Another major Chinese brand, Foton has announced it will be selling a range of zero emission buses in Australia with both Hydrogen fuel cell and electric vehicles on the menu.

After working with Chinese bus maker Yutong for a number of years, Neil Wang has changed brands and is now part of the team bringing Foton Australia.

Wang moved to Foton Bus Australia in July after a number of years with Yutong, helping to establish that highly succesful factory owned distributorship here.

Wang is general manager of the new operation based in Sydney, which is a totally separate business to Foton’s Australian truck and ute distributorship based on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

The new bus operation’s key goal is to  bring Foton’s latest zero emission buses to Australia  and Wang says  it could be as close as next March with test and trials of its electric buses starting very soon.

“We plan to have both hydrogen fuel cell and battery electric buses available in  Australia and New Zealand and our team is working to provide after-sales support for  our local Foton customers,” Neil Wang told Coach & Bus.

Wang says that the push for hydrogen fueel cell vehicles is quite advanced in Australia and that there is a rapidly growing interest in zero emission buses on both sides of the Tasman.

“Australia and New Zealand are quite advanced in the hydrogen industry and it has been produced here for many decades and I will believe Australia will be the leading market for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in the world,” Wang said.

“Foton Bus wants to provide Australian and New Zealand bus operators a reliable product, strong after-sales service, and a ‘package solution’ for all zero emission bus requirements,” he added.

“Foton’s target is to be the new energy bus solution provider for the Australian and New Zealand markets,” Wang said.

Wang says that Foton Bus will initially offer a fully ADR compliant 12.4-metre hydrogen fuel-cell city bus along with an electric city bus in Australia by March next year.

Later in 2021 Wang says  the company will have a low floor battery electric powered 8.5-metre city bus along with a hydrogen fuel cell powered 12-metre.

“Along with our partners we plan to offer the zero emission bus options as well as charging stations, hydrogen fuelling station infrastructure as well as finance and leasing options,” Wang added.

Foton Bus says it is working with Australia universities on research project to determine how zero emission buses will influence and affect public transport systems in Australia.

Wang says that the focus of the Foton Bus operation is to  create more local jobs and local CKD assembly is on the company’s longer term plan.

Wang points our that there are a number of Foton diesel powered buses on New Zealand road but the new Australian operation will see Foton brand buses on our roads for the first time.

Foton has a lot of experience in hydrogen fuel cell and battery electric buses having built three HFCE buses for the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and has since built more than 600 HFCE buses for Chinese domestic use, with many having logged more than 100,000 km.

“Experience with zero emission is Foton’s major advantage as we enter this market,” said Wang.

Foton established a joint venture in June this year with Japanese automotive giant, Toyota and three other automotive brands including Foton’s own Beijing Automotive Group, to establish United Fuel Cell System R&D (Beijing) Co., Ltd. (FCRD).

Foton’s hydrogen buses use Toyota’s Mirai hydrogen fuel cells, which are generally acknowledged as the most advanced fuel cells currently being used in vehicles. As a result Foton says it can offer a five year full bus warranty including the fuel cell as standard.

It will be interesting to see if the new Foton Bus organisation can gain traction in the burgeoning zero emission bus market in Australia and if Wang’s track record with Yutong is anything to go by it stands a better than even chance.