Volvo Buses currently have in development a hybrid bus which plugs in and can drive for long distances on electricity with no exhaust and completely silent. Three buses will go through testing in Gothenburg, Sweden and are being supported by the EU. The Volvo company currently has the most efficient hybrid solution for trucks and buses in the world.
Volvo Buses have already sold is excess of 250 of their hybrid buses, which have reduced fuel consumption by 35% and by reducing the energy consumption have in turn reduced the carbon emissions by the same amount. The CEO of Volvo Buses, Håkan Karlsson, has said that reducing the energy consumption across the globe is a priority both now and also in the future.
He added that buses are the clearly the most energy efficient vehicles used for public transport and their hybrid bus will further accentuate their position as the best option for the environment. He stressed however that they must continue to work on reducing energy consumption and that for those in the bus industry this further involved finding ways of increasing the use of electricity in buses.
The hybrid plug in bus that Volvo is currently developing is supported by several authorities, which include the Swedish Energy Agency. It is very similar to the current Volvo hybrid bus, as it also recycles the brake energy and utilises an electric motor. The new bus however has a new kind of battery and charging equipment which means the buses can be charged directly from the electricity network.
The premise is that battery charging stations will be places at the end stations on the bus lines. By charging the battery there for only 5-10 minutes, it could significantly extend the length of time that the bus will be able to operate solely on electricity.
This could entail distances of up to ten kilometres, with the corresponding advantages in the form of silent traffic with no local emissions. It can be controlled so that the bus operates on electricity in densely populated areas or in particularly sensitive environmental areas, while the diesel engine can be used on other parts of the route.
This technology will generate considerable opportunities to significantly reduce energy consumption. The reason is that electric engines have very high efficiency.
“We expect to be able to reduce the energy consumption in a city bus by up to 65% compared with today’s diesel buses,” says Håkan Karlsson. “And, the plug-in hybrid bus will be able to reduce diesel consumption and thus carbon-dioxide emissions by more than 75%.”
Volvo Buses expects to have a prototype bus ready for testing in 2011. The next step will be taken in autumn 2012, when a field test will commence in Gothenburg using three chargeable hybrid buses.
The buses will be put in service with passengers.
The field test project will be implemented in cooperation with Business Region Göteborg, the Traffic Office in Gothenburg City, Västtrafik and Göteborgs Energi, which will be responsible for the charging stations. On Friday, the project was granted a subsidy of Euro 1,4 M from the EU’s program that supports environmental ventures, Life+.
“It is important to the environment that we are able to develop new energy-efficient solutions as rapidly as possible,” says Ulf Gustafsson, Head of Public Affairs at Volvo Buses. “We have the opportunity to succeed because we are capitalizing on the collective expertise of companies, organizations and authorities, and they are jointly investing the funds required.”
The field test will commence in autumn 2012, but Volvo Buses does not know yet when the company will be able to offer this bus in the market.
“It will take a few more years,” says Håkan Karlsson. “But, we are convinced that this is a key step on the path to more efficient public transport and an important step in the effort to reduce global energy consumption