A new electric bus will join the Canberra transport network in a 12-month trial as the ACT government begins transitioning to wholly electric bus fleet by 2040, it was announced on Monday.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the new bus, sourced from Chinese manufacturer Yutong, would be tested in local conditions to determine its suitability ahead of future procurement decisions.
"Undoubtedly electric vehicles are the way of the future and it will be important for the ACT, as we make that transition, to undertake trials like this to ascertain the best vehicles for our network and address any issues," Mr Barr said.
Mr Barr also emphatically denied any plans to trial a territory-wide car free day as part of the overall transport plan.
He said car-free periods would be held at specific locations next year during the Multicultural Festival weekend and Enlighten.
The ACT undertook a previous trial of electric buses that was plagued with reliability issues that saw the buses miss more than one-third of their services.
However, transport minister Chris Steel assured the Yutong bus was a more modern electric vehicle that had operated successfully in hundreds of cities globally, including in NSW.
Yutong is the world's largest bus manufacturer.
"We'd like to see our diesel vehicles replaced unit for unit by fully electric vehicles delivering the same reliability and all of the benefits electric vehicles provide," Mr Steel said.
The territory would need to purchase 84 new buses in the next few years, Mr Steel advised, and from 2025 no more diesel vehicles will be purchased.
The government has leased the bus for a year at a cost of $122,000 and has an option to extend the lease or buy out the vehicle.
Mr Steel said government calculations showed the whole of life costs for electric buses were lower than diesel buses and the unit costs were decreasing each year.
A delegation from Yutong came to Canberra to deliver their "baby" and vice director of overseas market Kent Chang said he was very confident the bus would be successful in the capital.
He said each bus was designed to meet the requirements of each city where they were to operate.
The Yutong electric bus will take six hours to charge fully. It will be charged overnight at the Tuggeranong depot.
With investment in electricity infrastructure, Mr Steel said the bus could be charged in four hours and had a one hour fast charge capability. It has a range of 400 kilometres when fully charged.
He said in the long-term greater investment would be put into the charging infrastructure, with the Woden bus depot, which is under construction, expected to have capacity for a larger electric fleet.