'Way of the future'

Solar powered electric buses are the way of the future, according to NZ designers

'Way of the future'
‘Way of the future’

By Amie Hickland | September 25, 2013

Adelaide’s noted solar powered electric bus has been hailed as the way of the future by its designer, although cost has proved to be a major barrier.

The bus has been on the road for over five years, and many other operators are interested in the concept but unable to afford it.

New Zealand’s Designline General Manager Sales and Marketing Barry Jones says the concept of the bus came originated with the founder of the company some years ago.

Today, it is proving itself as cost efficient and environmentally friendly.

"The vehicle in Adelaide has enough battery to run for 180km without a charge," he says, adding this distance drops to 160km if the air-conditioning is continuously run.

The bus station in Adelaide has solar panels attached to the roof, which is where the majority of the energy is collected from. The bus is charged when it is necessary.

"The bus has some smaller panels on the roof that runs the small electronics on board," says Jones.

It took about two years to design and make, but he says this time would be easily reduced if more were made.

Designline worked together with operators Adelaide City Council to perfect the design, which Jones understands may be the only one of its kind in the world.

"It is the only solar powered bus in the world, as far as I know," he says.

The bus is 100 per cent electric and lets out no emissions whatsoever.

"They’re very into clean and green over there," he says.

"They’ll never put one drop of fuel in it. It all comes from the sun."

The bus has 70 per cent less moving parts than a standard diesel bus as there is no combustion engine.

Jones says the trend is catching on with other operators but there is one major issue – the cost.

"It’s not cheap. It costs twice as much as a normal diesel bus," he explains.

"People say they want it and then they look at the cost. Everyone talks the talk but they don’t walk the walk."

He says the costs are compensated over time as there is no need for fuel, and there is a lesser need for maintenance.

Despite this, Jones says the trend will catch on in the future.

"We’re using the sun, we’re using natural energy - you don’t buy any fuel," he says.

"I think it’s the way of the future."

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