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Route One: Kleanbus debuts battery-electric repower on Optare Solo

Kleanbus has completed the first battery-electric retrofit of a diesel bus. It is a 2007 Optare Solo that is now under test. The supplier says that pilot trials are also being entered into with key operators as it sees momentum “building rapidly” around its repower proposition.

Debut of the prototype installation represents completion of the first Kleanbus “advanced modular electric platform,” details of which were first shared in 2022. The supplier says that is combines battery-electric powertrain components from Tier 1 suppliers with its own integration technology and proprietary software.

Kleanbus Co-Founder and CEO Joe Tighe says that the repower application in the Solo prototype has 280kW/h of battery capacity. It comes with a dual-motor solution from Advanced Electric Machines that connects to the existing differential.

Mr Tighe adds that the Kleanbus drivetrain is presently compatible only with DC charging. “The industry is moving that way as power and charging speeds increase,” he explains. Customers will have the option to specify AC charging as well if required for an extra cost.

The Kleanbus drivetrain can utilise a variety of batteries and motors to create “purpose-built e-powertrains tailored exactly to suit a bus operator’s needs,” Kleanbus says. Its work around that includes a base vehicle evaluation and analysis of the customer’s duty cycles that leads to the modelling and validation of a conceptual drivetrain.

Battery electric Optare Solo that has been repowered by Kleanbus

Optare Solo that represents the first prototype of the Kleanbus battery-electric driveline has 280kW/h of battery capacity, the supplier says

Once prototypes have been tested and validated, it takes “less than two weeks to repower an individual bus,” the supplier claims.

It adds that operating costs of a battery-electric repower are “a third” of a comparable diesel.

The supplier has also revealed details of engagement with finance providers that will enable operators to utilise multiple ways in which to pay for the repower work. Kleanbus says that those mechanisms can range from paying for the vehicle upfront and leasing the batteries, to paying nothing upfront and leasing both the vehicle and the batteries.

Kleanbus is also working with charging providers to arrange for depots to be upgraded with the appropriate infrastructure. Those added-value aspects will enable operators “to go electric without having to contact third parties – effectively offering a one-stop shop,” the supplier says.

Speaking about the latest development, Mr Tighe says: “Momentum is building rapidly with the completion of our ‘e-drivetrain in a box’, and the installation of this modular platform system into our first prototype. We are excited to accelerate our prototype testing programme, with pilot trials also starting this month with two bus operators.

“Leveraging the latest in proven components from leading Tier 1s, our technology-agnostic solution enables us to create an adaptable system that can convert a diesel bus into a state-of-the-art zero-emission vehicle quickly and cost-effectively.”

By routeone Team -January 12, 2023

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