Having sampled the Optare Metrodecker-EV during August 2017, First York are now trialing the latest electric vehicle on offer from Chinese firm Yutong the E12FL.
The company was established in 1963 and based in Zhengzhon, Henan, China, were it continues to build Buses and Commercial products. However, since 2016, Yutong have begun to commence building fully electric vehicles, with trials in Paris and Lyon during February and June 2016. These trials saw an impressive 13 hour working day covering some 107Km as well. Naturally Chinese bus companies have taken to the Yutong electric range, with some 50,000 units built since 2016.
Seen at the 2016 Expo bus and coach exhibition, held at the NEC in Birmingham, is the first 12-meter E12LF saloon which would start trials with Arriva Merseyside in early 2017. The bus would find use by Whippet of Cambridge and Nottingham Council during 2017.
First York 62990
Towards the end of 2017, First York had gained this unique vehicle for trails across its Park & Ride network, this would commence in early 2018. It was planned to run the bus during Thursday January 4th, 2018, however a couple of technical problems led to 62990 venturing out later than planned. By Tuesday January 9th the bus was able to work a full day in service, so far working on the 3 Askham Bar and the 7 Designer Outlet routes.
Here 62990 (YK66CBC) is seen entering the Designer Outlet Park & Ride bus entrance while working on Wednesday January 10th, 2018. The bus carries a plain white livery with the addition on the First York names, above the doors and on the drivers’ window, plus two large stylized York logos on the sides of the bus. After chatting to the driver, I managed to take a few interior shots after asking permission of course. Then it was time to set off into York, on particularly wet day.
Riding on 62990
The first impression of the demonstrator vehicle is the standard of the layout, which quite unusual for an UK operator. From the drivers’ cab, the saloon opens out with four seats placed over the front axles, then the nearside wheelchair zone, which is given a large logo to indicate that areas intention/use. Ten seats are within the remaining low floor area six on the offside and four on the nearside. Provision for a specific buggy zone would be essential if UK companies take on the E12LF. Beyond the centrally placed emergency exit door on the offside, are the remaining 22 seats leading towards the rear of the bus
The interior has a light and airy feel, with the air conditioning unit blowing air to allow for a pleasant environment within the vehicle. The reason for the slightly raised rear section of the saloon roof, is because the nine of the 16 on board Battery packs are placed directly above the low floor section, while the other seven are in the traditional rear end engine bay. The polished steel hand rails are around the whole saloon, with a section for passengers to hold onto while standing. An astonishing 21 bell push buttons are within the saloon, all on the grab rails. Ten hopper type opening windows are around the saloon, with one lone small skylight window towards the rear of the bus. To finish the interior description, with the subject of the seats. Which are a basic shape of a grey plastic colour back and a pleasant blue pattern cloth, which is thinner. Some passengers might be unimpressed with the seats, but lets face its a demonstrator bus is to give a flavour of the bus as a whole. Having said that for the 18-minute journey into York, the seats were more than adequate for the short trip.
As with the BYD options available in London on the TfL routes the 507 & 521 and the five double deckers on the 98 route, the Yutong offers some decent acceleration, when setting off from a stop. On this outbound journey the passengers were very positive about the bus, enjoying the new technology, entering the electric era. The ride quality of the E12LF was very impressive, which passengers also liked.
Apart from the major road works taking place in Fulford, there was very little delay to the service. Two screens are also within the bus and these display route details and even plays a short Yutong promotion film, but the screens show a Nexus (WMPTE) route screen, which might amuse some passengers. After a driver change at Micklegate, the bus ventured forward to Station Rise and then the Railway station stop. Passengers alighted, and the bus continued back to the Designer Outlet P&R site. It would be of interest if ADL offer one of the BYD/ADL electric saloons for a period of demonstration for comparison to this Yutong vehicle. Currently York operate some 15 Optare Versa-EV saloons, which work on the 9 and 59 routes on the Park & Ride services.
Passengers will find the bus quieter then the Optare buses, but with the familiar whines of the electric motor. overall the product has many typical advances of Chinese technology with both BYD and Yutong competing in the market.
62990 is seen here on Station Rise a popular area for transport enthusiasts to photograph York buses, with the Minster dominating the background. The air-con unit is on the roof in front of the large battery power pack, the doors are of Yutong’s own make. The heavily tinted windows along the bus sides are clearly seen, which restrict natural light into the saloon.
The Yutong E12LF is a pleasant enough vehicle, with decent acceleration, braking and average seating, offering a pretty good ride for the regular passengers on the Park & Ride service. The interior is a bright white affair with plastic mouldings for the window surrounds, with the bonded glazing pressed onto the frame of the interior. I would assume that Yutong would allow operators to install their preferred interior designs, the buggy-zone could be easily added to this bus with a row of seats taken away from the offside. The exterior bodywork could be less angular, but no-doubt Yutong could enter in a partnership with a UK manufacture, just like ADL and BYD have with the electric saloon, in London and now Merseyside.
First York won the contract for the Park & Ride services, for another five years from February 2018, with a mix of Euro 6 and electric double deckers and Euro 6 new look Mercedes-Benz Citaro Articulated buses. First and York City Council are continuing to work together to gain an advantage, to make York a greener, cleaner City.
After a few hours in York, your author decided to return to the Park & Ride designer Outlet and venture home, as the day ended. Here 62990 loads a few more passengers for another trip into York.
I would like to thank Marc Bichtermann, First York and the drivers of 62990, who were very polite and happy to help.