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British-built hydrogen bus launched

Arcola Energy and Optare Group have launched a new hydrogen fuel cell double deck bus, built in the UK for domestic and international markets.

Based on the proven Optare Metrodecker EV platform, the Metrodecker H2 hydrogen bus incorporates a hydrogen fuel cell powerpack developed by Arcola Energy as a direct replacement for the battery powerpack in the EV variant.

Both the bus and power system will be manufactured in the UK. Base vehicles for the Metrodecker H2 will be serially produced at Optare’s factory in Sherburn-in-Elmet, near Leeds, on the existing production lines for the Metrodecker EV. Hydrogen and fuel cell systems will be built by Arcola Energy at their existing Liverpool manufacturing facility, with plans well advanced for a second facility at the Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc in Dundee.

The new model is capable of carrying more than 90 passengers and has a range of between 200 and 250 miles depending on specification and route.

Optare believes there is a significant export market for fuel cell buses to regions with high ambient temperatures, requiring high air-conditioning power.

Dr Ben Todd, CEO of Arcola Energy, said, “Our partnership with Optare is an important step forward, not just for Arcola Energy, but for hydrogen fuel cell vehicle deployment in the UK. The innovative structural design of Optare buses makes them ideally suited to housing zero emission powertrains; and most importantly, to producing buses which we believe will be the safest, most efficient and easiest to maintain in their class“.

Graham Belgum, CEO of Optare Group, added, “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Arcola on this project.  We believe fuel cell technology has the potential to complement Optare’s award winning battery electric vehicle range.  We look forward to working closely with Arcola to increase our understanding of the technology and its performance in service.  We can see applications for fuel cells on inter urban routes in temperate climates and in high ambient environments where air conditioning is essential and energy consumption is high”.