Dundee is less than four months away from welcoming the UK’s first electric intercity coach service, running four return trips to Edinburgh per day.
The service, which will be launched by Ember, is another feather in the city’s cap when it comes to supporting and promoting the use of electric vehicles.
With around 3% of its residents now driving electric vehicles, Dundee is already streets ahead of most UK cities and is home to one of the highest concentration of electric vehicles in Britain. The council switched to electric vehicles in 2011 and since then their vehicles have travelled more than 1.1 million miles on electricity.
And in a further boost to green transport across the city, Ember’s privately-run coach service will be launched in Dundee as the first zero-emission intercity coach service in the UK.
Dundee City Council will be installing an ultra-fast charging point next to the Greenmarket car park, designed for coaches and other commercial vehicles. Ember will use this location – which is just a five minute walk from the train station and the V&A – for charging and as a bus stop for passengers.
Ember takes delivery of the first electric coach – a Yutong TCe12 – at the end of March before its scheduled service launches in early May. The zero emissions coach will travel between Dundee and Edinburgh several times a day for £7.50 each way, and a second coach will be added onto the route in the summer.
Keith Bradbury, pictured above, co-founder of Ember, said that he and business partner Pierce Glennie were keen to launch the electric coach service in Scotland, and in Dundee in particular.
Keith explained: “Pierce and I worked together for over five years at a previous company and wanted to launch a business with an environmental focus.
“We wanted something where the technology had reached a tipping point so that it was commercially attractive and could lead to meaningful reductions in emissions.
“Intercity coach services can do exactly this. Due to the high usage of intercity coaches the emissions savings from electrification are large and providing better coach services gives travellers a better alternative to a car – leading to an even bigger impact. The Scottish Government is one of the most progressive when it comes to taking concrete action to reduce carbon emissions. Scotland has committed to achieving net zero emissions five years earlier than the rest of the UK, so it was a great place to launch a business like this.
“Dundee City Council was very supportive of doing something, and its entire agenda on electrification aligns very well with our plans.”
Keith and Pierce, pictured above, have bought the brand new electric coach and launched the initiative using some private investment and their own savings. It’s been a life-changing venture for the pair, especially Bristol-based Keith who is relocating with his family to Edinburgh (where ember’s head office is based) in the summer.
The first intercity electric coach will be based in Dundee and start carrying passengers to Edinburgh at the beginning of May, with a second coach planned for July. Ember is currently looking to hire drivers in Dundee, and its longer-term plan is to introduce more electric coaches on routes across Scotland before expanding across the UK and further afield.
For those travelling to Edinburgh, for business or pleasure, there are many benefits of hopping aboard the electric coach, as Keith points out. “It will be stopping at several locations en route to Edinburgh, including Perth, serving local residents as well as commuters. At £7.50 one way, the price is significantly cheaper than the train or existing coach option.
“The difference in journey time versus a car or a train is minimal and by booking in advance you will be guaranteed a comfortable seat – even at peak times – so no standing. This is a big one, especially for those who currently travel by train.
“We’re fitting out the coaches with a premium spec. That means we’ve got extra legroom, fast wi-fi, and reclining seats. We want to give people a better experience than they can get anywhere else.
All of these benefits are, of course, on top of the fact that there will be no emissions. It will be the most eco-friendly way of making this journey and that’s something we hope people will be excited about.”
Coach provider Ember is just one partnership Dundee City Council has established in a bid to boost its own electric vehicle infrastructure. The local authority is also working with partners including the university of Dundee, NHS Tayside, Dundee and Angus College and local taxi companies with the aim of having a shared network.
The council aims to convert 20% of all vehicles in Dundee to electric by 2027, which will put the city at the forefront of EV technology not only in the UK, but also in Europe.
The new electric coach: the facts
- The TCe12 is one of the first fully electric zero emission coaches in the UK
- It was manufactured in China
- It can carry 49 passengers
- There are already coaches like it running privately in London and publicly in Paris
- It has a 281kwh battery which gives a range of 200-250 miles from a full charge
- It will take less than two hours to charge the TCe12 (using a rapid charger)
Why switch to electric?
FASTER CHARGING. Most of today’s electric vehicles charge in under four hours, but for many EVs you can top up by adding up to 100 miles of range in less than 35 minutes.
FREE TO PARK. Save while you work, shop and play with free off-street parking available in Dundee for EV drivers while your car is charging. It is also free to park in the multi-storeys (no need to be plugged in).
IT IS COST EFFECTIVE. You will save hundreds of pounds every year on fuel costs if you switch from petrol/diesel to electric because charging an EV is cheaper than fuelling. And, because an electric vehicle has fewer moving parts, there’s significantly less maintenance and no oil changes.
GRANTS ARE AVAILABLE. The Energy Saving Trust can provide up to £300 towards installing your home charge point; this is on top of the £500 provided by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles.
INTEREST-FREE LOANS AVAILABLE. If you wish to purchase a new pure electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle you could receive a loan of up to £35,000 or £10,000 for a new electric motorcycle/scooter. The loans, repayable over six years, are available from Energy Saving Trust Scotland and funded by Transport Scotland. For more information, visit the Energy Saving Trust website.
GREENER YOU. Electric vehicles emit zero pollutants and CO2 gas emissions so driving one reduces your carbon footprint and also helps contribute to a cleaner and greener environment in terms of air quality.
SAVE ON FUEL. You will immediately benefit from direct fuel savings. A 100-mile journey costs around £13-20 in a petrol/diesel car, but just £2-4 in an electric vehicle.
TAX FREE. You pay nothing when you tax your low emission and fully electric vehicles, because zero emission EVs are exempt.
DRIVE IN PEACE. EVs have no noise because they do not have an internal combustion engine. New EVs are now fitted with low noise-emitting devices as they were considered to be too quiet and posed a danger to other road users.
CHEAPER TO BUY. Purchasing an EV is much more affordable now as the gap between electric models of cars and petrol/diesel models is narrowing. That is because between 2010 and 2016, the cost of electric car batteries fell by more than 70%.