Sheffield-based electric bus pioneer goes into overdrive

A Magtec-powered bus outside Sheffield Town Hall.
A Magtec-powered bus outside Sheffield Town Hall.
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A Sheffield electric drivetrain manufacturer is braced for the market to ‘explode’ - driven by clean air laws and new technology.

Magtec is experiencing unprecedented demand as cities around the world clamp down on diesel buses and trucks. At the same time new batteries can last a ‘full London bus cycle’ of 16-hour days and 160 miles.

The 70-strong company makes electric drive systems for new vehicles, and conversion kits for old ones. It has doubled in size - staff numbers and turnover - in the last year.

Finance director Jenny Peel said they almost couldn’t cope with demand as operators scrambled to meet new emissions laws.

She said: “We are trying to be as ready as possible to manage the change from being a small company to one that can supply major equipment manufacturers.

“We are receiving 20 serious enquiries a month from big operators. We are unique in that we offer a complete solution and we can do it quickly.

“The next six months look very exciting indeed – the market is about to explode.”

In July, London mayor Sadiq Khan said the Ultra-Low Emission Zone for lorries, buses and coaches would apply London-wide from 2020. Magtec deals include a multi-million pound contract with a Chinese off-road vehicle maker, Indian bus builder Ashoka-Leyland and the conversion of six tour buses in York.

The firm makes motors and controls in Sheffield and carries out conversions at its Rotherham site.

Jenny added: “We are not a start-up with a good idea. We have been around for 25 years and make a profit.”

The firm is urging Sheffield City Council to apply to a new Government fund for conversions.

Jenny added: “What we would really like is to sell vehicles in our city – to clean up the air here!”

Magtec took Lib Dem councillors on a tour.

Coun Ian Auckland, transport spokesman for Sheffield Liberal Democrats, said: “I’m very impressed by Magtec. The leaders of this company are committed to South Yorkshire. We need to see them powering vehicles on our streets.”