Optare plc has been crowned the winner of SMMT’s 2012 Award for Automotive Innovation, for its Optare Versa EV – the UK’s first fully operational, full-sized, battery-powered electric bus.
Beating off strong competition from across the car, component and intelligent mobility sectors, the Optare Versa EV scooped SMMT’s annual award, which highlights the importance of R&D and innovation in the industry. The award, sponsored by GKN Driveline and supported by The Times, was presented to Optare’s Chief Executive Officer, Jim Sumner and Chief Technical Officer, Glenn Saint at SMMT’s Annual Dinner.
Commending the winner of this year’s Award, Paul Everitt, SMMT Chief Executive and Chair of the judging panel said, “Optare has pioneered the development of the UK’s only full-sized electric bus, reaffirming the sector’s commitment to lowering vehicle emissions while offering fleet operators enhanced efficiency and tangible cost savings. This Award seeks out innovations that have the potential to leave a lasting impact on industry and it’s fantastic to have a champion that truly demonstrates why the UK is recognised as a world-leading technological innovator.”
Receiving the award on behalf of Optare, CEO Jim Sumner said, “On behalf of all our employees at Optare it gives me immense pride to collect this very prestigious award, which is the culmination of three years hard work by our team. We passionately believe that the future of the bus industry lies in EV and that Optare’s demonstrated market leadership will be sustained in the years to come as zero emission technology takes off.”
Nigel Stein, Chief Executive, GKN said, “Britain has a great record of outstanding automotive engineering achievement and at GKN we are proud to sponsor the SMMT Award for Automotive Innovation for which there have been some excellent entries this year. All aspects of automotive mobility are in a state of fundamental change and to find a greener solution to the challenge of public transport has to be a priority. Optare has once again delivered with the 50-seat Versa EV bus and we applaud its ability to respond effectively to the demands for more sustainable public mobility solutions for the future.”
Developed from the 27-seater Optare Solo EV that was launched in 2010, the Versa EV makes use of recent advances in battery technology and the development of fast charging systems. Designed and engineered at Optare’s exclusive UK facility in North Yorkshire, the Versa EV boasts impressive environmental credentials with zero tailpipe emissions and reduced noise and is capable of carrying around 50 passengers.
This year’s Award was judged by a panel of senior industry leaders and enthusiasts, including Ian Downing, Investment Director, Business Growth Fund; Robert Lea, Industrial Editor, The Times; Robert Llewellyn, British actor and electric vehicle enthusiast and Dave Salt, Chief Engineer, GKN Driveline.