Sustainable mobility is gaining momentum in the UAE with the launch and trial runs of both battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

A zero-emissions bus designed specifically for hot climates was unveiled in January 2018 at the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week event.

The Eco-bus, manufactured in the UAE, is an all-electric vehicle with a lightweight aluminium body and dimensions of 10.5m x 2.5m x 3.2m.

It uses temperature-resistant, water-cooled batteries located at its rear to enhance space efficiency.

The bus has a range of up to 150km per charge when driven on a stop-start basis. It seats 27 with safe-standing room for additional passengers. A low-entry floor offers easy boarding.

The Eco-bus project is being developed as a template for future sustainable public transport solutions.

The working prototype was jointly developed by Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) and Abu Dhabi-based Hafilat Industry in collaboration with the Masdar Institute, part of Khalifa University of Science and Technology.

Technology partner Siemens provided the bus’s engine giving the vehicle a range of 150km per charge while minimising the size and weight of its battery.

Iyad Al Ansari, CEO of Hafilat Industry, said: “The Eco-Bus design is highly scalable, and we look forward to demonstrating the commercial viability of our prototype.”

Uwe Troeger, senior executive vice president, digital factory and process industries and drives, Siemens Middle East, said: “This highly efficient traction motor technology is in operation around the world including Europe, North America and China, and we’re proud to be working with partners here in the UAE to develop the Eco-bus for sustainable transport in the Middle East. We believe strongly that co-creation and partnerships are key to encourage local innovation, and the Eco-Bus is a perfect example of what can be achieved with the right partners, technology and mindset.”

The Eco-bus will undergo trials at Masdar City in Abu Dhabi as engineers evaluate the performance of its battery and electrical systems in the UAE’s arid conditions.

Khalid Al Hashim, executive director for surface transport at Abu Dhabi department of transport, said: “High temperatures throughout the year have been an obstacle to the wider use of electric vehicles in the Gulf, which the Eco-bus promises to address. The Eco-Bus integrates with a number of sustainable mobility initiatives under way in Abu Dhabi and the UAE and complements the diversification goals of the UAE Vision 2021.”

Masdar City has been a pioneer of sustainable mobility, introducing the world’s first permanent driverless Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system in 2010, which had carried more than 2 million passengers by the end of 2016.

An extension to the PRT system is currently being evaluated. Masdar Institute researchers advised the Eco-bus design team on parts and materials, battery management, cooling, energy consumption, route planning and environmental impact auditing.

Yousef Baselaib, executive director of sustainable real estate at Masdar, said: “Urban sustainability will increasingly be defined by innovation in mobility, and Masdar City will be at the centre of this shift towards more sustainable transport solutions. The Eco-Bus is an impressive example of home-grown clean-tech innovation and a model collaboration between UAE and international experts. Rolling out the Eco-Bus for use at Masdar City will hopefully inspire other UAE clean-tech innovators while enhancing the performance of electric buses in hot climates.”