An electric future for The Big Lemon

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.

Why isn’t everyone doing this already?!

Sadly the main reason is it simply costs too much to buy the buses – as the technology is still young it costs roughly twice as much for an electric bus as it would for a diesel bus.

In today’s money that’s roughly a quarter of a million pounds.

An Electric Bus similar to what we hope to operate in Brighton & Hove
An Electric Bus similar to what we hope to operate in Brighton & Hove

How going electric will help our city and our environment

Brighton & Hove City Council’s 2015 Air Quality Action Plan priorities improvements in roadside NOx levels and welcomes initiatives to reduce NOx emissions from buses.

The Big Lemon’s routes include North Street (B2066) which is one of the busiest routes in the UK with nearly all (97%) of the cities bus routes passing along this road. North Street to Western Road has the highest concentrations of nitrogen dioxide in Sussex and currently exceeds the legal limits for nitrogen dioxide emissions.

Western Road NOx Emissions
Based on Variable Tailpipe Emissions of NOx on the B2066 Western Road by traffic type

The reduction of emissions from buses along this route is a priority in tackling air pollution in the city. Although The Big Lemon uses sustainably sourced fuel from waste cooking oils, our current fleet of biodiesel buses produce relatively high levels of NOx. Replacing these buses with electric vehicles would reduce the NOx emissions (as well as particulate matter, CO2 and everything else!) to zero.

Just look at the emissions we could save from converting from biodiesel to electric:

 Per Bus Carbon monoxide (CO) Hydrocarbons (HC) Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) Particulates (PM)
Annual emissions (biodiesel) 836 kg 314 kg 1,419 kg 81 kg
Annual emissions (electric) 0 0 0 0
Saving over 10 years 8,360 kg 3,140 kg 14,190 kg 810 kg

Will you help us make Brighton & Hove a healthier city?

We’ve applied for a government grant to help us raise the money to buy three of these buses, but in order to get our first one we need to raise £100,000 ourselves.  We have therefore released 1000 community bonds at £100 each to enable us to reach that target.

Tom Druitt, founder of the Big Lemon Bus Company, a fleet of yellow buses that run on recycled cooking oil and offer cheap fares on routes dominated by students. Brighton, Sussex, England. Photo: Alec Kingham, M & Y Media
Managing Director, Tom Druitt, said “Sustainability has always been at the heart of our business model. The Big Lemon is owned by members of the community and we are asking local people 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”

Our offer to you:

We are offering 1000 two-year fixed rate £100 community bonds at an interest rate of 6% per annum.  In plain English that means that if you invest £100 today, in two years’ time we’ll give you £112.36 – guaranteed.

Better than the Banks

Currently Moneysupermarket’s featured ‘market-leading’ savings product is a two-year fixed rate cash ISA which earns 2% AER.  Invest with us and your money money will be working three times as hard for you, as well as working hard for the local community too!


No investment is 100% secure, and even the biggest banks can fail.  Having said that, bonds are one of the safest investments, because they are not tied to performance, so as long as the business doesn’t go out of business (and we’ve no intention of doing that!) you get the agreed return on your investment.

The Big Lemon has been growing steadily over the last few years, consistently improving its performance and resilience year on year. The following table shows the last four years’ financial performance, with each year better than the one before, and last year being our best yet!

2012  2013 2014 2015 (Draft)
Total Income £391,340 £530,195 £616,873 £654,564
Cost of Sales  £295,996 £442,984 £453,506 £481,937
Gross Profit £95,344 £87,211 £163,367 £172,627
Overheads £90,690 £80,513 £104,561 £101,656
Profit £4,654 £6,698 £58,806 £70,971


The Big Lemon is offering a fantastic investment opportunity, with much better rates than savings accounts and ISAs, a lot less hassle than property, and much less risk than the stock market.  With our community bonds you get the best of all worlds: a great rate, incredibly low risk, and no hassle at all.

Investment per bond £100
Period 2 Years
Return on investment  6% pa
Total amount returned to you after two years (per bond) £112.36
Closing date for applications 29 February 2016

Any Questions?

If you have any questions please put them in the comments box below and we will answer them, then both question and answer will be visible to help others.

I’m in, what do I do now?

If you’d like to invest in The Big Lemon please complete the following:

Upon receipt of your form we will send you an invoice for your bonds with payment information.  We will reserve your bonds for seven days. Upon receipt of your funds we will issue a bond certificate within 14 days. 

The Big Lemon does not accept investments from companies, only from individuals.  We reserve the right to refuse investments and we do not need to give a reason. Maximum investment per person £40,000. The Big Lemon does not give financial advice and you are advised to seek independent financial advice on your investments. 

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