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Electric bus technology from Norfolk firm Equipmake to hit the road in 2018

Equipmake at Hethel Engineering Centre. Managing director Ian Foley. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Equipmake at Hethel Engineering Centre. Managing director Ian Foley. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Innovative technology for a fully electric bus – designed and produced in Norfolk – is set for its first road test in 2018.

Equipmake at Hethel Engineering Centre. Head technician Dave Garnham. Picture : ANTONY KELLY Equipmake at Hethel Engineering Centre. Head technician Dave Garnham. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Staff at electrical engineering firm Equipmake have been experimenting with battery technology capable of powering fully electric vehicles, with plans to sell the products to bus makers around the world.

In June the company received a £1.8m grant from the government’s office for low emissions vehicles (OLEV) to advance its research.

And now it is almost ready to hit the road, with the Argentinian bus builder with which it has partnered on the project expecting to have vehicles ready to take the technology by mid-2018.

Managing director Ian Foley said the project was progressing well. “We are already getting interest from other bus companies in different parts of the world,” he said.

Alongside this project, Equipmake is continuing to undertake research and development work for car manufacturers and is close to signing a deal with a European car maker to supply the motors for its electric vehicles.

Mr Foley said it was “another exploitation opportunity” for its novel developments.

He added that the company will have increased its staff from 16 to 20 by the end of the year, after hiring more designers and project managers to cope with its growing workload.

“We are finding there is more design work to do and we are getting to the stage where we need a dedicated project manager in other areas,” he said.

The company recently received an award from the RAC for its work with supercar maker Ariel, for whom it has also been developing electrical components. Mr Foley said the project was “ambitious”, with the award showing that the £1.2m-turnover company was “gaining recognition” in the industry.

For Mr Foley, who has previously worked on hybrid bus technology, research into technology for electric buses for the global market remains the company’s main focus.

The project complements stated aims by the government – reinforced in its industrial strategy white paper – to encourage innovation in and the implementation of more clean technologies to improve air quality and reduce energy consumption.

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