Queensland based bus builder Bustech has doubled down on electric bus development unveiling its own Australian designed and built electric bus chassis at the recent Sydney Bus Show.
Bustech says its new electric bus is fully designed, engineered and manufactured vehicle, using a 452 kilowatt hour battery, which it says is the biggest battery pack currently in operation in Australia in a bus and has a range of 450 km.
The company already has the bus running in the Logan region south of Brisbane with a second unit delivered recently and another eight currently being built for Queensland operation with three more set to be deployed in NSW.
Bustech COO Martin Hall spoke with T&B News at the Sydney Bus Expo saying that a move to zero emission buses is a must for every government at every level and that local procurement is essential to secure the retention of jobs and upskilling.
“Having that local procurement is essential to ensure the retention of jobs and the upskilling of the labour force,” said Martin Hall.
“We’ve also got the Brisbane Olympics coming in 2032, which is going to require up to 2000 zero emission buses deployed so we’ve got to start those conversations now. And there’s nothing more certain than something like the Olympics, which has to happen. And that’s surely a positive bookend for any government to commit to local procurement,” Hall said.
Asked whether the local industry can be ramped up in time to actually fulfill those demands, Hall was positive that it can step up to meet the demands.
“Absolutely, and it’s not just bus manufacturers such as us, it’s our supply partners as well, so while we can commit to building these buses, we need to start the journey with our suppliers as well, because steel doesn’t grow on trees, and it’s important that we start that conversation and begin those journeys now. So yes it’s absolutely doable, but we need that commitment, and certainty,” he said
Hosting NSW Opposition leader Chris Minns on the Bustech stand at the Sydney Show, prompted questions about whether the Queensland based manufacturer might open a NSW manufacturing operation.
“The numbers are there and if the commitments from the government and the numbers are there, absolutely we would put a put a factory in New South Wales, definitely,” said Hall.
Bustech currently operates two facilities, one at its original base in Burleigh on the Gold Coast and one in Adelaide, both building a mixture of diesel conventional buses and its newly developed electrics.
New owners bought into Bustech, with Fusion Capital taking over in 2018 and according to Hall, they brought with them, world class engineering and personnel and the base for developing its own electric chassis.
“Our lead engineer came to us from supercars and everything you see here has been designed from the ground up with the world’s best engineers and so the future is great for Bustech,” said Martin Hall.
“We’re the only true Australian bus manufacturer left in the country with the with profit staying here in Australia,” said Hall.
Bustech can produce up to 200 buses a year with its current setup but Hall sad that the capacity is endless, particularly with double shifts, so long as they can employ the staff need to achieve those numbers.
“Every industry, not just manufacturing is suffering from skilled worker shortages. It’s chronic, but its not unassailable,” said Hall.
Hall came to his role at Bustech after working with a bus operator for 14 years, as the GM of Surfside Buslines. He had been a customer of Bustech for a long time before crossing to the other side of the fence.
“So you know, having driven buses for that long and the fact that I still drive buses means that I understand the product, but it seems a bit like I am the poacher turned gamekeeper,” Hall laughed.