Alexander Dennis Limited (“ADL”), a subsidiary of NFI Group Inc. (“NFI”), one of the world’s leading independent global bus manufacturers, today announced that together with its local assembly partner Kiwi Bus Builders, it has completed the first extra-large electric buses for New Zealand customer Howick & Eastern by Transdev, part of Transdev Australasia. The pair of BYD ADL Enviro200EV XLB will be operated on Auckland Transport services.

They are the first electric buses to have been assembled in New Zealand as part of the renewed partnership between ADL and Kiwi Bus Builders, based in Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty. Designed with ADL’s partner BYD, their Iron-Phosphate batteries can be charged using either AC or DC connections to give full flexibility for operators and for depot infrastructure requirements.

Developed for the specific requirements of New Zealand legislation, the vehicles carry 75 passengers without the requirement of an overweight permit. This takes away the risk of higher costs down the line due to road user charges.

ADL’s General Manager for New Zealand, Tony Moore, said: “Having gone through the final compliance inspection of the vehicles with Kiwi Bus Builders, I can confirm they have done a fantastic job, especially against the background of lockdowns, distancing restrictions, supply chain issues and port congestion.

“Assembling these vehicles is not just about supporting Kiwi Bus Builders, but also about other local suppliers and the wider communities in which they are based. We are looking to further increase our local supply chain in New Zealand in the coming months. We also continue to enjoy the full and comprehensive support of the BYD Australia team led by Wing You.”

Richard Drummond, Managing Director of Kiwi Bus Builders, said: “It’s been challenging, especially with local and national lockdowns, but it’s great to be assembling ADL vehicles again and to understand how we can build these vehicles at volume to meet the Government’s zero emission targets. Importantly, we have invested in four new apprentices whose skills we have already seen grow massively over the last five months, and we are already looking to increase our apprentice numbers further next year.”

Howick & Eastern by Transdev General Manager, Sheryll Otway, said: “Clean, green, zero emissions transport is vital for keeping communities connected in a sustainable way. As a group, Transdev have set a target to reduce our emissions globally by 30% by 2030, and the new state-of-the-art fleet will help us to do just that.

“We are proud to be partnering with Alexander Dennis and Kiwi Bus Builders to support the local manufacturing industry and secure highly skilled jobs in Aotearoa. The transitioning to net zero does not occur without the support, vision and investment of progressive and innovative partners like Auckland Transport. Zero-emissions transport in New Zealand is certainly exciting and Howick & Eastern by Transdev is proud to be part of it.”

Auckland Transport’s Metro Decarbonisation Manager, Darek Koper, says: “We are delighted that Auckland’s transition to zero emission buses has created an opportunity to contribute to the local economy, as well as providing the opportunity for industry professionals to upskill their bus-building with new, climate-friendly technology.

“This important work is crucial in supporting the goals of Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland’s Climate Plan. Auckland Transport is well on its way to transitioning to an emissions-free public transport fleet, which will have a number of benefits for our city, including improved air quality within the city centre, healthier communities and it will lessen our footprint on the environment.”

New Zealand is preparing to fully transition its bus fleet to zero emission vehicles by 2035 as part of a wider set of measures intended to help meet the country’s 2050 carbon neutral target.