Australia’s largest bus body builder, Volgren, has delivered the first of two battery electric buses (BEBs) to Victoria’s Department of Transport and new Melbourne Bus Franchise operator, Kinetic.

The BEBs are the first of 36 electric buses that will roll off the production line in Dandenong over the next three years to join Kinetic’s Melbourne fleet, an average of one per month.

Thiago Deiro, CEO of Volgren, said the Department of Transport’s decision to prioritise green transport is already creating new jobs and demonstrates the trust that government has in locally manufactured buses.

“Since the Melbourne Bus Franchise was announced last year we’ve created 30 new jobs.  We hope to employ another 20 staff this year alone as production on BEBs picks up. And, as has been the case for many years now, the vast majority of content we use for these buses will come from the local supply chain.

“Australian manufacturing now offers the highest quality levels I’ve ever seen during my time in the industry. That comes from Volgren expertise, combined with the exceptional quality of materials and components produced by suppliers throughout Victoria and Australia.”

Victorian Public Transport Minister Ben Carroll said that achieving zero emissions across the public bus fleet was critical in transitioning to net zero emission transport network.

“We are on track to deliver 78 electric buses to Victoria’s bus network by 2025, with the first two buses rolling off the production line at Volgren and set to hit the roads in the coming weeks.”

“It’s not only good for the environment, it’s good for industry and the local economy with over 50 new jobs to be created at Volgren in Dandenong.”

Thiago said the state’s transition to electric vehicles under the current Melbourne Bus Franchise agreement enables Volgren to plan, invest and make sure the vehicles are delivered on-time and on budget.

“The certainty we get from this vote of confidence means we can continue to invest in our business and people, which everyone at the company appreciates after the unpredictability of the last two years.

“Of the 30 new employees, 11 have been enrolled in apprentice programs, including Automotive Electrical Technology, Automotive Manufacturing Technical Operations and Supply Chain. These new jobs and skills are future-proofing our business and delivering huge benefits to our community.”

Yuri Tessari, Volgren’s Chief Commercial Officer, said the two vehicles took around six weeks to complete. He put the “extremely smooth” build process down to detailed preparation and planning, as well as clear direction from Kinetic.

“As we’ve stated before, when project planning is properly done, the outcomes are usually excellent and that’s been the case as we’ve worked with Kinectic.

“With every BEB built, Volgren has improved its processes and we can comfortably say now that building an electric bus is second nature for our company. All three of our factories are fully prepared and are capable of producing electric vehicles with the same speed as we produce buses using other technologies.” 

Adam Begg, Kinetic Co-CEO added “Introducing electric buses is part of our ongoing investment to create a more reliable, safe, clean and green bus network that appeals to more people as their preferred mode of travel.”

“These new electric buses are better for the environment, better for our communities and make better financial sense, Adam said.

Volgren is on schedule to deliver a further 12 BEBs to Kinetic by the end of this year.