Switch Mobility Ltd drives India’s first electric double-decker bus. Ashish Bhatia finds out how the company aspires to rekindle the joy of commuting in line with its motto of offering affordable, zero-emission Mobility solutions.

After double-deckers were on the verge of being phased out, it seemed the end of the road for a popular mode of transport. The BEST pioneered the operations of double deckers in the late sixties when Ashok Leyland Ltd offered them in India. With growing urbanisation, and the need for reducing carbon footprint coupled with the introduction of compact BEST buses, only 48 older generation, double-deckers are known to operate today. With both the Central and State governments coming together as per Mahesh Babu, CEO – of Switch Mobility India, and COO – of Switch Mobility Ltd, it became easier to introduce the next generation electric double-decker EiV 22, a nine-metre bus. That Union Minister, Nitin Gadkari backed the launch is the testimony, he exclaimed. The bus due for homologation and a host of other processes could see its road journey begin latest by Q42022.

Drawing from the experience of running 100 such buses in the UK for Transport for London (TfL), the bus has been designed, developed and manufactured in India from the Chennai plant. The bodywork has been done here in Mumbai. Utilising Switch’s global electric bus experience, Switch EiV 22 is claimed to have been equipped with the latest technology, ultra-modern design, highest safety and best-in-class comfort features. The renewed iconic bus is designed to revolutionise public transportation in the intra-city bus segment. The Switch EiV 22 is a significant achievement in terms of packaging, making it the world’s first – semi-low floor, air-conditioned, an electric double-decker with a wider door on the rear overhang and a rear staircase. The double-decker has a lightweight aluminium body construction, which offers a higher passenger-to-weight ratio and a competitive cost per km, per passenger, explained Babu.

Dheeraj Hinduja, Chairman – of Switch Mobility, commenting on the launch, said, “It’s an extremely proud moment for us as we bring back the iconic double-decker to India. Ashok Leyland was a pioneer among Indian manufacturers when it first launched the double-decker in 1967 in Mumbai and Switch is carrying forward that legacy. With our strong expertise in double deckers, both in India and UK and with over 100 Switch electric double-deckers in service on UK roads, we are happy to not only bring back this icon to life but also reinforce our commitment to creating this form factor for India and the globe.” “We have strived to meet multiple challenges to fulfil new age customer requirements while retaining the iconic double-decker lineage. The Switch EiV 22 is designed and developed to meet Indian conditions, while at the same time providing superior customer comfort and delight. Mumbai and double-deckers are synonymous with public transport, and we are certain that Switch EiV 22 will not only bring back fond memories for Mumbaikars, but it will transform the public transport space in terms of sustainability and footprint which is the need of the hour in India,” added Babu. The bus will be taken to other regions pan India and also offered as customised variants to private operators in the future, he confirmed.

The Switch double-decker can ferry nearly twice the number of seated passengers as a comparable single-decker bus with just an 18 per cent increase in kerb weight. The architecture of the double-decker uses a 650 V system – the same platform as Switch EiV 12 launched in June 2022, which is also common with Switch e1. With contemporary styling and feel-good interiors and exteriors, the double-decker boasts wide front and rear doors, two staircases and an emergency door complying with the latest safety standards. The AC offers effective cooling in India’s hot climatic conditions, while the optimised seating for 65 passengers is the maximum number of seats to be offered in the given footprint.

Each seat has a lightweight cushion and the interiors come with car-like comfort for passenger convenience. This state-of-the-art electric bus serves as an ideal solution for urban commuting, as they occupy less road, terminal and depot floor space per seated passenger. Powering Switch EiV 22 is a 231 kWh capacity, 2-string, liquid-cooled, higher density NMC chemistry battery pack with a dual gun charging system. This enables the bus to have a range of up to 250 km for intra-city applications.

Switch India has already secured an order of 200 electric double-decker buses in Mumbai and is looking at a dominant space in the electric double-decker segment, across key regions in the country. Bus components are manufactured in India which will enable to achieve FAME II compliance. The company has leveraged synergies with companies like Dana.

Watch out for more details in the upcoming issue of CV and exclusive interaction with the senior leadership at Switch Mobility India on our Youtube Channel.


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