Wrightbus has been awarded up to £534,000 of government funding via the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) for the development, testing and validation of a hydrogen fuel cell-electric coach driveline.
The Ballymena manufacturer will receive the money from an £11 million pot administered by APC as a second round of the Advanced Route to Market Demonstrator scheme (ARMD2), which itself is part of over £50 million of public funding towards 30 “cutting edge manufacturing projects” in the UK.
All of the ARMD2 projects are described as “fast start” schemes that are aimed at accelerating development. Resulting products are expected to be complete within 12 months. With industry match funding, the overall total invested via the 12 successful ARMD2 bids will be £22.7 million.
APC notes that Wrightbus will build “a full on-vehicle technology demonstrator” as part of the award. The manufacturer notes that while coach is an integral part of the transport network, it is a segment that is difficult to decarbonise, due to high mileages away from vehicle depots and lack of refuelling points.
Speaking about the project, Wrightbus CEO Jean-Marc Gales says: “We are at the forefront of zero-emission technology, and we have a tremendous reputation for our fleet, both battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell buses.
“On the back of developing the world’s first double-deck hydrogen bus, we are keen to develop a hydrogen fuel cell-electric powertrain demonstrator for the coach sector to further decarbonise another part of the transport industry.
The Wrightbus existing hydrogen driveline for buses uses a Ballard FCMove fuel cell that has a claimed maximum range of over 600 miles.