First look – Business From Zero-Emission Pioneers Wrightbus

World-leading bus manufacturer Wrightbus today took the wraps off a bold new enterprise designed to replace older diesel engines with new zero-emission electric powertrains.  NewPower, which has moved into a hi-tech factory in Oxfordshire, aims to speed up the decarbonisation process by eradicating diesel powertrains in older fleets at a substantially lower price than a new bus.  Wrightbus becomes the first OEM to offer a re-powering service, utilising the unique skills of its 1,800-strong workforce to swap diesel for electricity.

Its master technicians built the original buses and have unrivalled expertise in being able to swap powertrains.  Hailed as affordable decarbonisation, it is hoped that operators with mid-life bus fleets but without the funding for new zero-emission buses can take advantage of the instant sustainability switch.  Engineers say the conversion can take as little as three weeks and have space for teams to work on six buses at any one time, offering the potential to decarbonise 500 buses a year. 

Along with producing the world's first hydrogen bus and the iconic London Routemaster, Wrightbus has unveiled ambitious plans for more jobs and widespread European expansion.  NewPower has already added to its team with senior hires from across the automotive world, including people who have worked for Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations, BMW and McLaren.  Given traditional buses consume 40,000 litres of diesel per year, the improvements in air quality are immense.

Indeed, zero-emission buses manufactured by Wrightbus have already travelled over 14 million miles, saving over 24,000 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.  "While we are selling new hydrogen and battery-electric buses all over the world there is a huge market of mid-life buses which, once converted, can have an immediate impact on helping to improve air quality in towns and cities up and down the UK," said Wrightbus CEO Jean-Marc Gales.  "We have long been recognised as the world-leading manufacturer of both hydrogen and battery-electric buses and now NewPower will add another string to our bow." 

Creating 22 jobs - 10 technicians and 12 office staff - and based in Bicester, the announcement from Wrightbus follows a record-breaking start to 2024 which has seen the Northern Ireland business named as the fastest-growing large manufacturer in the UK and the fastest-growing bus-maker in the whole of Europe.  "The business is growing very fast and I am really proud of what we have achieved over the last 12 months because every order, whether home or abroad, guarantees jobs back in Ballymena," Jean-Marc explained.  "We are the number one zero-emissions bus maker in the UK.

A year ago, we had 200 zero emission buses on the road.

Today, we have over 700 and in the next year we will get to 1,700.

No-one else comes close." 

Transport & Logistics - Driving The Industry Forward