The first Volvo electric route bus in Australia has hit the road in Perth after the company and its body building partner Volgren handed over the first of four Optimus Volvo BZL Electric units to the WA Public Transport Authority at its Joondalup Depot in Perth this week..

Volvo and Volgren also announced that the new electric BZL is now ready for local body assembly and delivery this year.

“It’s been an exciting electromobility journey for us over the years and we are very happy to have handed over our first Volvo BZL Electric unit to the PTA,” said, Volvo Bus Australia, general manager Mitch Peden.

“We’ve spent years planning, developing, testing and refining our electric chassis so that we could offer operators one of the safest, most responsive, and sustainable electric bus system in Australia,” said Peden.

The company said that throughout the BZL Electric project, it engaged in new and existing partnerships and took all the necessary steps to ensure the BZL Electric was of the ‘highest quality, has the highest safety standards, and will last in the local environment in line with Australian standards and customer expectations’.

“It really is a milestone for us in having the BZL Electric refined and ready for local body assembly this year,” Peden continued.

“What also makes this milestone so special for Volvo, is that we’ve been able to deliver the first unit together with the team at Volgren, which fitted a sturdy Australian made Optimus body on Volvo’s chassis.

“Volgren has been a trusted business partner since the late-70s and Volvo is thrilled to have its first four Volvo BZL Electric chassis units for the PTA fitted with Volgren bodies.”

Thiago Deiro, CEO of Volgren, said the first Optimus on a Volvo BZL Electric bus chassis delivered to the PTA marked a new era in a partnership with Volvo that spans more than 40 years.

“Our relationship with Volvo is one of the strongest and most productive in the Australian bus industry. It’s a proven combination that operators know and trust. It’s also a product that has built a reputation for reliability and excellence throughout the industry. We are confident that the fully electric version will only build on this reputation,” Deiro said.

“The Optimus-BZL combination is the first Australian manufactured body built on a European electric bus chassis. It’s the lightest electric bus in the market delivering operational savings for operators. It’s also the first full low-floor battery electric bus in Australia which equates to more space and greater seating capacity,”  he added.

Yuri Tessari, chief commercial officer of Volgren said the first battery electric buses for the PTA were built at Volgren’s Dandenong headquarters, but that all future PTA vehicles will be manufactured at its  Malaga facility in Perth, supporting local jobs and future-proofing the Perth bus network.

“We now have the ability to build the Optimus-BZL right here in Perth. The same can be said for our facilities in Brisbane and Melbourne, which are already manufacturing electric buses.

“With all three factories working together under our lean principles, we have the ability to build at scale and easily meet large orders. The bus is now available to order and we look forward to providing it to operators across Australia.”

The first Volvo BZL Electric unit features a driveline adapted from Europe and the same electrical system, suspension and pneumatic system as Volvo’s B8RLE Euro 6 and B5LH hybrid products – features which are standard across this new model.

The BZL Electric chassis has a low floor and is designed to ensure what Volvo describes as ‘effortless operator serviceability and reliability’, with lower servicing costs and increased uptime for a longer life on Australian roads.

Volvo says that the low floor design of the BZL Electric chassis paired with Volgren’s Optimus body, provides ‘unrivalled’ passenger accessibility and space, greater passenger capacity and passenger comfort.

The com company said that  the  Optimus body has a lightweight design to deliver longer range as well as compliance with the highest levels of safety and flammability standards for buses in Australia to ensure passenger safety.

“Sharing a similar vision and values, Volvo Bus Australia and Volgren look forward to continuing their e-bus partnership into the future, with the potential for this to facilitate more local jobs and apprenticeships to support Australian manufacturing,” Volvo said in its statement.

“Perth is a key part of our business and we’ll continue to invest in the skills, equipment and manufacturing processes that allow us to build electric buses right here in Malaga,” Thiago Deiro added.

“The fact that the first Volvo-Volgren battery electric bus will go into service for our long-time partners the Public Transport Authority of Western Australia is an incredibly proud moment for us. We thank the PTA for continuing to place their trust in Volgren and Volvo and congratulate them on taking this important step towards sustainable transport,” he said.

Mitch Peden said that the first Optimus Volvo BZL Electric bus will be key to the future of public transport in Perth and that the Optimus Volvo BZL model will play a major role in Australia’s transition from diesel to electric, and that it was an achievement for the WA PTA.

“Having worked with the PTA for close to 12 years now alongside Volgren, it really is fantastic to see the first of four Optimus Volvo BZL Electric units commence operation in Perth,” POeden said.

“We are very grateful for the PTA providing the opportunity to evolve our partnership in the electromobility space with Volgren, and applaud the forward-thinking of PTA on its efforts to provide high quality and safe zero-emission transport for Perth,” said Peden.