Millbrook and First Bus work together to improve fuel efficiency of buses

6 November 2014  •  Author(s): Millbrook

Since 2012 bus manufacturers have descended on Millbrook for the annual FMFET event to prove their vehicles are the most fuel efficient. First use the test results to help decide what new vehicles it will buy in the following year.   With First investing more than £310m in new buses over the last four years, there is a big incentive for manufacturers to take the testing process very seriously. 


With the competition fierce, development of an accurate and repeatable test, which replicates a ‘real world’ bus route, was an important first step for the programme.

Using a set of statistics taken from a large sample of First vehicles and bus routes across the UK, Millbrook and First created a ‘theoretical average bus cycle’ by closely matching aspects such as stops per kilometre, elevation change per kilometre, idle time per hour, average speed and max speed.

Since the test programme was established three years ago, Millbrook has worked with a number of vehicle manufacturers and suppliers to optimise their vehicles to the FMFET cycle.

Phil Robertson, Millbrook’s Principal Engineer in the Vehicle Measurement Group explained: “There are a significant number of vehicles that are now 20-30% more efficient than they were three years ago; meaning the FMFET has had a direct result on reducing emissions.”

“There is a real teamwork approach to this project, not just between First and Millbrook, but also manufacturers and suppliers. Everyone from engine to cooling system suppliers have taken a role in improving the fuel efficiency of these vehicles.”

Managing Director of First Bus, Giles Fearnley, said: “Over the last few years the FMFET data has had a direct impact on which manufacturers we place orders with and which vehicle types we acquire.  Indeed I believe our annual competition at Millbrook influences purchasing strategies from a number of other operators – that’s not surprising given the fuel efficiency improvements that we’re seeing. This financial year First will save an estimated 6 million kilograms of carbon dioxide running new vehicles, the equivalent of planting 3 million trees.”

He continued: “The levels of professionalism and technical expertise which Millbrook has brought to the process has undoubtedly helped shape our strategy and improved our business. Our unique partnership is one of the bus industry’s real success stories.”

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