London tour buses set for Equipmake EV retrofit

UK electrification specialist Equipmake has signed a contract with London’s Big Bus Tours to convert a 10-strong fleet of open-top tour buses from diesel to fully electric.

Pete Cook

According to Norfolk-based Equipmake, the electrified Ankai buses will be fitted with 327kWh batteries, delivering 120 miles of range. This is claimed to be enough to cover the buses’ daily sightseeing routes around the capital’s historic sites. The first vehicle is due to will enter service in Q1 2024.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Big Bus Tours as it continues to make its fleet more sustainable,” said Ian Foley, Equipmake CEO.

“It’s fantastic to work with companies that share a forward-thinking mindset and recognise the immense advantages of repowering. By choosing to repower, Big Bus Tours will not only benefit from an excellent opportunity to achieve net-zero targets and play a key role in improving local air quality, but also make significant operating cost savings over the purchase of a new electric bus.”

Equipmake claims that by retrofitting rather than purchasing new EV buses, Big Bus Tours will save 90 tonnes of embedded CO2 per converted vehicle. It’s also claimed that each conversion costs less than half of a new electric bus, and that operators can make substantial savings by converting ICE vehicles once they reach around halfway through their scheduled service life.

“Our partnership with Equipmake will significantly support us as we transition our fleet to zero emissions,” said Gerry Price, executive vice president at Big Bus Tours.

“ it has developed and its shared commitment to sustainability makes this a hugely exciting opportunity for us. Through innovations like this, we will be playing our part in improving the capital’s air quality and giving the hundreds of thousands of tourists who use our sightseeing services every year an even more enjoyable experience.” 

The Zero Emission Drivetrain (ZED) that Equipmake will use on the tour buses has already been implemented on London’s iconic Routemasters. Introduced for trials in November 2022, the electrified Routemaster features a 400kWh battery providing an in-service range of 150 miles.