Canberra’s First Permanent Electric Bus Hits The Road

Yuton E12 electric bus in Canberra

After a successful trial in 2020, the first of what will very soon be a dozen Yutong E12 electric buses has gone into service in Canberra.

While the ACT has achieved 100 per cent renewable electricity, transport now accounts for Canberra’s single largest source of emissions. As part of addressing this, the ACT Government has set a goal of achieving a zero-emission public transport system by 2040.

This first electric bus represents a significant milestone towards that goal.

A Bit About Yutong And The E12

While it may not be a name familiar to many Australians, Yutong has been around for decades – starting out as a bus repair factory in 1963 before expanding into bus manufacturing. The company claims a market share of more than 32% in its home country of China and delivers 65,000 buses and coaches on average annually. Yutong Australia began importing buses from China in 2012, so the company is pretty well established here.

The E12 is Yutong’s first electric bus, which has been in production since around 2015. Aside from Transport Canberra, at least a dozen local operators had trialled a localised variant of  the E12 by 2021, clocking up more than 500,000 kilometres between them – and feedback appeared to be generally very good.

Some basic specs of the Yutong E12:

  • Passenger capacity: 44 seated + 21 standing (AU variant)
  • Drive motor: Yutong YTM280-CV9-H
  • Rated Output 215kW continuous, 350kW peak
  • Rated Torque 3200Nm
  • Battery: Lithium-ion (Lithium Iron Phosphate) 422kWh or 350kWh capacity (not sure which the ACT bus is)
  • Wheelchair/disability accessible

The Yutong E12 specification sheet is a bit light on some details such as range and charging times. Range varies of course according to load and conditions, but in one of the local trials it was mentioned the Yutong E12 completed a 377km run “no worries”. As for charge times, I’ve seen anywhere from six hours to as little as a bit over an hour depending on the battery pack and charging solution in use.

11 more Yutong E12s will go into service across Canberra in the coming weeks and purchasing of 90 more battery electric buses is well underway. The E12 buses and associated charging equipment (also supplied by Yutong) will operate from the Tuggeranong depot.

“This is just the start of our program that will see Canberra eventually move to a completely zero emissions public transport network that is powered by 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2040 or earlier,” said ACT Minister for Transport Chris Steel.

EV Uptake In The ACT

Electric vehicle adoption in the ACT generally is really starting to ramp up.

According to the Australian Electric Vehicle Association, in mid-January 2020 there were just 446 battery electric vehicles (BEVs) registered in the ACT. As at a couple of days ago, there were 3,154 – a little under one per cent of all vehicles registered in the Territory. There were 1,280 sales of BEVs in the ACT in 2022.

The ACT Government is supporting uptake of zero emissions vehicles (ZEVs) including BEVs with several incentives, including stamp duty exemption where eligible and 2 years’ free ACT vehicle registration. Eligible households can access up to $15,000 to buy a ZEV under the ACT Sustainable Household Scheme zero interest loans option.

With regard to EV charging in the ACT, public EV chargers are popping up all over Canberra and the ACT Government has committed to providing at least 180 public chargers by 2025.

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