Chairman & CEO's interview with China Press Berhad - "10 Times Faster than Charging Electric Buses - Hydrogen is the Future of Public Transport"

28 July 2023, Kuala Lumpur
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(28 July 2023, Kuala Lumpur) The wave of new energy is coming. As Malaysia is promoting the use of electric buses, it is also exploring the future path of hydrogen-powered buses. Mr. Zhang Kun (Cliff), Chairman and CEO of Templewater, points out that compared to pure electric buses, hydrogen buses are a better public transport option, and the sector contains huge development opportunities.

Mr. Zhang is one of the 30 business leaders accompanying Hong Kong Chief Executive, Mr. John Lee, on his visit to Malaysia. Templewater is the parent company of Bravo Transport Services Limited (“Bravo Transport”),one of Hong Kong's main public transport operators, which owns Citybus and New World First Bus, the largest bus operator on Hong Kong Island.

In an exclusive interview with China Press, Mr. Zhang pointed out that for commercial vehicles, pure electric buses have lower economic benefits. In addition to the 4-ton battery limiting the load and passenger capacity, the charging time of 2.5 to 3 hours also affects bus route operations.

"Given the hot and humid climates of both Hong Kong and Malaysia, air conditioning is a necessity, albeit one that leads to substantial power consumption. The hilly terrains and sloping roads only add to this energy demand. As a result, a fully charged electric vehicle can cover a distance of only 200 km. In stark contrast, a diesel bus can traverse a remarkable 500 km on a single tank of fuel."

Hydrogen’s Range Comparable to Diesel Vehicles

Citybus introduced the world's first three-axle double-decker hydrogen bus last year, which has been in operation for more than a year. Mr. Zhang found that compared to electric buses, hydrogen buses do not need such a large battery, and the weight of the hydrogen tank cylinder is similar to that of a traditional fuel tank.

At the same time, the hydrogen refilling process takes only about 10 to 15 minutes, and it can travel more than 300 kilometers, comparable to a diesel bus, and its environmental performance is even better.

Mr. Zhang believes that the development of new energy in the field of public transportation has become an "irreversible" trend. Whether it is Malaysia or other overseas markets, the promotion of new energy in the future is only a matter of time and speed.

"Currently, hydrogen buses are still in the initial stage of development, and there is still insufficient infrastructure construction, including hydrogen refueling stations, manufacturing, storage, and transportation solutions. Evidently, hydrogen presents a substantial opportunity for development across companies worldwide. Its adoption not only promotes infrastructure investment but also fuels job creation."

In fact, Malaysia welcomed three hydrogen buses in Kuching, Sarawak in 2021, and the Selangor government is also considering introducing hydrogen buses within the next five years.

Participation in Sarawak's Hydrogen Bus Tender

Upon arriving in Malaysia, Mr. Zhang revealed that Wisdom Motor, a portfolio company of Templewater, is participating in the tender for55 hydrogen bus orders from Sarawak Metro Private Limited, and the results are expected to be announced in the third quarter.

"This highlights the Malaysian government's attention and thoughts on hydrogen buses. As current practitioners, we can share some experiences with the Malaysian government and businesses, and we hope to participate in the development of Malaysia's new energy public transport sector in the future."

When asked about the cost of new energy buses, Mr. Zhang admitted that electric and hydrogen buses are 35% to 50% more expensive than diesel buses, but as the technology matures and applications become widespread, future costs will come down further.

In terms of increasing the usage rate of urban public transport, Mr. Zhang said that the development of the bus system requires government policy coordination, including the construction of bus-only lanes to ensure that bus efficiency is not affected.

In addition, he believes that the government can provide incentives for people using public transport, which may attract more people to take the bus.

As for operators, in addition to optimizing routes, bus companies should also provide incentives and education for drivers, including punctuality as a key performance indicator (KPI) and avoiding emergency braking or stopping to improve passenger experience.

*The above news article was translated by Templewater

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