Murray MacGregor – Thursday 1st October 2020 – 6.00am.
West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) has taken a major step forward in reducing its impact on the environment by launching the first fully electric emergency ambulance.
WMAS is at the forefront of developing ambulance technology along with its partner, conversion specialist, VCS of Bradford through the company’s unique construction method to ensure the ambulances are the lightest and most technologically advanced in service anywhere in the world.
The next step of that development is the introduction of the first zero emissions e-Ambulance to be used on UK roads. Its development by VCS reflects emergency services operators’ desire to bring the sector in-line with the global demand for widespread zero emission transport.
VCS has used the expert capabilities available within parent company, Woodall Nicholson Group, to develop the zero emissions powertrain technology which sees the vehicle powered by lithium-ion batteries sited in the underside of the ambulance floor pan in a specifically designed and compliant enclosure. The design has a low centre of gravity and is powered by a 96kW battery pack which provides a top speed of 75 mph and can achieve a range of 105-110 miles with a current recharge time of four hours. Further developments to the vehicle will be introduced to increase its capability including two hour charge time.
WMAS Chief Executive, Anthony Marsh, said: “West Midlands Ambulance Service has been at the forefront of developing ambulance technology and operating a modern fleet for the last ten years.
“Working with industry specialists like VCS, we have used aircraft style technology and design to create the most hi-tech and lightest ambulances in the country. This has continually reduced our impact on the environment by lowering our CO2 levels and ensured that patients receive the highest standards of safety and comfort.
“It is therefore a logical next step for us to be the first ambulance service in our country to introduce a fully electric emergency ambulance. Given Birmingham is introducing a clean air zone, this is a sensible and advantageous step forward for so many reasons.”
The first crew to try out the new vehicle were Emergency Medical Technician Abbie Whitehouse-Marks and Paramedic Hardip Brar. They say it wasn’t long before they got used to new vehicle.
Mark Kerrigan, Managing Director at VCS, said: “As the world moves away from fossil fuels and towards a zero-carbon future, it’s important that the emergency services sector keeps pace. VCS has always been at the forefront of emergency service vehicle innovation, so we saw it as our duty to bring the pioneering electric ambulance to market.
“The vehicle launched today is a strong first step on the path to electrification and we’re confident that by working with outstanding operators, such as West Midlands Ambulance Service, we can continue to innovate and improve our zero emissions offering.”
Designed within the Lord Carter Report national specification, the e-Ambulance includes a number of design elements and features that ensure it is as versatile and usable as possible.
Tony Page, General Manager for Fleet and Facilities Management at WMAS, said: “The aerospace-type technology on board provides enhanced crash structures, which will improve safety while also enhancing the design of the saloon, which will benefit operational staff and patients alike.
“This vehicle will allow us to develop this technology rapidly so that we can develop a zero emissions fleet over the coming years.”
WMAS Director of Strategic Operations and Digital Integration, Craig Cooke, added: “This is a fully equipped ambulance that we want to use to test the technology and move us even further down the path of reducing our impact on the environment.
“This is a huge step forward for the ambulance service in this country and around the world, but because it is the first of its type we will be working with VCS to look at how we can make enhancements so that we can make future vehicles even better.”