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New fleet

McGill’s buys electric buses from China and Falkirk

Easdales are committed to McGill’s

McGill’s, the UK’s largest independent bus operator, is buying 35 electric buses, most of which will be built in China and the remainder supplied by Falkirk-based Alexander Dennis.

The £17.5 million order comprises 23 single-deck buses for the Johnstone to Glasgow route and 12 double-deckers for Xplore Dundee which was acquired by McGill’s from National Express in December.

Alexander Dennis will supply the 12 double-deckers plus one single-deck bus.

The bulk of the order – 22 buses – will built by Pelican Yutong whose E12 electric bus has been operating in Europe for more than five years and in the UK since 2017. The vehicles will be fully commissioned and completed at a Pelican facility in Castleford, West Yorkshire.

Yutong is the largest bus manufacturer in the world with a daily output of more than 400 vehicles from its giant factory in Zhengzhou and a 12% share of the global market for medium and large sized buses. There are more than 117,700 Yutong electric vehicles in service around the world.

Yutong’s giant factory in Zhengzhou

As part of its investment into clean technology, McGill’s will install electrical charging infrastructure at its depots in Johnstone and Dundee.

The electric buses and infrastructure will be delivered in the second half of this year, in advance of the COP26 conference. McGill’s investment is aided by the Scottish Ultra Low Emission Bus Scheme.

In addition to the all-electric transportation, McGill’s also announced that it is in advanced talks with a variety of partners to bring 12 hydrogen buses into the business in the next 12 months.

The new fleet purchase takes McGill’s capital investment since 2014 to more than £50m of which about £40m has been spent on new vehicles.

Ralph Roberts, chief executive, said: “Customer and driver comfort is at the forefront of our specification and we are confident that bus users will enjoy the silence and comfort, safe in the knowledge that their already low-emission journeys are now zero emission at the point of use, with the benefits that brings for air quality and the environment.

“We led the charge on introducing clean diesel Euro VI fleet and by the end of 2021, the McGill’s Group will operate more electric buses than any other operator in Scotland.”

The company is owned by Scottish businessmen and investors Sandy and James Easdale, whose portfolio includes commercial and residential property, transport, manufacturing and hospitality interests.

Sandy Easdale said: “The transport sector continues to be affected by the pandemic but this hasn’t dented our confidence in the business – far from it.

“When we purchased Xplore Dundee in December we promised we would continue to invest.”

James Easdale added: “The last 18 months has seen Sandy and I announce construction projects worth more than £400m as well as the planned £20m redevelopment of the Watt Brothers store in Glasgow.

“Whilst we’ve been asked if our focus has shifted from transport to property, this deal for new vehicles demonstrates that McGill’s continues to be a key business for us and one which we will continue to grow.”

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