Luxury commuter bus service Mahu City Express has launched New Zealand’s first EV coach for daily operations between Warkworth and Auckland.
The vehicle was unveiled with a small gathering at Matakana’s Sculptureum on February 27 along with transport minister Michael Wood and a blessing by local iwi.
The pure electric Yutong TCE12 was supplied in partnership with New Zealand-based JW Group and was 50% co-funded with $352,500 through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).
The coach features a 281Kwh battery with a range of around 300km. As part of daily operations, it will do a round trip of around 150km each day and can seat up to 40 passengers.
EECA funding will also go towards a 120kW heavy EV charger to service the coach.
Mahu City Express was started by Julian Ostling in 2015 after two years of research to get certified and get permission to use the Northern Busway.
After moving to Warkworth from London, he realised there was no public transport for the area and figured there must be demand for such a service.
Operations began with a 15-seater bus and soon grew to two 37-seat luxury coaches with leather seats, carpets and USB ports – and now the EV coach joins the fleet.
The company also caters for private groups especially for those wanting to visit the Matakana wine region.
Along with weddings, it has also developed a little niche for running event buses to large concerts and sports fixtures in Auckland.
Ostling says he is excited to be the first in the country to be running the EV coach and he expects to add more electric vehicles later on.
“We always wanted to be ahead of the game and offer passengers something new.
“We’re also totally committed to doing all we can to preserve and protect the environment on which we all depend, and so this decision was a no-brainer for us, even though it is not an easy implementation,” he says.
Transport minister Michael Wood says the Government is supporting the transition of New Zealand’s bus fleet from diesel to electric but it also requires people in the industry to take leadership.
“To have examples like [Mahu City Express] in this community, where a relatively small operator has taken the lead, has worked with EECA and has procured an electric vehicle that provides a great customer experience is incredibly encouraging.
“I think it’s going to be good for their business and I’m hoping to see more of it,” Wood says.