Versa bus with Equipmake1

First York begins passenger-carrying trial with upgraded electric bus

  • Passenger-carrying trial underway with converted Optare Versa bus
  • Bus to operate on services 68 and 11
  • 12 buses expected to be back in operation in coming months
  • Equipmake’s patented HVAC system will have a guaranteed range of 150 miles in all UK weather conditions  for the upgraded York fleet

A familiar bus is back on the streets of York from this week as operator First York begins a passenger-carrying trial service following a complete upgrade of the vehicle’s electric power system.

The Optare Versa, an early generation electric bus, is the first to be converted in a contract awarded to Equipmake Holdings plc (Equipmake), a leading electrification specialist based in Norfolk.

The bus now features a pioneering electric drivetrain and is expected to have a range of 150 miles in all UK weather conditions, thanks to a larger battery and Equipmake’s patented HVAC system, extending the life of existing zero-emissions public transport for the people of York.

Tom Bridge, Operations Director of First Bus in North & West Yorkshire, said: “It’s great to see the bus back in service and we’re confident customers will enjoy the experience of an ultra-smooth, quiet ride and the benefit of zero-emission travel.

“This retrofit technology is another important step in our transition to achieving a fully electric fleet in York, continuing to help improve air quality in the city and supporting the goal of First Bus nationally to have a zero-emission fleet by 2035.”

The Optare Versa trial will last for 4 weeks, operating on the 68 service to the University of York this week and the Burnholme-Bishopthorpe 11 service from 20 March. This will enable engineering teams at First York and Equipmake to evaluate its performance and make any final adjustments.

It is anticipated the total of 12 converted vehicles will be delivered over the coming months.

Equipmake repowers are tailored to specific requirements provided by the operator, with service routes simulated to ensure the optimum battery power level is selected to secure driving ranges of 150 to 250 miles. This range is more than sufficient for a complete duty cycle, allowing buses to be recharged faster, overnight and operate for longer during the day.

Ian Foley, CEO, Equipmake, said: “We are delighted to have completed the conversion of this Optare Versa for First York, which features our state-of-the-art electric repower system.

“Knowledge gained from in-service trials will be used to inform the implementation of our pioneering technology in 12 of the buses in the fleet, fantastic news for passengers and the people of York, making a significant contribution to improving local air quality.”




Notes to editors

About First Bus

First Bus is one of the UK’s largest bus operators. Making journeys easier for our customers, we were the first national bus operator to accept contactless card payments across all of our services and our First Bus App is voted ‘best in class’ amongst UK bus operators. Our most recent investments are in new, state-of-the-art buses across our key networks.

We work proactively with our local authority partners, making a positive impact on air quality, tackling congestion and improving customer experience. We are focused on First Bus becoming a leader in the transition to a low-carbon future and are committed to operating a zero-emission bus fleet by 2035; we have pledged not to purchase any new diesel buses after December 2022. We also operate the Aircoach network in Ireland.

First Bus is a division of FirstGroup.

About Equipmake

Equipmake has more than 20 years’ experience developing and integrating industry-leading innovative electric powertrains. It provides the complete solution. Not only is Equipmake a leader in ultra-high performance electric motors, but also complete EV drivetrains and ultra-fast power electronic systems. As well as developing proprietary technology – from motors to inverters – it also offers EV consultancy.

CEO Ian Foley is a highly-experienced engineer who has worked at the pinnacle of global motorsport – from Le Mans to F1 – and Equipmake’s team of expert engineers can take a project from initial specifications through modelling, simulation, design, prototyping, testing and then production in tight timescales. 

Using this expertise, Equipmake has become a global leader in the repowering of buses – most recently completing an all-electric repower of the New Routemaster, as well as partnering with First Bus to upgrade its fleet – while the company has also expanded into the electrified aerospace sector, providing state-of-the-art electric motors for Gilmour Space Technologies’ rockets, as well as in VTOL. Equipmake also continues to supply leading technology to electric sports car and hipercar projects too.