Bus Industry News, Charging Infrastructure, Electric Buses

Zenobē continues rapid progression down under

Zenobē was established in 2017 and has quickly grown as an EV fleet and battery storage specialist. In just over two years in Australia, Zenobē has already finished a milestone electric bus depot project that will have a lasting impact on the local industry.

It took only three years for Zenobē to emerge as a start-up EV fleet and battery storage specialist at its UK headquarters before expanding into Australia in 2020. 

In the three years since Zenobē’s expansion down under, it’s already played an integral role in one of the most groundbreaking projects seen in Australian bus and coach history.

Over the course of a year, Zenobē kick started the Leichhardt electric bus depot with operator Transit Systems. The project was completed in late 2022, in a clear example of how efficient and innovative Zenobē is as an electrification partner for fleet operators.

“We decided to move to Australia as there are strong similarities between operators and original equipment manufacturers  in both the UK and Australia,” Zenobē Country Director of Australia and New Zealand Gareth Ridge told ABC. “There are also similar legal frameworks and operating models we could work with.

“Our Leichhardt depot work has been our flagship project in Australia and still is today,.”

Zenobē was first founded when James Basden, Nicholas Beatty and Steven Meersman came together to create a business that initially focused on grid-scale battery storage to support the uptake of the renewable generation.

Soon after the trio had the opportunity to deploy battery storage at a UK Stagecoach bus depot in Guildford to support a limited grid connection.

Zenobē was able to complete the project in a short timeframe without the need for an expensive grid upgrade. Following this success, it diversified its offering, further developing its electric vehicle capabilities.

Since then, Zenobē’s mission has been to make clean power accessible to both the transport and energy industry.

Zenobē has since introduced a third business unit deploying second life batteries for construction, film sets and the events sector. This side of the business takes end-of-life batteries from electric buses and re-deploys them in second-life applications as either portable power units or back into bus depots to support grid connection.

By assigning a residual value to the electric batteries, Zenobē reduces the cost of batteries to its turnkey fleet customers, making electrification cheaper.

This expertise was soon transferred to Australia through Ridge and the local team, where Zenobē’s main project was to quickly increase the popularity and size of the business down under.

“Being on the ground, we could establish the business and focus on our first project – the Leichhardt depot electrification,” Ridge says.

“Our initial focus when Zenobē first started in Australia in 2020 was to get it contracted and built.

“Being the market leader in Australia and New Zealand, we’re now well positioned to make up about a quarter of the global Zenobē business in the next three to five years.”

RELATED ARTICLE: Zenobe and Ventura partner to deiiver largest all-electric bus depot in Australia

In just under three years, Zenobē has grown a team of 16 employees in Australia and New Zealand – its expected to double in size this year.

In Australia, Zenobē is using the Liechhardt project as an example of how it uses technology to support the electrification of bus fleets.

For Ridge, the Leichhardt depot is proof of the extraordinary developments that Zenobē can help forge for the Australian bus and coach industry.

The Leichhardt electric bus project holds 40 electric buses in a mixed fleet consisting of Nexport/ BYD buses as well as Yutong E12s.

Zenobē forged contracts with Transit Systems and Transport for NSW (TfNSW) while also entering into a joint venture with transmission utility group Transgrid to help electrify the depot.

When Zenobē then received $5 million worth of funding from ARENA, Ridge was certain Zenobē would be able to fulfil its goal of completing the project on a total cost neutral basis.

 Zenobē Australia and New Zealand country director Gareth Ridge

“This shows the market that we can electrify at scale without having much of an impact on the bottom line,” Ridge says. “What’s key to this is Zenobē’s software that manages all the assets, including the battery storage, smart chargers and solar energy, to minimise total costs for the operator while ensuring operational uptime.”

Ridge says Zenobē prides itself on being technology agnostic, allowing it to solve challenges that the industry faces. These can range from financial challenges that can be overcome through turnkey models to technical challenges that require practical troubleshooting and analysing the latest charging technology.

The company is looking to build momentum following the success of the Leichhardt depot. Ridge says Zenobē has a mandated goal to invest heavily in its Australian team to become a popular name in the local bus and coach industry.

“We’re looking to invest about a billion dollars into Australia and New Zealand in the next three years,” Ridge says.

“We see that there’s a big transition about to happen across our business units from electric vehicle fleets to grid-scale battery storage and second life batteries.

“We have numerous public projects underway and we have other projects that we’ll announce in the next month to get this period of growth underway.”

Currently Zenobē is funding the 12 new zero-emissions buses being introduced into the ACT.

In New Zealand, Ridge says his team is also funding 18 electric buses with GoBus in a move that has been backed by the New Zealand Green Investment Fund.

Ridge says Zenobē will apply its same process to all of these projects, starting with no-cost feasibility assessments before planning and designing the charging infrastructure.

From that, Zenobē structures a solution that meets customer needs before taking on the project management and delivery of the entire process.

When a project is delivered, Zenobē then provides maintenance and operational support for the charging infrastructure and smart charging software to ensure fleets are always ready to complete their dedicated routes.

“We offer around the clock support for all of our projects through local contracts with engineers who are on-call to support any requirements,” Ridge says. “We can use different chargers, batteries and vehicles and still support these requirements.”

In just over five years, Zenobē’s influence has grown remarkably. The evolution of its commercial models for operators allows Zenobē to be a leading electric transport service solution provider across the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

In the future, Ridge is excited for Zenobē to deploy a model that allows for pay per month or kilowatt hour arrangements with depots so that the business can handle everything in the electrification process.

“I couldn’t be more excited about what we’re embarking on,” Ridge says. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime transition to zero-emissions vehicles and we’re keen to grow and invest in our team locally.

“We’re most excited to work closely with the local industry to build a network of local partners as we work with customers to develop solutions that meet their needs.”

  1. Australian Truck Radio Listen Live
Send this to a friend