Just when you started to get used to the Optare brand name, the former Leyland Buses has changed its name again, with its parent Hindujah Group announcing that the company will now be known as Switch Mobility.
Optare Group was the majority-owned UK subsidiary of Hindujah’s Ashok Leyland operation and the move to the Switch Mobility brand it says is part of its drive towards electrification and new mobility services.
Optare, or Switch as it is to be known is already a leading player in electric buses with more than 150 of them currently operating in the UK. It has just delivered 30 Electric Double Decker buses to Metroline in London. The company is currently fulfilling orders for operators including Tower Transit, London, and First York.
Ashok Leyland has recently also announced it has partnered with Hitachi ABB Power Grids, signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the company and the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM) for an e-mobility pilot project.
Under the tripartite agreement, the trio will run an electric bus (e-bus) pilot to support sustainable in-campus commuting by IITM’s students and staff. The e-bus will be provided by Ashok Leyland , incorporating Hitachi ABB Power Grids flash-charging technology – Grid-eMotionTM Flash.
IITM will host the infrastructure required to operate the flash-charging system for the e-bus. Recently, the IITM had also developed an autonomous solar vehilcle to survey water-bodies and provide real-time data.
According to the press statement, smart e-mobility is at a nascent stage in India. The switch to electric vehicles had previously presented challenges for bus operators because it is difficult for battery-operated buses to maximize passenger load carrying capacity and running time while making the whole operation economically viable. An e-bus with flash-charging technology can solve that problem while improving the quality of air by reducing pollution in densely populated urban areas.
In January this year, Ashok Leyland partnered with ABB Power Grids to develop fast charging for electric buses.
“We need to have all hands-on deck – industry, academia, and policymakers to develop a strong and reliable local ecosystem to support the Indian electric vehicle (EV) revolution. We are delighted to be partnering with Ashok Leyland and IITM to provide a zero-emissions mass public transportation bus system through our award-winning technology, localized for the Indian market,” said N Venu, managing director, Hitachi ABB Power Grids in India.
“This latest alliance will further help us stay at the forefront of embedding innovative and indigenous technologies to nurture the smart e-mobility ecosystem in India,” said Dr. N Saravanan, chief technology officer, Ashok Leyland.
“We hope to study and understand how the right technology can enable an efficient transport system without damaging the environment. We are delighted to have partnered with the best in the industry for this endeavor,” said Professor Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT Madras.
Last year, the Ministry of Science and Technology set up a solar energy harnessing center at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.
Several IITs across the country are taking exemplary steps to promote sustainability on their campuses. Previously, to encourage smart mobility, the Indian Institute of Technology Patna floated floated an expression of interest for providing electric cycles on a use and pay basis for the staff and students at the university campus.