Are noisy, polluting buses coming to the end of the line?
Dandenong manufacturer Volgren unveiled four zero-emission electric buses rolling off its production line on 30 March.
And they rolled off near silently. Without the customary diesel engine noise, the only sounds are the rumbles of tyres and wind sweeping past the bus’s frame.
The Victorian-built buses with 87 per cent local content are touted as a milestone for a clean, green and local bus manufacturing industry.
They were on order from bus operator Transdev Australasia.
Transdev Australasia chief executive Luke Agati said Australia was “on the cusp of an e-mobility revolution in public transport”.
“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.”
Transdev – in partnership with Volgren – has so far delivered five new electric buses to Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
Mr Agati said supporting local jobs was a major factor in partnering with Volgren, which employs 172 Victorians directly and indirectly.
“Manufacturing future fleet in industry provides greater employment in our cities and regions, particularly for those with a disability or who are in priority job seeker groups.
“This is so important as we rebuild our economy post-Covid.”
Volgren chief executive Thiago Deiro says the company had made an “internal zero-emission transition” on the back of Transdev’s faith shown in Volgren.
In November 2019, Transdev bought and delivered Victoria’s first electric bus, which is now operating on the Melbourne metro network.
“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,” Mr Deiro said.
“All that learning resulted in a much more efficient design and building process.”
Mr Deiro said each electric bus used 80 Victorian suppliers equating to 87 per cent local production.
Australian Industry Group state head Tim Piper said there was cause for optimism in the emerging zero-emissions bus-making industry.
“We have an established bus manufacturing industry in Australia, with companies like Volgren which are internationally competitive and forward looking,” Mr 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.”