Mellor expands electric bus offering and attacks DfT’s ‘restrictive ZEBRA funding for small buses’

Rochdale-based bus manufacturer, Mellor, has expanded its electric bus product range with the introduction of two new full-electric, zero-emissions buses.

It comes as it reiterates its view that the DfT has “seemingly withdrawn Local Authorities’ ability to choose where to invest in zero-emissions buses – and, therefore, the essential services they deliver,” due to restrictions on ZEBRA funding.

Key points:

  • New Orion E23 and Maxima E23 deliver increased seating capacities
  • Full-electric vehicles part of ‘organic’ development of Mellor product range 
  • Development brings together core competences of Woodall Nicholson group
  • Enhanced 23-passenger capacities meet ZEBRA funding criteria

The new low-floor Orion E23 and new Maxima E23 both deliver 23-passenger capacities thus falling within scope of the £120m Zero-Emission Buses Regional Area (ZEBRA) funding for the provision of up to 500 new British-built zero-emission buses.

The vehicles represent a natural development of the Mellor product portfolio as the public transport industry’s move towards eMobility gathers pace. Both the new Orion E23 and new Maxima E23 are based on existing and proven Mellor products familiar to a significant number  of operators and Local Authorities.

The new electric buses join Mellor’s expanding line-up of electric products, including the Orion E16 and also a range of electric van conversions ideal for DRT (Demand Responsive Transport) applications. All of Mellor’s recent product developments continue the company’s commitment to its size- and cost-appropriate vehicle development strategy, offering a range of capacities from nine up to 23 passengers.

Orders for Orion E23 and new Maxima E23 are now being taken with deliveries expected to commence in summer 2021. 

The DDA-compliant, low-floor Orion E23 provides the ideal cost-appropriate solution for urban schedule bus services, while the Maxima E23 – also DDA-compliant – will provide a zero-emissions variant of the popular school-bus offering from Mellor.

Headline specifications:

Orion E23                                                        Maxima E23
23-passengers                                             23-passengers
92 kWh battery capacity                             80 kWh battery capacity
Range 200km                                               Range 160km
5,500 kg GVW                                             7,200 kg GVW

Development of the new size- and cost-appropriate electric buses has brought together the core competences of Woodall Nicholson – the British-based manufacturing group which includes the Mellor, Treka Bus, Coleman Milne and VCS brands. In particular, the group’s Promech Technologies business has been instrumental with its lightweighting and drivetrain integration capabilities.

Mellor has seen growing support for its recent  ‘Big Bus Bias’ campaign; the company’s response to what it describes as the Department for Transport’s (DfT’s) short-sighted and restrictive ZEBRA funding for smaller size-appropriate zero-emissions buses.

“Operators have told us that they want Mellor electric buses in which to invest government funding” Mark Clissett, Mellor

With support from industry bodies, charities and from the Shadow Transport Office, Mellor remains steadfast in its view that the DfT has seemingly withdrawn Local Authorities’ ability to choose where to invest in zero-emissions buses – and, therefore, the essential services they deliver. 

“The market has driven our investment into developing our electric product range,” said Bus Division Managing Director at Woodall Nicholson, Mark Clissett, “and operators in particular have told us that they want Mellor electric buses in which to invest government funding.

“With significant investment, innovative engineering and a dedicated, highly-skilled team of designers, engineers and technicians, we can offer a zero-emissions solution on an already proven vehicle platform.”

“The addition of full electric variants to our proven Orion and Maxima line-ups,” he added, “represents the organic development of our product range. We now have full-electric, zero-emissions buses to offer a size- and cost-appropriate solution for an increasing number of operators who are seeing their usual larger bus services become increasingly unviable.”

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