Our Plans for 2016

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

Shouldn’t we wait till the technology becomes cheaper?

The Big Lemon has always been about trying new things, harnessing pioneering spirit and blazing a trail.  We were the first bus company to run all our vehicles on locally-sourced waste cooking oil, and we have been watching the electric bus market with interest in its formative years.

We feel that now is the right time to go for it.  We’re not the first; this is now proven technology: it has improved a great deal and also become more affordable since it first came on the market just a few years ago.  The Government is also keen to encourage take-up of this technology and there is a grant scheme to help with the costs, which we have applied for.  If successful, it provides funding for 90% of the extra cost on top of that of a regular diesel bus of the same specification.

Considering all these factors, there is no better time than now!

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 (Figures from Strathclyde University’s Energy Systems Research Unit):

 Per Bus Carbon dioxide (CO2) Carbon monoxide (CO) Hydro-carbons (HC) Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) Particulates (PM)
Annual emissions (diesel) 83,641 kg 1227 kg 385 kg 1,214 kg 119 kg
Annual emissions (biodiesel) 11,685 kg 836 kg 314 kg 1,419 kg 81 kg
Annual emissions (electric) 0 0 0 0 0
Saving over 10 years (compared with biodiesel) 117 tonnes 8.4 tonnes 3.1 tonnes 14 tonnes 0.8 tonnes

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, and for each one we have to raise £100,000 ourselves.  In just a few weeks we have already raised £160,000 so we can definitely buy our first bus, and are over halfway to buying our second one!

How much money do we need for our first two electric buses and where are we getting it from?

What do we need to get two electric buses? Cost
Two electric buses @£233,803 £467,606
‘Slow’ charger for overnight charging £2,440
‘Fast’ charger for quick charging during the day £23,111
Total £493,157
Where is the money coming from? Target
Bond issue £200,000*
Government grant for the buses £217,730
Government grant for the charging infrastructure £19,163
Company funds £56,264
Total £493,157

*We have already raised £160,000 so we have just £40,000 to go!

Our Offer to You

We are offering 2000 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. For an investment of £1000 that means £123.60 in interest after two years.

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
Total Income £391,340 £530,195 £616,873 £668,507
Cost of Sales  £295,996 £442,984 £453,506 £449,667
Gross Profit £95,344 £87,211 £163,367 £218,840
Overheads £90,690 £80,513 £104,561 £148,341
Profit £4,654 £6,698 £58,806 £70,499


How will we pay your money back?

How much will we have to pay back after two years? Commitment
2000 Bonds of £100 each £200,000
Interest Year 1 £12,000
Interest Year 2 £12,720
Total £224,720
Where will the money coming from? Forecast
Year 1 Profit £70,360
Year 2 Profit £70,360
Year 1 fuel & maintenance cost savings £42,000
Year 2 fuel & maintenance cost savings £42,000
Total £224,720


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

* Update 1 March 2016 * 

The bond offer is now closed.  It has been a massive success, beating all expectations and raising a total of £250,000.  This means that we can now look at the possibility of getting three electric buses and we would like to thank everyone who has supported us in this exciting campaign.

If you would still like to invest in us we are offering shares in The Big Lemon. Please click here for more information.

17 thoughts on “Our Plans for 2016

  1. Derren jasper

    Hello, what is the maximum no of bonds a person can buy? Also, what if I need the money back before the two year period? Is there a penalty or any liabilities, etc?
    Re tax payable on the bonds, can you tell me who has to pay tax on the profits and who seasons? Thanks

    1. Hi Derren, thanks for getting in touch, the maximum anyone can buy is 400, ie £40,000 worth. We cannot guarantee any repayments before the due date but if we were in a position to repay them early we’d be very happy to do so. Interest is added annually so if you were to return your bonds after one year but before two years you would earn one year’s interest. We would also be very happy to facilitate a sale of the bonds if you needed the money early but found someone else interested in buying them off you. Hope that helps!

    2. Ref the interest, it’s not taxed at source so you would have to declare it and depending on your situation it would be taxed at the normal rate. It’s still more than twice the best rate on tax-free ISAs though 🙂

    1. Hi there, sadly they don’t, because essentially the bonds are simply a loan at a fixed interest rate rather an at-risk shares in the company. Additionally EIS shares must be held for three years and these are only for two years.. If you’re interested in EIS-qualifying shares we can send you our next prospectus; email us at lemonbus@thebiglemon.com 🙂

  2. Stuart Elms

    What happens if I purchase a bond today but you are unable to raise the full £2k ?

    1. Hi Stuart, we are very nearly there and so far have raised almost twice what we thought we could, so hopeful we can make £200k. If we don’t however we will look at either extending the deadline or looking at other ways to raise the final bit. We’re so close now that not reaching our goal is no longer an option!

  3. Nat Colllins

    Tom as much as I’d like to give you a £100 bond I don’t have the money 🙁 But If you could do a smaller amount I’d oblige! Good luck with the electric buses!

  4. I just found out about this today and it looks like I have missed the closing date, will there be another issue of bonds?

  5. jane power

    I just missed out on the bonds and it looks like I might have missed the bus on share issue – are there still shares available? I’d like to be involved in this.

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