Ashok Leyland-Optare Versa Electric Bus at BSVS 2015
Ashok Leyland literally stole the Bus and Special Vehicles Show 2015, Greater Noida, with its pure-electric bus Optare Versa EV. Being the first product at the expo hall one can see after entry, the bus grabbed the attention of every visitor. The company launched the Versa EV today, instead of the Solo EV bus which was scooped earlier as first Optare bus for India. This low-floor city bus, larger than the Solo, sets new dawn for the Indian bus market and for the AL too.
The Versa EV bus belongs to the English bus manufacturer Optare, which is a fully owner subsidiary of Ashok Leyland. Though the brand is totally unknown in India, it sells considerable volumes in UK and few other European markets. In the month of October last year, AL was scooped to be working on bring hybrid and electric buses from Optare to India. It was earlier thought that the Optare Solo is going to be the first model to enter India, but AL has chosen bigger Versa.
The Versa EV has an all electric drivetrain with 200 hp traction motor, powered by 52 units of lithium-ion batteries. An integrated, on-board charger takes approximately 6-7 hours to charge batteries to their optimum level. On a full charge, the driving range is pegged at 150 kms. Regenerated braking is available too. The low-floor construction is fully integrated, and houses air suspension. It can seat 36 people excluding the driver. Top speed is limited to 95 kmph. On-board WiFi, charging points, wheel-chair accessibility, foldable ramp, and seat mounted stanchions are offered as well. The bus actually makes more sense for intra-city applications like airport or metro feeders.
This electric bus has a unique body design unlike any other AL buses. Designed by Optare, the Versa has a swooping roof line and a large glazed area.The swept-back front is the best part, which actually resembles the Solo, but with a more modern and updated look. Interiors also express fairly modern built, with the plastics used and layouts. The driver gets a dedicated cabin, a nice touch.
AL is showing keen interest in making Optare electric and hybrid buses commercially viable in India, by assembling them locally and supports from governments. The Optare Versa e-bus can cost somewhere around INR 2-3 crores, owing to higher costs of battery techs and import duties. The company sells around 100 electric buses in UK as of now. It also sells Versa with Mercedes and Cummins diesel engines.
Ashok Leyland has set a stage for affordable electric bus market for India, which would invite other manufacturers to invest more on hybrid and electric buses for the domestic market. A good sign at the start of the year 2015!!