Zenobē signs 130 electric bus-deal with National Express, delivering on its ETaaS model

In a landmark ‘turn-key’ deal, battery management specialist Zenobē has signed an agreement to provide 130 double-decker electric buses to National Express for its operations in Coventry.

It builds on National Express’ February 2020 pledge to have a fully zero-emission bus fleet by 2030.

It is the UK’s largest single electric vehicle (EV) bus fleet transaction, and will deliver 130 BYD Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) buses, with some funding coming from the Department of Transport’s ZEBRA scheme.

The partnership means Zenobē will be providing Electric Transportation as a Service (ETaaS) to National Express, creating a risk-free availability model for operators to help accelerate uptake.

The project will support Coventry’s transition to become the UK’s first all-electric bus city and help the country drive towards its net-zero ambitions

The all-encompassing deal will see the UK firm provide everything from new vehicles to charging infrastructure, replacement batteries and spare parts.

As part of the agreement, ADL will supply Zenobē and National Express with spare parts for planned preventive maintenance (PPM) over 16 years from acceptance of the vehicles.

The work builds on ADL and Zenobē’s existing work with National Express, previously providing charging infrastructure and batteries for 29 BYD ADL Enviro400EV electric buses in Coventry and Birmingham in 2020.

The project will be financed partly through the partnership between Zenobē and National Express, with some investment also coming from a £50m grant from the Department of Transport, awarded to the West Midlands Combined Authority for Coventry’s all-electric bus city scheme, enabling the public purse to go further.

The risk-free ETaaS model provides reliability and flexibility for the operator, removing the hassle of owning the electric vehicle fleet and allowing National Express to focus on driving improvements for new and existing customers, while maintaining the cheapest bus fares in England.

The pioneering model will shape the future of bus travel, making it easier, cheaper, and cleaner for all.

ETaaS contracts like this are a well-established model for other sectors, including rail, aircraft and shipping, but Zenobē is now bringing the many benefits to e-bus operators.

In partnership with National Express, Zenobē will finance and manage the full turnkey solution that includes new vehicles, on-board battery replacement, charging and grid infrastructure, a second-life battery system at the depot, unique software to optimise charging, parts, and full operational support.

This deal will see over 130 double-deck e-buses, manufactured in Britain by Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) in partnership with BYD, enter service in Coventry from early 2023 as a part of the city’s successful bid to become the country’s first all-electric bus city and take it a huge step closer to replacing around 300 diesel vehicles by 2025.

The ETaaS model removes the risks and overcomes the barriers associated with electrification of fleet. The ground-breaking offering streamlines the process and makes it more economical to switch fleets to electric than ever before, representing a significant step towards National Express’s commitment to achieving a zero-emission bus fleet by 2030 and the UK’s commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

With transport currently contributing 27 per cent of all UK emissions, the project will be encouraging local bus travel and reducing air pollution for Coventry and the wider West Midlands area.

The work builds on Zenobē’s existing partnership with National Express, previously providing charging infrastructure and batteries for electric buses in Coventry and Birmingham in 2020.

The project will be financed partly through the partnership between Zenobē and National Express, with some investment also coming from the £50 million grant from the Department of Transport, awarded to the West Midlands Combined Authority for Coventry’s all-electric bus city scheme, enabling the public purse to go further.

The project will be implemented in phases with infrastructure works beginning in May 2022 to January 2023, and the first vehicle deliveries arriving at Coventry early in 2023. All buses will be double-decker e-buses built in Britain by Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) in partnership with BYD.

The news was announced in a photo-call in Coventry with (pictured, above  L-R) National Express Bus Managing Director David Bradford; West Midlands Mayor Andy Street; National Express Zero Emissions Operational Manager Agata Litwinowicz-Soltysiak; and Coventry City Council Cabinet member for Jobs, Regeneration and Climate Change Cllr Jim O’Boyle.

Steven Meersman, Co-founder and Director of Zenobē, says: “This really is a globally important deal. We are incredibly excited to be leading the way for the electric bus industry, with ETaaS revolutionising the way fleets are electrified. By retaining ownership of the vehicles and taking on the risk of switching to zero-emission, we are giving National Express the use of an electric bus fleet without the hassle of owning one, making the transition to a zero-emission fleet more financially desirable.”

“We’re excited to use our new model to help many more operators and local authorities across the UK – and the world – transition to electric, and ultimately accelerate progress towards net zero and clean air.”

Tom Stables, CEO of National Express UK and Germany, said: “This ground-breaking partnership with Zenobe further demonstrates our leadership as National Express takes another significant step towards our fully zero emission bus fleet ambition.

“Through this pioneering new way of working, Zenobe’s innovative solution provides us with the reliability and flexibility we need to accelerate the roll-out of our greener, cleaner vehicles, while we focus on delivering an excellent service for the people of Coventry.

“Buses are already one of the cleanest ways to travel​. National Express is making it even cleaner, cheaper and easier, so our new and existing customers can relax knowing that they are doing their bit for the planet if they leave the car at home and travel by bus.”

Paul Davies, ADL President and Managing Director, says: “As the UK’s leading provider of electric buses we are delighted to be part of this ETaaS deal with partners Zenobē and National Express. This innovative model brings together government funding and business innovation to deliver an affordable way of rolling out zero emission bus fleets at scale. The country will further benefit from the choice of 130 British-built vehicles that ensure money is reinvested into the manufacturing sector and local communities.”

Frank Thorpe, Managing Director, BYD UK said: “The issue of climate change is one that requires immediate action. We believe that this arrangement is a positive, more viable way forward for many public transport operators to swiftly integrate and transition to zero-emission pure-electric bus solutions. National Express has first-hand experience operating BYD ADL eBuses, which utilise BYD’s pioneering battery and integrated electronic technology. With a longstanding knowledge of the UK market, BYD is especially proud to be involved in this project, which is setting a precedent for a new way of accelerating and financing eMobility for a better, greener world.”

FIND OUT MORE: About Zenobē Energy is exhibiting at the ITT Hub 2022 event and conference on 11-12 May, at Farnborough International, just off the M25, west of London. Register for your free place now! www.itthub.co.uk


About Zenobē Energy Ltd. (Zenobē)

Zenobē is an EV fleet and battery storage specialist. It provides intelligent power and battery storage services for commercial EV fleet operators, power grid operators and large businesses. Zenobē is helping organisations power towards net zero by switching diesel fleets to electric and by accelerating the uptake of renewable energy. It has c.225MW of contracted storage assets, around 390 operational e-buses across UK, Australia, New Zealand powered by its own proprietary software and a large portfolio of future projects in the pipeline. 

Zenobē’s EV fleet solution is driving the adoption of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure by providing fleets operators and local authorities with a full solution for a pay-per-km or per-month fee. The company’s battery storage offering helps electricity networks provide clean, reliable and affordable power. With the full life cycle of its products in mind, Zenobē is also a leader in second-life battery solutions by repurposing batteries after their first life.

About National Express

National Express Group is a leading international public transport provider delivering services in the UK, Continental Europe, North Africa, North America and the Middle East. The Group owns and leases buses, coaches and trains to deliver local, regional, national and international transportation services.

In UK bus, National Express is the market leader in the West Midlands – the largest urban bus market outside of London. Services are operated from nine garages across the region, with over 6,000 employees and a fleet of 1,600 buses carrying nearly a million people to work, school, college, to the shops and to see their friends and family every day. 

In February 2020 National Express announced its pledge to have a fully zero-emission bus fleet by 2030. National Express’ achievements are founded in partnership working. As a founder member of the UK’s first and most successful Bus Alliance, the bus company works with TfWM, councils and Transport Focus to improve bus travel for its customers.

About Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL)

Alexander Dennis Limited (“ADL”) is part of leading global bus manufacturer NFI Group Inc., which meets today’s urban demands for scalable smart mobility solutions with zero-emission buses and coaches, infrastructure, and technology. ADL is a global leader in the design and manufacture of double deck buses as well as being the UK’s largest bus and coach manufacturer. ADL offers single and double deck vehicles under the brands of Alexander Dennis and Plaxton, and has over 31,000 vehicles in service in the UK, Europe, Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Mexico, Canada and the United States. Further information is available at www.alexander-dennis.com

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