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Wrightbus signs landmark deal with Australia’s leading bus body manufacturer Volgren

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Global Hydrogen Review,

Leading UK bus manufacturer Wrightbus has signed a landmark deal with Australia’s number one bus body builder that could open up a significant export market.


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Wrightbus has partnered with Volgren to provide its groundbreaking hydrogen fuel cell powertrain technology for the manufacture of two zero-emission hydrogen single deck buses which will be the first European-Australian hydrogen combination in the country.

And Wrightbus leaders hope the first two buses will be the start of many as Australia looks to replace tens of thousands of buses with zero-emission vehicles over the next decade to hit its net zero commitments. The deal has been praised by the UK Government’s Department for International Trade, which provided assistance to Wrightbus as it looked to break into the Australian market.

The vehicles, which will be powered by Wrightbus NexGen hydrogen fuel cell powertrains, will be trialled in Australia, where it is hoped they will form part of the country’s push towards the introduction of hydrogen power. The innovative hydrogen powertrains - which will be built in the Wrightbus Ballymena factory - will use the same technology developed by Northern Ireland-based Wrightbus to launch its world-first zero-emission StreetDeck Hydroliner double deck and GB Kite Hydroliner single deck buses.

Since first entering passenger service in 2020, StreetDeck Hydroliners have clocked up a million miles, preventing 1 700 t of CO2 from entering the atmosphere on those bus journeys. No harmful emissions are emitted from the vehicles, with water vapour being the only emission.

The Wrightbus-Volgren buses are expected to be ready for trial in the first few months of 2023.

Wrightbus CEO Buta Atwal said: “As the UK’s leading bus manufacturer with world-leading products, we’re incredibly proud to be partnering with Australia’s number one bus body builder in Volgren. Like us, Volgren is always on the cutting edge of new and emerging technology to drive the industry forwards. There are some fantastic parallels between the two companies and we’re looking forward to a long and successful working relationship.”

“This is the first time we’ve exported our powertrain technology to a bus body manufacturer, the first time we’ve entered the Australian market as a business, and the hydrogen buses will be the first of their kind to be built in Australia so this is a significant deal for everyone involved. We know from our extensive experience the significant part hydrogen can play in the decarbonisation of public transport and we believe the scope for uptake across the Australian market is huge as the country makes the vital switch to zero-emission vehicles. We’re excited to be in from the start.”

Thiago Deiro, Volgren’s Chief Executive Officer, said the partnership with Wrightbus would bring the world’s leading hydrogen chassis technology to Australia.

"We believe that Hydrogen has an important place in Australia and Wrightbus is one of the most important global players in hydrogen buses. We are confident the partnership will help speed up the deployment of hydrogen buses in Australia. Wrightbus builds bodies for their products in the UK and Europe. In fact, they use similar body technology to Volgren, namely bolted extruded aluminium profiles. This shared expertise and understanding is one of the many aspects of the partnership that we think will make it a success.”

Thiago said the partnership was not just good news for sustainability, and the nation’s move towards green transport, but also for the economy.

“By collaborating with Wrightbus we’re securing local jobs in Australia’s zero-emission future and creating knowledge and experience in hybrid fuel cell technology. Volgren has always been at the vanguard of adopting new technologies. We’ve proven that with the development of our Battery Electric Buses and now we have the opportunity to do the same with our first hydrogen fuel cell prototype.”

Buta Atwal said the partnership, coupled with the company’s expansion plans in Europe being led by its recently-appointed European Chief Commercial Officer, would ensure the Wrightbus name would be known on the global stage, securing the UK’s reputation as a leader in zero-emission hydrogen technology.

The deal was welcomed by the UK government, which has today introduced a bill to help bring into force the UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement, its first independently negotiated Agreement in more than 50 years.




For more news and technical articles from the global hydrogen sector, read the latest issue of Global Hydrogen Review magazine.

Global Hydrogen Review's Spring 2022 issue

The inaugural issue of Global Hydrogen Review is full of detailed technical articles and case studies exploring the entire spectrum of hydrogen production and its applications worldwide. This issue covers a range of topics including the current status of blue hydrogen, how cryogenic technology is helping to shape the energy transition, and integrity management of hydrogen pipelines. Other features include green hydrogen, simulation, transportation, compressor technology, and much more.

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