World’s First Hydrogen Bus Company Secures UK Funding
Northern Ireland bus company Wrightbus have received £50 million in funding from UK Export Finance to boost exports of hydrogen-powered buses.
This Export Development Guarantee sees the UK’s export credit agency guarantee 80 percent of the loan from Barclays Bank.
This latest funding builds on financing received in November last year when the company received £26 million in similar funding from the government.
Additionally, last month, Wrightbus accepted a further £12 million in joint government and industry-backed funding. The Ballymena-based company have been operating for over 75 years, and have recently overseen the development of the world’s first zero-emissions double-deck hydrogen bus.
CEO Jean-Marc Gales said: “UKEF and Barclays’ support has been fundamental to the development of Wrightbus. The flexible products suit the needs of our business, which is growing exponentially and requires financial headroom.
We are excited about our next phase and working within the Ballymena and wider Northern Ireland community to deliver innovative British technology to the global market.
An increase in exports will create local jobs
After generating 27% of its revenues from exports in 2022, the company seek to grow this by nearly a fifth by the end of this year, with the support from the UK Government.
Having already established export contacts to Australia and Germany, this additional funding allows the company to deliver orders to new markets in North America and Germany, as well as existing markets in Singapore and Hong Kong.
In order to achieve this growth, the company plan to double their workforce over the course of three years, creating 1,000 new green jobs based in Ballymena.
Minister for Investment Lord Johnson said: “Wrightbus is a fantastic example of a British business seizing the vast exporting opportunities around the world and embracing clean growth.
“UK Export Finance support for Wrightbus will be a great boost to its exporting journey, helping the company to create more local growth and jobs.
“This is the type of success we will build on at this autumn’s Northern Ireland Investment Summit, which will be a catalyst for securing more investment, creating more jobs and empowering more businesses to seize exporting opportunities.”
Wrightbus is committed to delivering green transportation
Wrightbus currently operate the UK’s largest hydrogen fleet with over 100 buses in operation. Their hydrogen-powered, zero-carbon buses are also in high demand worldwide, with 450 hydrogen-powered, zero-carbon buses exported last year.
By the end of 2023, the company expect to deliver over 600 buses.
This comes three years after the world’s first hydrogen-powered double-deck bus was launched by Wrightbus in 2020. Dubbed ‘The Hydroliner’, the bus was officially entered into operation in Aberdeen in 2021. Later that year, Transport for London also launched their first Hydroliner bus.
This year, the company also launched The Kite Hydroliner, a single-deck hydrogen-powered bus. These are expected to be in service in the UK this summer, and available to European customers by the end of 2023.
With an aim to manufacture 3000 zero-emissions buses by 2024, the company’s buses are set to comprise 10% of the UK’s total fleet.