First Bus places 193-EV bus order with Wrightbus following ZEBRA funding

First Bus has placed one of the UK’s largest electric bus orders with Wrightbus, following successful bids with local authorities as part of the Department for Transport’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Area (ZEBRA) funding scheme.

The £81million order, totalling 193 buses, is the largest EV bus purchase outside of London and will see new zero emission buses being rolled out across England from March 2023.

First Bus will invest £43million in the new vehicles and will be supported to complete the electric fleet project with a £38million grant from the DfT.

The order will be split between the following five areas:

  • Leicester (68 buses) in partnership with Leicester City Council.
  • York (44 Buses) in partnership with City of York Council.
  • Leeds (32 Buses) in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.
  • Norwich (15 Buses) in partnership with Norfolk County Council.
  • Portsmouth (34 Buses) in partnership with Portsmouth City Council & Hampshire County Council.

Each regional project will be completed over the course of the next two years and will mean that First Bus will have more than 500 EV buses working towards its pledge of an entirely zero emission fleet by 2035.

The new EV buses will be fully built in Northern Ireland at the Wrightbus facility in Ballymena.

First Bus UK managing director Janette Bell says: “We are absolutely delighted to place our largest ever zero emission vehicle order and to do so with a UK manufacturer. Wrightbus have a really exciting product that we feel will enhance the customer experience at the same time as benefitting the environment.

“As leaders in sustainable mobility, we are fully aligned with the government’s ambitions for a net-zero carbon transport system, including zero-emission bus fleets. We will continue to work closely with central and local Government across the UK to support the delivery of our shared decarbonisation ambitions and commitments.”

Ben Werth, chief commercial officer, Wrightbus, said: “This is another significant deal for Wrightbus – the largest zero emissions bus order outside of London – and we are delighted to once again be partnering with First Bus in the drive to zero-emission public transport. First Bus, like us, is consistently on the forefront of new and exciting technology and at the forefront of zero- and low-emission travel.

“All of the buses – the GB Kite Electroliner BEV and the StreetDeck Electroliner BEV will be manufactured and assembled at our Ballymena factory, which means support for jobs in NI, and wider across the UK through our domestic supply chain.”