Bus manufacturer Wrightbus is hoping a deal to provide hydrogen fuel technology to a Australian bus builder will lead to much bigger contracts in the country.
The Ballymena-based company has partnered with Volgren to add the technology for the manufacture of two zero-emission hydrogen single-deck buses.
It is the first hydrogen fuel deal the company has signed in Australia. The buses will use Wrightbus’ powertrain technology.
The UK Government has praised the deal, citing it is an example of the claimed opportunities provided by a recently signed trade agreement with Australia. The Department For International Trade said it helped put together the deal.
Wrightbus leaders hope the deal will be the first of many in Australia. The country’s cities and states are looking to replace tens of thousands of buses with zero-emission vehicles over the next decade.
The hydrogen powertrain fuel technology is the same type used by the company for its StreetDeck Hydroliner double-deck and GB Kite Hydroliner single-deck buses.
The Wrightbus-Volgren buses are expected to be ready for trial in the first few months of 2023.
Wrightbus CEO Buta Atwal said: “Like us, Volgren is always on the cutting edge of new and emerging technology to drive the industry forwards.
“There are some fantastic parallels between the two companies and we’re looking forward to a long and successful working relationship.
“This is the first time we’ve exported our powertrain technology to a bus body manufacturer, the first time we’ve entered the Australian market as a business, and the hydrogen buses will be the first of their kind to be built in Australia, so this is a significant deal for everyone involved.
“We know from our extensive experience the significant part hydrogen can play in the decarbonisation of public transport and we believe the scope for uptake across the Australian market is huge as the country makes the vital switch to zero-emission vehicles. We’re excited to be in from the start.”
Thiago Deiro, chief executive officer at Volgren, said the partnership with Wrightbus would bring the world’s leading hydrogen chassis technology to Australia.
“We believe that Hydrogen has an important place in Australia and Wrightbus is one of the most important global players in hydrogen buses. We are confident the partnership will help speed up the deployment of hydrogen buses in Australia.
“Wrightbus builds bodies for their products in the UK and Europe. In fact, they use similar body technology to Volgren, namely bolted, extruded aluminium profiles.
“This shared expertise and understanding is one of the many aspects of the partnership that we think will make it a success.”
Deiro said the partnership was not just good news for sustainability and the nation’s move towards green transport, but also for the economy.
“By collaborating with Wrightbus we’re securing local jobs in Australia’s zero-emission future and creating knowledge and experience in hybrid fuel cell technology.”
The deal was welcomed by the UK Government, which has today introduced a bill to help bring into force the UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement, the first following Brexit.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan, secretary of state for international trade, said: “Northern Ireland is home to one of the UK’s most dynamic manufacturing sectors and I’m proud of our work helping companies like Wrightbus get export wins like this. They are paving the way for others to make in the UK and sell to the world.”