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Chinese electric buses hit road in Malta

China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-17 09:30

Yutong electric buses are seen at a parking lot in Malta's capital Valletta on Friday. PHOTO/XINHUA

VALLETTA — A leading tourist transport operator in Malta has added four electric buses produced by Chinese manufacturer Yutong Bus Co Ltd to its fleet, which is in line with its commitment to go green and curb emissions.

Privately owned Zarb Coaches Ltd formally launched the buses during a ceremony on Friday in Malta's capital Valletta, and they formally started operating on Saturday.

Zarb Coaches' CEO and Managing Director Emanuel Zarb said it was truly a momentous occasion for his company, founded by his grandfather in 1947 with just one bus.

It now operates a fleet of 25 buses that all run on diesel and are used to transport school children in the morning and tourists during the day. The company also owns and operates 25 mini buses and 25 taxis.

Zarb said he was looking forward to using the new vehicles and reaping returns on his investment.

Zarb Coaches is the partner of Yutong Bus in Malta and it has already placed orders for fully electric buses for other companies.

They are advanced when compared to the buses of other companies, he said following the launch.

The 12-meter new buses, each with a capacity to carry 51 passengers, arrived in Malta from Zhengzhou, capital of Central China's Henan province, where the global bus manufacturer Yutong Group is headquartered.

Zarb Coaches is among the first privately owned business entities to import fully electric buses into Malta. Some 30 Chinese King Long electric buses are already running across the country, serving public transportation needs.

Malta Transport Minister Chris Bonett said the government has a policy to decarbonize public transport and was providing incentives for private companies to invest in electric vehicles.

"Green is the way we have to go as an economy … we hope that other companies will take the example of Zarb Coaches and invest in more electric vehicles, decarbonizing and making fresher air for everyone," he said.

Bonett said other Chinese brands of electric vehicles were also available in Malta and were already running on the roads. "It shows that Maltese consumers and companies and even the operator of public transport are finding Chinese vehicles very reliable."

Malta supports Chinese innovation, including in the production of clean energy, he said. "If things turn out well, we will have more investment from China in Malta which is very good for us."

Chen Guihua, counselor of the Chinese embassy in Malta, said that both countries were sharing market opportunities and promoting mutual development under the Belt and Road Initiative.

China-made electric buses introduced to the Maltese public transport fleet offer environmentally friendly options for the local people, Chen said.

"After years of development, China has become a global leader in new energy technologies and equipment manufacturing. It plays a crucial role in energy transformation and tackling climate change," said Chen.

China and Malta should strengthen cooperation, overcome obstacles and promote clean energy collaboration, including offshore renewable energy cooperation, to achieve mutual benefits and win-win outcomes in green and low-carbon energy transformation, he added.

Ma Jiabo, regional manager of the Europe division of Yutong Bus, said Yutong has pioneered the development of battery electric buses since 1997 and has so far sold over 180,000 such vehicles worldwide, not only advancing transport solutions but also contributing significantly to economic and social welfare.

In Europe alone, about 2,200 Yutong new energy buses are operating in several countries, including Britain, France, Denmark and now Malta, Ma said.

"Our goal is to support Malta in its journey toward a greener future and offer new choices and fresh vitality for both public and tourism transport," Ma said.


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