Revamped coach building company Wrightbus is planning to double its output next year, with management promising to produce 600 buses, of which 70% will be zero emission.
The company announced the ambitious plan during a visit to its Ballymena factory by First Minister Paul Givan.
Wrightbus, which went bust in 2019 with the loss of 1,200 jobs, was bought over in October of that year by the Bamford Bus Company, owned by Jo Bamford.
The workforce was back up to 620 last year, according to the company’s annual accounts, with the firm announcing in the summer a further 300 positions would be created as it maps out a strategy to become a leader in the field of zero emission buses.
Mr Givan visited Wrightbus “to see the groundbreaking technology that is powering zero emission buses across the UK and Ireland”, according to the company.
“We were delighted to be able to share with the First Minister our vision and plans for Wrightbus to support the decarbonisation of public transport across the UK and Ireland on our journey towards net zero emissions,” said Wrightbus chief executive Buta Atwal.
“Next year we will be producing around 600 buses — almost double the number we have produced in 2021 — which will go into service across the UK and the island of Ireland.
“We will also see a significant switch in our output from 70% diesel buses in 2021 to around 70% zero emission buses in 2022.
“This is a fantastic endorsement of the UK Government’s, and our customers’, commitment to sustainable, environmentally friendly transport.”
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has announced plans to invest more than £100m in a zero emission bus fleet.
The first part is a £74m investment in 100 zero emission buses, which includes 20 hydrogen-fuelled vehicles, along with associated works.
Wrightbus produces a hydrogen double decker bus, the Streetdeck Hydroliner, and a fast-charging electric double decker, the Electroliner.
“The Government has been clear that hydrogen plays a key role in the country’s net zero ambitions,” continued Mr Atwal.
“Working at scale, Wrightbus has a clear plan in place to reduce the costs of the buses to be comparable to diesel for the total cost of ownership.
“Not only will it secure and grow jobs at our factory in Ballymena, it will support the many other innovative businesses, supporting the growth of a hydrogen sector.”
Source: Belfast Telegraph