The GoKL City Bus free bus service is set to make the move to electrification, continuing Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL)’s ongoing plans to turn KL into a low-carbon city. As of November 1, the service will begin the switch to electric buses, with the first vehicle operating in the Wangsa Maju area.

Following this, additional units will join the fleet starting from early next year, and the eventual deployment plan will see a total of 60 units of the electric bus being utilised in the GoKL free bus service. They will eventually replace all the existing diesel-powered units currently in operation by early 2023.

In line with the switch, the bus livery is also being changed to green. At the launch of the electric bus today, FT minister Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim also announced that two new feeder routes are being added to the service, effective November 1.

These are the Parrot Green Line, a 13.8 km-long route from the Maluri MRT Transit Hub to Bandar Sri Permaisuri, and the Gray Line, a 16.7 km-long route from the Cochrane MRT terminal to Bandar Tun Razak. These join the four city (last mile) and five feeder (first mile) routes already in existence.

Some notes on the electric bus that will feature in the GoKL City Bus service. It’s built in Malaysia by SKS Coachbuilders, which is part of SKS Group, a local bus manufacturer. Aside from the driveline and electrical components (which are imported from China), the bus is fully fabricated here at the company’s facility in Kampung Pulau Meranti, Puchong, something that the company is especially proud of.

It can carry 31 passengers (21 seated, 10 standing) and has a maximum speed of 70 km/h, but optimally works best at speeds of up to 55-60 km/h. The energy storage consists of 299 kWh of capacity, available from eight lithium-ion traction battery packs housed at the rear of the bus. This provides up to 250 km of travel on a single charge.

Quoted charge times to full range are roughly from around 1.5 hours with the battery at 40% SOC to nearly three hours at an lower SOC. Incidentally, the origins of the driveline system is also why the charging system uses a China-specific GB/T Type 2 connector, in which the inlet on vehicles are female, opposite to that elsewhere.

According to SKS, which will operate and maintain the electric bus fleet, standard charging will be carried out overnight at its own depot, which will be located somewhere strategically in the city.