KUALA LUMPUR (September 12): Electric vehicles are the future, and Putrajaya is meeting that future head on, to go fully electric by 2021.
Gets Global Bhd manages the fleet of Nadiputra buses in the administrative capital, and have said that their current fleet are mostly natural gas vehicles (NGV) and are older vehicles in need of being replaced, reports The Star.
Managing director Datuk Che Azizuddin Che Ismail said that to this end, RM35mil would be invested in setting up a research and development centre.
“This will be done in cooperation with multinational companies to make our own batteries and manufacture electric buses. We have a bus manufacturing plant in Taiping, Perak,” he said in an interview with the daily.
The total number of vehicles that Nadiputra currently has is 165 NGV buses and 10 electric ones.
The electric buses cost RM2mil each, and have been on the road for the last two years.
Obtained through an arrangement between Putrajaya Corporation (PPj) —the former manager of the fleet— and New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (Nedo).
The Japanese government spent RM40mil in developing the battery in these buses.
“The battery is good but can be improved further by installing a new cooling system. The battery that we are developing will be a better version which is more suitable for our climate and humidity.
“We are also in talks with Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand about this technology and hope to commercialise it in South-East Asia,” said Che Azizuddin.
“Electric buses are the future. They are perfect for cities where the routes are shorter and there are frequent stops to pick up passengers.
“Shorter routes mean smaller batteries and less charging time. The current electric buses can travel 30km with just 10 minutes of charging.
“The charging does not disrupt operations as it is done via the roof charger when the bus stops to pick up passengers. The buses can also travel further if charged for longer.”
City buses were rarely profitable, said Che Azizuddin. Most operators around the world were subsidised by the government.
“City buses are required to run the routes at a fixed frequency, regardless of the number of passengers.
“The bus service was very poor when we took over. Only about 20 buses were running within Putrajaya. We came in and put 100 buses on the road and people were happy with the service from January to March.
“We applied for a grant (to sustain the operations) but it did not come through so we had to reduce the number of buses by half from April onwards.
“We cannot stop the service as Nadiputra is the only bus service operating here,” he was quoted as saying by The Star.
Another big challenge faced by Gets Global was managing the drivers.
“There were a lot of leakages and discipline problems when we took over. The drivers were used to working under PPj.
“When we bought an 80% stake, we took measures to cut costs and increase productivity which did not go down well with some drivers.”
Drivers protested some of the new measures, causing service disruptions on July 31 and Aug 13.
They had to explain their goal to establish a sustainable operation for Nadiputra in the long-term to Federal Territories Ministry and PPj.
“With the support from all parties including the government, I hope operations will improve soon.
"We can have more buses back on the road, the drivers will be able to earn a better income and commuters in Putrajaya will enjoy better service.”