November 27, 2017, Abdul Gaffer Mohammed Yousef, manager of Government Transport Centre, a subsidiary of Emriates Transport (ET) announced that they have entered into a contract with Shanghai Sunwin Bus Corporation to provide powered electric school buses.
Earlier this month, ET has started the final phase of testing for the first battery-powered electric school bus. The 45-seater bus program is said to be one of the first projects of its kind worldwide. But other electric school bus projects have been started in the United State, especially California. However, this is probably the largest single effort to transition to all electric school buses with a cost of over $6.5m.
Commenting on the bus at its launch ceremony, Mohammed Abdullah Al Jarman, the general manager of ET, said: “The launch of a zero-emission school bus comes as part of our efforts to achieve the vision of the government for a green economy, and puts the UAE in the forefront of such initiatives, regionally and globally.”
Buti Juma Al Naboodah, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Commercial for Al Naboodah Group Enterprises, also commented that: “Al Naboodah Group Enterprises is a strong advocate of sustainable practices, and this is reflected in our Vision 2020. We have long since supported the use of electric vehicles in our product portfolio, and through our partnerships with Emirates Transport and Sunwin, this vision is becoming a reality. This marks a great milestone for both the nation and our Group’s sustainability aims.”
Buses Undergo Difficult Testing
During the pilot phase, the bus will operate on full routes in conditions that accurately simulate the normal school bus’s daily journeys, as well as daily operating conditions.
The bus would operate in accordance with the specifications and regulations of school transport in force in the country. Remarking on the development, Ajit Kumar, chief operating officer for the commercial, transport, and electrical divisions at Al Naboodah Group Enterprises, said: “Al Naboodah Group Enterprises is very proud to be associated with the project, and we are fully geared to provide the necessary support together with our principal, Shanghai Sunwin Bus Corporation.”
The application of these specifications represented a challenge during the manufacturing phase, and ET conducted three field visits to the factory floor in China to inspect the production line and ensure the application of all UAE specifications. In addition to the usual structural safety tests, the bus underwent operational tests for 3 months, followed by several preliminary operational tests in the UAE. Technicians and specialists from Sunwin also visited the UAE to assess how the country’s climate and other conditions may impact on the performance of the bus.
Amer Al Harmoudi, executive director of ET’s Auto Services Division, said that one of the most important technical factors during the manufacturing phase was adjusting the efficiency of the air conditioning system to suit the specific climatic conditions in the country and the nature of operation in school transport.
Fadil Atallah, manager of ET’s Technical Development Department, said that the current distance travelled by the bus is 100 km, and that is under harsh and optimum operating conditions, including maximum power operation of air conditioning systems and all other electronics, adding that the distance travelled under normal operating conditions is 150 km.
To support the operation of the new bus, the installation of two (2) charging stations are planned. The first is to be located at an Emirates Transport bus terminal and one at a site owned by Shanghai Sunwin Bus Cooperation’s local partner, Al Naboodah Group Enterprises (ANGE). These charging stations will be capable of fully charging the bus in around 4 hours.
The Shanghai Sunwin Bus Corporation’s products are solely distributed in the UAE by Swaidan Trading, a part of the Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group. The Shanghai Sunwin Bus Corporation, is a joint venture between SAIC Motor Co Ltd, Volvo (China) Investment Corp, and Volvo Bus Corporation.
Ajit Kumar, COO of Commercial, Transport and Electrical for Al Naboodah Group Enterprises, said: “Al Naboodah Group Enterprises is very proud to be associated with this prestigious project initiated by Emirates Transport and we are fully geared to provide the necessary support together with our Principal, Shanghai Sunwin Bus Corporation. Al Naboodah Group Enterprises is a pioneer in providing E-mobility solutions to the UAE government, as a result of our close and strategic partnerships with leading commercial vehicle manufacturers such as Sunwin.”
Sources: Official Press Release; ConstructionWeekOnline.com: ET unit links $13m contracts to provide 200 cars in Dubai; UAE’s ET unveils China-made zero-emission school bus; and Clean Technica: Emirates Transport Launching First All-Electric School Bus In Region