Hitachi ZeroCarbon Ltd. has partnered with FirstGroup plc to provide 1,000 electric batteries for electric buses operated by FirstGroup across the UK.
The collaboration, which is part of FirstGroup’s bus fleet and infrastructure decarbonisation programme, will provide batteries for First Bus’ expanding electric bus fleet, to help improve air quality, tackle congestion and improve customer experience.
Graham Sutherland, CEO, FirstGroup, said: “The pioneering alliance with Hitachi is a major strategic partnership for the Group as we progress towards our ambitious 2035 decarbonisation target for our bus fleet.
“It will allow us to continue the electrification of our fleet and depots with increased efficiency and greater visibility of our financial commitment, and unlike other possible arrangements, we will retain much of the residual value in the batteries as they are taken off our buses.”
Hitachi and FirstGroup have announced up to £10m each to support the acquisition of the batteries. Under the agreement, Hitachi ZeroCarbon will provide battery charging and management services for the 1,000 battery-powered buses, including a further commitment of 500 vehicles beyond 2026.
It is anticipated that taking 1,500 diesel buses off the road will save 84,675 tonnes of carbon emissions per year – which represents 677,400 tonnes of carbon emissions during the eight-year 2035 decarbonisation period.
FirstGroup hopes to use the batteries to optimise its bus battery efficiency and costs, thus resulting in longer-term cost savings by extending the batteries’ useful bus life beyond their initial eight-year OEM warranty periods, at zero lease cost.
Through smart charging, battery management and energy management, First Bus, one of the UK’s largest bus operators, likewise expects to see improved energy utilisation.
Previously, Hitachi Europe has supplied FirstGroup’s Caledonia depot with smart charging software and on-site carbon power generation.
FirstGroup has pledged to operate a zero-emission First Bus fleet by 2035.
Alistair Dormer, executive vice president and executive officer, general manager of green energy and mobility strategy planning division, Hitachi, said: “We continuously strive for growth through collaboration and co-creation with our partners and customers, and this specific partnership enables us to use our innovative technologies and global expertise to help decarbonise fleets efficiently, discover untapped revenue streams, and maximise the residual value of assets.
“I’m delighted we’ve successfully grown our existing relationship with FirstGroup, which will further add to our decarbonisation experience and combined learnings, in developing solutions for transport operators globally.”
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