Mumbai: Nitin Gadkari unveils double decker e-Bus at YB Chavan centre

The electric bus will reportedly ferry twice the number of seated passengers, has contemporary styling and feel-good interiors and exteriors, with the latest safety standards.

Staff ReporterUpdated: Friday, August 19, 2022, 04:43 PM IST
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Mumbai: Nitin Gadkari unveils Double decker e-Bus at YB Chavan centre | Kamal Mishra

The city's iconic double-decker buses are back in a new avatar. Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari unveiled India's first electric double-decker air-conditioned bus – Switch EiV 22 – on Thursday in Mumbai. The bus will join the BEST fleet after completing certain trails and is likely to hit the roads around mid-September. It was manufactured by Switch Mobility – a subsidiary of Ashok Leyland.

Equipped with CCTV cameras, these buses with a carrying capacity of 90 passengers (including 65 seats), will replace the existing double-decker fleet of the BEST. As of now, Switch is operating its twin-floor electric AC buses in the United Kingdom. Switch India has already secured an order of 200 electric double-decker buses in Mumbai and is looking at a dominant space in the electric double-decker segment, across key regions in the country. The new bus is also fitted with an advanced air suspension system, making it more adept at handling jerks as compared to buses in the existing fleet.

Designed, developed and manufactured in India by utilising Switch's global electric bus experience, the Switch EiV 22 is equipped with the latest technology, sports an ultra-modern design, and provides the highest safety and best-in-class comfort features.

The manufacturer claims that Switch EiV 22 is the world’s first semi-low floor, AC electric double-decker with a wider door at the rear and a rear staircase. It sits on a lightweight aluminium body which helps in achieving a higher passenger-to-weight ratio and a competitive cost per passenger per km.

According to Mahesh Babu, CEO, Switch Mobility India, the optimised seating for 65 passengers is the maximum number of seats to be offered in the given footprint. Each seat has a lightweight cushion and the interiors come with car-like comfort for passenger convenience. The length of the bus ranges between 10.5 metres and 11.1 metres, and it is powered by a 250kW electric motor, with a driving range of up to 250 km on a single charge. The batteries will take around 80 minutes for a full charge.

BEST has awarded a contract to a private company for the supply of 900 electric buses in phases. Of these, around 250 buses are expected to be delivered by December 2022 and the remaining will be delivered next year.

On this occasion, Gadkari said, “The government was trying to build a low footprint and a high passenger density integrated EV mobility ecosystem. It gives me immense pleasure to launch Ashok Leyland's electric double-decker bus in Mumbai today. He added that giving a dynamic boost to the sustainable transportation sector, such initiatives are cost-effective solutions and achieve the prime minister's vision of an 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' by cutting down oil imports and promoting indigenous resources and services.

“There is a need to transform the country’s transport system from a long-term perspective. With a focus on reforming urban transport, we are trying to build a low footprint and high passenger density integrated EV mobility ecosystem. The government’s vision and policies are supportive towards EV adoption with growing consumer demand for greener solutions,” Gadkari added further.

“We are confident that our new zero-emission double-decker bus will deliver a cleaner and more sustainable future, reinforcing our commitment to India and the globe,” said Ashok Hinduja, chairman of the Hinduja Group of Companies (India) which owns Ashok Leyland.

Mahesh Babu added that Mumbai and double-deckers are synonymous with public transport. “We are certain that Switch EIV 22 will not only bring back fond memories for Mumbaikars but will transform the public transport space in terms of sustainability and footprint, which is the need of the hour in India,” Babu said.

According to Babu, Switch Mobility India has strived to meet multiple challenges to fulfil new age customer requirements, while retaining the iconic double-decker lineage. “The Switch EIV 22 is designed and developed to meet Indian conditions, while at the same time providing superior customer comfort and delight,” he said.

Driver speaks

Rajendra Borkar, 54, who drove the bus from Navi Mumbai to Mumbai said, “Driving this bus is more comfortable and easy. It is equipped with an advanced driving system and anyone can easily handle it. I think it's easier to drive this bus, as compared to existing buses on the fleet.

Details about the bus

Carrying capacity

90 (65 seated)

Uses advanced electric technology

250 km range on 80 min charge

250 electric AC double-deckers by Dec 2022

650 more to be introduced in 2023

Latest in styling, technology, safety, comfort & environmental compatibility

Wide front and rear doors, 2 staircases & emergency exit

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