Volvo has been in our blog quite a lot over the past few months, as it’s launched lots of new safety initiatives as part of a campaign to reduce the number of people injured or killed in new Volvo vehicles to zero by 2020. To that end it’s introduced new automatic braking measures and detection technologies, but it’s also pushing for other aspects of vehicles to improve too, like their fuel economy. To that end, Volvo has recently launched a new hybrid electric bus in Europe, that should cut back on CO2 emissions by up to 75 per cent when compared to traditional diesel engines.
The new bus is set to be shown off at the IAA Commercial Vehicle show in Hannover this week, though it may not be necessary as Volvo has already signed deals with several governments and local authorities around the EU to provide the buses as replacements for ageing public transport solutions. Both Luxembourg and Hamburg are two of the earliest adopters, with Volvo expected to deliver fleets of the new buses over the coming year.
“Electric-hybrid buses and full-electric buses are tomorrow’s solution for urban public transport,” said Håkan Agnevall, president of Volvo Bus Corporation (via BusinessGreen). “They will allow us to reduce energy consumption, air pollution, climate impact and noise, which are some of the biggest challenges facing large cities worldwide.”
The bus is hardly a performance beast, nor can it travel long distances on its built in electric motor. In-fact, it’s only able to cover seven miles before it requires a recharge. There is a built in diesel engine which increases the bus’ range dramatically, but its real selling point is its recharge time. While many electric vehicles can take hours to recharge their thousands of internal li-ion batteries, Volvo’s electric bus can recharge in just six minutes from an overhead charge point. This potentially allows it to get a small recharge in at each stop, meaning it could run on electricity almost all of the time.
Buses and other public transport have seen some of the biggest improvement in terms of energy efficiency in recent years. While they traditionally tend to be better for the environment than a bunch of people driving cars into a city instead, their diesel engines are rarely the most efficient, belching out clouds of noxious black soot and chemicals into the faces of walkers and cyclists. With new hybrid offerings, cities will be able to continue offering a green way for people to get around, as well as reducing local pollution and smog.
In London, where the big red buses are perhaps the most iconic in the world, there’s over 300 hybrid engines in use. While it was initially planned (in 2012) to make all of them hybrid, that aim has been cut back in recent years. While not as efficient as Volvo’s latest offerings, the double decker hybrids’ combination of electric and diesel motors, has led to a reduction in carbon dioxide output of 40 per cent.