New Zealand's first fully battery-powered electric bus hits the road in Auckland today, servicing AUT's Northcote and Manukau campuses.
The 35-seater bus becomes part of AUT's fleet in a joint initiative between AUT, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) and the bus company, Tranzit Group.
As well as providing sustainable transport for hundreds of students every day, the bus will operate as a mobile research tool providing provide data to understand the economics and performance of electric buses on New Zealand roads.
The bus has 12 battery packs and a driving range of 180km.
EECA and Tranzit Group have paid $738,500 to cover the cost of upskilling engineers so the country's first electric bus could be developed and built locally, and of the charging infrastructure.
Kiwi Bus Builders in Tauranga built the body of the bus, and the electric engines and chassis were built by Times Electric Group in China.
Tranzit Group's managing director Paul Snelgrove said the project was an important step in the evolution of bus transport in New Zealand.
"There are more than 9500 large diesel buses in New Zealand and, to replace these with a greener fleet, we need to demonstrate the performance and viability of electric buses," he said.
As well as providing a sustainable transport option, AUT will be researching the potential impact of electric buses on the electricity grid and gathering other key information. This includes energy consumption, battery capacity, battery charging rate, duration and number of trips, mileage, average speed, charging duration and electricity consumption, regeneration and braking data.
In a nod to AUT's commitment to sustainability, the bus will be free to use for students and staff the first two weeks.