The public is on board as a Brighton company crowdfunds for first electric bus

Posted On 04 Feb 2016 at 10:41 am

The public has put up more than £50,000 in just over a week as the Big Lemon turns to crowdfunding to buy its first electric bus.

The Brighton bus operator is issuing a thousand £100 community bonds to raise £100,000 towards the cost of the first bus. The two-year bonds pay 6 per cent a year interest so each bond will return £112.36.

Already the company is more than halfway towards its fundraising target which it must meet to qualify for a government grant.

Councillor Tom Druitt

Tom Druitt

The total cost of the new bus is £260,000, including recharging equipment. The government is expected to give a grant of almost £130,000, including a contribution towards the cost of the recharging equipment.

The remaining money will come from the business, according to its founder and managing director Tom Druitt.

Until now all the Big Lemon buses have run on recycled cooking oil collected from local restaurants and kitchens.

Mr Druitt wants to replace his older bio-diesel buses, which produce high levels of nitrous oxide, with new clean green fully electric buses. He hopes to buy three for starters.

Tom Druitt with one of his Big Lemon buses

Tom Druitt with one of his Big Lemon buses

He said: “Since our launch in 2007 over a million passenger journeys have been made on the Big Lemon and we have used over half a million litres of waste cooking oil and saved 900 tonnes of CO2 emissions in the process.

“In 2016 our aim is to take it to the next level and run bus services on electricity from renewable sources. No emissions. No carbon footprint.

“As a community-owned local business we are asking the people of Brighton and Hove to get on board and invest in this project, to improve air quality in the city and make a healthy profit on your investment at the same time.”

Mr Druitt was delighted with the response to the crowdfunding campaign so far. He said that the bonds, which offer much better interest than almost all bank accounts, would be on sale until the end of the month.

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