South Africa’s first electric buses are literally facing an uphill battle in Cape Town, after it emerged that they are unsuited for the city’s mountainous terrain.
According to a report by the Sunday Times, Cape Town councillors heard this week that the 11 buses – which form part of a R128 million pilot project – could not handle many of the inclines in the city.
The councillors were told that the buses are required to be able to achieve 60km/h on a 4% gradient, and that tests were under way to increase the power to drive motors.
Originally slated to replace the current diesel options on the N2 Express route, the buses were set to tackle a number of hill-areas – including Hospital Bend which has a gradient of 6.5%.
The Sunday Times noted that the mechanical problem with the buses – manufactured by BYD of China – follows a forensic probe after allegations that mayor Patricia de Lille and senior city officials set up meetings with BYD before the company clinched the deal.
Speaking to the paper, City of Cape Town spokesperson Priya Reddy said the city could take delivery only once the investigation of the tender was completed.
“The specifications called for battery-powered low-entry buses of 12m nominal length and a minimum range of 200km between charging, as well as depotcharging equipment,” Reddy said.
“The specification was based on the city’s MyCiTi bus specifications, but modified to incorporate an electric motor and battery-powered drive.”