ON Saturday, pioneering football club Forest Green Rovers will be the first team in the world to transport its players to a game in an electric-powered coach.
The League Two leaders can seal promotion this weekend when they travel to Bristol Rovers.
And they will be making the short journey to the Memorial Ground in an incredible £420,000 state-of-the-art vehicle.
Made by Chinese firm Yutong, the coach has been leased from London company Westway especially for the game – fulfilling green energy champion and Forest Green owner Dale Vince’s pledge that the club would use an electric coach this season.
Chairman Vince has also confirmed that the club will look to buy an electric coach in the future, as the club continues to run as a sustainable model.
But for the moment, they will be happy with the amazing Yutong TCE12 coach that has amenities including 4G Wi-Fi, USB charge points at each seat, LED lighting, and private double-glazed glass windows.
Powered by a 281Kwh battery capacity, that produces 470hp and an incredible 2360 lb/ft of torque, the 18.5 tonne vehicle has a range of 200miles plus on a full charge, which takes just two hours from 0-100 per cent.
However, taken in normal driving conditions with traffic, road conditions such as hills, and ancillaries running such as air-conditioning, heating & Wi-Fi, it’s more likely to manage 185 miles.
Player comfort in the 48-seater vehicle isn’t skimped on and neither is style – with the Yutong boasting half-leather reclining seats and fold-down tables – if players fancy a game of cards on their trip.
Most importantly though, because it is powered solely by batteries it produces ZERO tailpipe emissions.
Leasing an electric vehicle is the latest steps Forest Green Rovers have taken as they push for sustainability.
Their New Lawn ground is completely powered by renewable energy, while players play on an organic pitch that’s not treated with weedkiller. And in terms of a sprinkler system, they rely on reusing rain water instead of mains water.
Head coach Rob Edwards drives an electric car, along with chief executive Henry Staelens, while the team has worn kits made from coffee waste.
Fans are treated to a vegan menu on match days, and plans are afoot for the club to move to Eco Park – a ground that will be made entirely of wood.
“Our work focuses on three big things – energy, transport and food,” Vince said.
“Since I began with the club in 2010 I’ve wanted an electric team bus because it’s one of the things within our control on the transport front that we haven’t managed to crack yet. We’ve been waiting for electric buses to come into the world and they’re here now.
“We’re hoping to get one ourselves for the coming season and we’ll see how many games we can squeeze in with it, but it’s super-important that we electrify transport to reduce emissions and consumption of fossil fuels.”
Since coming into the Football League in 2017, Forest Green Rovers have made steady progress in becoming an established league side.
Vince said: “We’ve made steady progress since then which is what we aim to do, rather than boom and bust. And hopefully we do the same now.”
Forest Green’s new Eco Park stadium is projected to be double the size of New Lawn with a capacity for 12,000 supporters.
The plan for Vince is to have the stadium ready in three or four seasons, when they will need it most.
“Really the plan is to have it ready before we need it,” he added.
“We can stay where we are and survive in League One OK, it’ll be a stretch but we can manage it. But before we get to the Championship, we really need the new stadium.”