the all-electric comeback of malta's beloved bus
 

the all-electric comeback of malta's beloved bus

in 2011, malta’s traditional, colorful buses were retired. funky, ornately donned with names and scriptures, the locally-owned vehicles captured the hearts of tourists and commuters for half a century. by the early 2000-teens, the shapely buses no longer met EU standards for carbon emissions and they retired the fleet. that is until mizzi studio announced designs for their electric comeback.

mizzi studio
image by stargate studios on behalf of mizzi studio

 

 

a few photos down, the original buses will jump out at you. a delightful trio — opel, layland, and an orange friend whose name is just out of shot. the day these buses were scooted aside, it was a win for the environment…but if earth were allowed just one cheat-food in its new diet of sustainable vehicles, she might have chosen these colorful beauties. fortunately, we no longer have to choose between environmentally sustainable experiences and lovely experiences.

mizzi studio
image by stargate studios on behalf of mizzi studio

 

 

award-winning london and malta-based architecture and design practice mizzi studio has revealed innovative designs for a new, electric fleet of the mid-century buses that, in a single swoop, may set the small nation to lead the EU in the charge towards zero-emission public transport. the studio may just ignite a renewed sense of national pride through these contemporary, eco-friendly iterations. the new designs will be showcased in a public exhibition at the parliament building in valletta in july 2019.

mizzi studio
image by stargate studios on behalf of mizzi studio

 

 

mizzi studio identified the best characteristics of the traditional fleet and imposed them onto a modern chassis. note: the over-sized chrome grill, round hooded headlights, and the visor overhanging the windscreen. the colors, the slogans, electric dreams, forever young, all the nostalgia of the buses get a modern, economic spin.

mizzi studio
image by stargate studios on behalf of mizzi studio

 

 

mizzi studio proposes a fully electric, emission-free fleet in line with the EU’s long-term strategy for a climate-neutral future. the new fleet would also have a full vision panel at the front, state of the art air conditioning and cooling systems, middle doors for efficient boarding and disembarking and low floors and ramps for disabled access. regardless of how maltese citizens receive the homage, they’re likely to enjoy them more than the deeply despised bendy-buses that were used in 2011.

mizzi studio
traditional maltese bus
image courtesy of koptaco

mizzi studio
traditional maltese bus
image by jack malipan travel photography / alamy stock photo (also main image)

mizzi studio
image by mizzi studio

mizzi studio
image by mizzi studio

mizzi studio
image by mizzi studio

 

 

project info:

 

designers: mizzi studio

collaborators: malta public transport, arts council malta, heritage malta

  • Slapping classic features on a round lozenge a thoughtful throwback does not make, and without a manufacturer willing, this is merely playing pretend. This is not the correct financial climate for adding new, bespoke, low volume, highly specialised, yet affordable products in an already capitalised market with existing titans in play. Unspoken is the implicit requirement for a brand new production line or factory to make these buses, which is not free on the wallet or environment. Furthermore, the implication that it is more efficient to build a new electric bus than continue using old ones is also unsubstantiated and frankly, pretentious.

    Toyota noted in 2004 that up to 28% of a car’s environmental emissions we’re in its manufacturing, and this is for a petrol powered vehicle and doesn’t take into account the additional negative externalities associated with battery manufacture, so to pretend that new is better on an environmental front is rather off-putting. Lastly, Malta burns natural gas and oil to power its electric grid, so all this will do is move where the combustion happens and add latency to the process at great environmental cost.

    This has the nuance and finesse of a university student project, and exhibits many pitfalls evident in modern day eco-technology companies’ projects – a facade of environmental concern covering a less palatable reality. It is effectively feel-good vaporware. Why not look at body kits for ‘eco friendly’ buses already in production to give them classic styling? Or perhaps retrofitting electrification kits to the classic busses if they were so desirable? We have to do better than this if we’re to move the planet forward meaningfully.

    Ben says:
  • Interesting retro fit … we need more of these kinds of projects … retaining the art as opposed to abandoning it to the junk yard

    Leonardo Sideri says:
  • Ben is right, but sometimes you need to take two steps back to get others to move forward. Make a 1/2-size version on that same production line – for the RV crowd – with a quiet genset that would re-charge the batts during a stop. You’d sell a bunch in the States.

    Jimmy

    Jimmy Xi says:

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