FOLLOWING a successful trial of its first Volgren-bodied BYD electric bus around the downtown streets of Melbourne, an additional four units to operator Transdev Australasia’s fleet are being added this week, the companies jointly announced.
With up to 87 per cent of content in Volgren e-buses being local, according to Australia’s largest bus manufacturer, the four zero-emission e-buses are rolling off the production line at Volgren in Dandenong, Victoria – which is, “…another milestone towards the development of a sustainable, long-term zero-emissions bus manufacturing industry in Australia,” the companies state.
Transdev Australasia CEO Luke Agati says the decision to manufacture the buses locally was an acknowledgement of the skill and expertise of Australia’s local bus manufacturing sector.
“Australia is on the cusp of an e-mobility revolution in public transport,” Agati said.
“For Transdev, it is our global experience paired with local ingenuity that is driving our charge towards the introduction of new zero-emissions fleets across our networks.
“We want to see more Australians travelling on zero-emissions electric and hydrogen-powered buses, and we want Australian bus manufacturers to lead the journey with us, so communities like Dandenong benefit through more investment in local businesses and more local jobs.”
Partnering with Volgren and local transport authorities, Transdev has to date delivered five new electric buses to Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane – retaining direct ownership of three vehicles.
Volgren’s chief executive officer Thiago Deiro says the company’s internal zero-emission transition owes much to Transdev and the faith it’s shown in Volgren.
“The first e-bus delivered to Transdev gave us the knowledge and know-how to adjust not only our product, but also our production facilities. All that learning resulted in a much more efficient design and building process,” Deiro said.
“Transdev is one of our key partners in Australia. We are extremely grateful for their trust, and we look forward to continued commercial and technical exchange between the two companies.”
Agati says supporting local jobs was a major factor in Transdev choosing to partner with Volgren, with the company employing 172 Victorians, both direct and indirectly, with more than 70 jobs also supported in NSW and Queensland.
Chair of the Industry Capability Network and Australian Industry Group’s Victorian head Tim Piper is optimistic about the outlook for zero-emissions bus manufacturing in Australia.
“We have an established bus manufacturing industry in Australia, with companies like Volgren which are internationally competitive and forward looking,” Piper said.
“The wave of investment in zero-emissions buses ahead can drive innovation and strengthen the local industry, creating much needed jobs and a range of opportunities to upskill the existing workforce.”
“Most of the zero-emission players active in the market are importing complete solutions from overseas. Volgren is a strong advocate of local content and local jobs; we build electric buses in Victoria using about 80 Victorian suppliers and are incredibly proud to retain 87 per cent proportion of local production,” he said.
“When you, as a government or private operator, buy Volgren you’re investing in Australia. You’re saying yes to local jobs.”
Agati adds that the local production of zero-emissions buses in Australia would create new opportunities as part of the manufacture process.
“Manufacturing future fleet[s] in industry provides greater employment in our cities and regions, particularly for those with a disability, or who are in priority Job Seeker groups, which is so important as we rebuild our economy post Covid,” he said.
In November, 2019, Transdev purchased and delivered Victoria’s first electric bus, which is now in route service within its Melbourne bus operations, operating on the PTV network, the operator confirms.
Zero emissions fleet:
- Transport industry accounts for 24 per cent of global CO2 (World Resource Institute, 2020);
- In Australia, transport accounts for 17 per cent of emissions (Climate Council, 2020);
- Most local jurisdictions are looking to introduce lower emissions bus fleet such as electric buses – various government announcements (published in ABC News);
- Average e-bus retails for approx. AUD$1M per vehicle, meaning this is an emerging market in Australia worth billions (Transdev insight and market intelligence);
- Life-cycle of a standard bus is approximately 20 years (Transdev insight and market intelligence).
Manufacture of electric buses:
According to Volgren (unless indicated):
- Zero-emissions buses are complex and labour intensive to build;
- Procuring through Australian manufacturers creates jobs:
- Up to 172 employed in production at Volgren in Dandenong, with production supporting 70 jobs in QLD and NSW;
- Approx. 80 local suppliers are used by Volgren;
- Up to 87 per cent of content in Volgren buses is local (Industry Capability Network (ICN).
Transdev says it believes public transport plays an important part in how a city comes to life. Its day-to-day work influences families, friends and future generations where they live, work and play, it states.
In Australasia, Transdev has 6,170 people passionate about operating its 2,010 vehicles and vessels, which deliver more than 160 million customer journeys each year, it confirms.
Photography: courtesy Transdev Australasia + Volgren