An EV Dynamics APEX electric minibus, one of the eight new pre-qualified minibuses possibly taking to Hong Kong’s streets in 2023

New electric minibuses and pantograph charging stations are a step closer to deployment next year as the government pre-qualifies new minibus models and selects the first few charging sites, according to an exclusive interview with Hong Kong’s air policy tsar Kenneth Leung Kai-ming.

The government has selected eight new models of electric minibus for a trial of 40 minibuses serving nine public transport interchanges across Hong Kong, starting with Cyberport and Kowloon Tong.

The one-year trial, slated for 2023, aims to test different technology and engineering approaches to electrifying Hong Kong’s minibus fleet, says the Environmental Protection Department (EPD), and will involve seven manufacturers.

Leung, Assistant Director for Air Policy at EPD, told Transit Jam six bus models have formally entered the pre-qualification stage with two more models selected but awaiting final manufacturer sign-off.

To charge the new e-PLBs, EPD will set up nine pantograph charging stations at public transport interchanges (PTIs) across the city.

Leung says Cyberport and Kowloon Tong will be the first two PTIs to welcome the new buses while the third will be in New Territories. He says further sites will be identified later, with some of the older PTIs presenting a challenge in terms of electricity supply.

A source says Transport Department has shared the nine locations in presentations to the minibus trade: they include LOHAS Park, Yuen Long Station North, Tai Kok Tsui, Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, Wong Tai Sin, Sai Wan Ho and North Point Pier, as well as Kowloon Tong and Cyberport mentioned by Leung.

Each charging station will feature an “OppCharge” standard drop-down pantograph at around 300 kW with a charging pole at around 150 kW for plug-in charging.

A list of the new pre-qualified bus models will be released shortly, says Leung, but Transit Jam has obtained an advance copy.

Supplier Model Price / HK$ Range / km
Green Mobility Innovations Limited Thor 1,383,060 45.9
Jupiter EV HK SDL6750EVG 1,500,000 88
E. Tech Dynamic Technology Co XML6722JEV 1,680,000 214
Shui Cheong Motors SOLUTION 1,800,000 77
Shun Hing New Energy Co GTQ6721BEVBT30 2,000,000 100
China Dynamics New Energy Technology Co APEX MINI 2,280,000 85

China Dynamics New Energy Technology, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed mining and electric bus firm EV Dynamics, in one of the firms pre-qualified and says has already received “a small trial order” for its Chongqing-made APEX minibus.

EV Dynamics (named China Dynamics until 22 July 2021), said in a press release it had been “Selected to Supply Electric Light Buses to a Government [sic]”, and in its 2021 annual report that it has already received a Hong Kong order.

But EPD says the buses will be sold directly to the trade, and that the manufacturers still need to obtain type approval from Transport Department for each model and will need confirmation from EPD’s Independent Assessor that the vehicles meet all requirements set out in the technical guidelines before they can be sold.

“There are no orders yet,” says Leung.

EV Dynamics did not yet comment. The company’s CEO, Miguel Valldecabres Polop, who was formerly Chief Financial officer of electric car racing league Formula E, has previously said the firm has a pragmatic approach to the market. “For example, the people in the Philippines, they say, ‘We need an EV solution that takes 25 people that does 80 kilometres a day’. Then we say, ‘We’ll make it for you’. That’s what we call tailor-made solutions,” he told Sustainability last month.

Opportunity charging, or fast pantograph charging, has been proposed as an alternative to carrying heavy batteries and is thought to be a good solution for Hong Kong’s hard-working minibus fleet. The OppCharge standard, with technology from Siemens, has already been demonstrated in a Kwun Tong PTI but Leung says this was an industry-led initiative and not government funded.

“It was very interesting, the [electric minibus] was actually procured by the trade itself, it was not under EPD funding, and they procured it and wanted to start [using it] earlier, so we helped them get the department to review their electrical charging facilities and allow them to install the chargers in the PTI,” says Leung.

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