that’s set to hit the Australian market this year.

An increasing number of electric buses beginning to hit the Australian market means manufacturers need to find points of difference.

Foton Mobility is a new player in the local sector. The novel charging capabilities on its new low floor battery electric city bus makes its model unique.

“This new Foton electric bus includes a quick charging feature,” Foton Mobility national sales manager Greg Abel told ABC.

“Dual charging ports on the bus allows for complete charging in 90 minutes.

“Factor this in with our 240 kilowatt Charge Green charger that we sell and we can revolutionise the time it takes to charge electric buses.

“The premise behind this move is if we can reduce the charging time, it allows the bus to be available for longer periods throughout a day and reduces idle time.”

As a manufacturer of only zero-emissions buses, Foton Mobility’s background is different to other Australian manufacturers.

Without ties to a diesel legacy, Foton instead has a history of mass producing battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell heavy vehicles in China.

The Australian arm of Foton is bringing this expertise down under in the form of its new low floor battery electric bus.

It’s another step in the zero-emissions journey for Foton after first introducing a hydrogen city bus to Australia in 2021.

The hydrogen bus was followed by Foton’s first battery-electric logistics truck, the iBlue model, in mid-2022,.

Foton then expanded further with its low floor battery electric bus option.

“This new bus came to Australia in mid-2022 because Foton believes there’s a market in Australia for both hydrogen and electric buses,” Abel says.

“We thought the low floor was the best model to first bring out in our electric fleet.

“The bus then received full Australian Design Rule (ADR) approval in September. It’s now ready for the Australian market.”

Abel is one of the lucky few in Australia to have taken Foton’s new battery electric low floor bus on a drive.

Abel says the low floor model is a proven product that is simple and smooth to drive.

“I’m very keen to get the low floor battery electric bus out to operators on trials,” Abel says.

“The aesthetics and major components are similar to what we have in our FTH12 hydrogen fuel cell bus and it contains many features that make it attractive to operators.

“The way the bus drives and handles will surprise operators, as the build quality and pricing of the vehicle is very competitive.”

The components onboard the Foton electric bus carry familiar names. The ADR and Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) compliant model includes a DANA motor with 350 kilowatt hour CATL batteries, ZF axles and Bosch steering.


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A key part of Foton’s zero-emissions venture is its ability to forge partnerships with many members of the international bus and coach industry.

It currently partners with the likes of ZF, CATL and Toyota.

“We’re working with names that Australian operators are familiar with,” Abel says.

“Some industry members may not be familiar with our vehicle, but they’ll know the major parts fitted inside it and know that they can trust it as a proven product.”

Pair all of this with Foton’s five year or 400,000 kilometre complete warranty on the bus and an eight years or 640,000 kilometres warranty for the battery and it makes for an attractive proposition.

If the buses take off in Australia, the manufacturer is prepared for mass production. As a global company, Foton is familiar with fulfilling large orders to a high standard. It recently delivered 1100 electric low floor buses in Chile.

The Foton Group has more than 20 individual factories around the globe, giving it the capacity to build buses on a large scale.

“What we bring to the market is the experience we have with building these vehicles and their componentry,” Abel says.

“Our experience is more important than our size, but the size of our global group allows us to achieve any orders required due to the scope and scale of partnerships that we’ve made.”

For operators who have experienced Foton’s global electric offerings, Abel says this new electric city bus is similar to previous models, including the iBlue truck.

He says Foton remains consistent across all vehicles by following the same process when it comes to testing and build.

Abel says the aim is to limit the initial upfront cost for operators and minimise the total cost of ownership to help boost electric bus sales in Australia.

“This bus is a proven Foton vehicle with build numbers in the bank and operational kilometres on the board,” Abel says.

“We’re not using the Australian market as a testing ground – we’re bringing out a product that can hit the road in any operation.”

With operational experience, Abel knows that there is more to pleasing the Australian industry than just supplying a quality electric low floor bus.

He says providing service after the sale to ensure vehicles are kept on the road is just as important.

It’s why Foton Mobility has recently established a nation-wide service network for its vehicles.

 

Foton has also engaged in partnerships with prominent service agents to provide an extensive service department to specialise in aftersales care.

This includes local technicians working out of Foton’s head premises in New South Wales’s Smeaton Grange and numerous specialists from factories all around Australia who are trained to care for electric and hydrogen buses.

“Having this battery electric bus on the market was a high priority on our list so that we could show its reliability and build quality,” Abel says.

“It’s now about consolidating our products while continuing to engage in product development so that we can provide the best electric buses for the Australian market’s needs.”

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