If you are into cars, you go to an auto show in Munich or Shanghai. If you are into buses, you make a pilgrimage to Busworld, which is held every two years in Brussels. It is going on this week, and the organizers expect 500 exhibitors and 40,000 visitors from more than 130 countries.
Busworld introduces attendees to a variety of vehicle, body, and interiors manufacturers, suppliers of components, electronics and IT systems, as well as maintenance and service providers. The potential buyers at Busworld are bus and coach operators, public transport companies, airports, schools and large-scale purchasers in the bus industry.
The last Busworld expo was held in 2019 because the 2021 show was cancelled due to the global pandemic. So it has been four long years since the last iteration of the show and there has been a revolution in the bus business during that time.
Diesel engines are still the workhorse of the world’s bus fleets, but battery and fuel cell powered coaches are now getting attention from fleet operators who want to experience the benefits of lower fuel and maintenance costs. Reducing emissions is an important goal but saving money is what drives changes in the marketplace.
Scania E-Bus Platform Introduced At BusWorld
Scania, a wholly owned subsidiary of Volkswagen Group, introduced its latest battery-electric bus platform at Busworld this week. The new platform offers customers a range of battery options, the largest of which, at 520 kWh, can provide up to 500 km of range.
“During the development of our new battery electric bus platform, range, performance, and battery responsibility have been key areas — all crucial to achieving viable and sustainable transport systems. Combined with our latest e-mobility services and solutions, this means we will provide complete and highly competitive solutions for urban applications in all our current regions,” says Carl-Johan Lööf, the head of people transport solutions for Scania.
The batteries for this new bus platform were designed and produced in partnership with Northvolt, which prides itself on reducing emissions during mining and manufacturing process to the lowest level in the industry. Scania’s updated battery packs and battery management system allow faster charging while a new location for the charging port placement makes charging more convenient as well.
The low entry bus platform is flexible enough to meet different conditions and requirements for bus manufacturers. It is suitable for medium and heavy duty operations in city, suburban, and regional applications for both Class I and Class II operations. A choice of gear ratios means the platform can meet the demands of the most challenging topography.
Finally, the new electrical system and Smart Dash instrument panel provide improved digital safety functions and remote diagnostics as well as real time maps and over the air updates. The Smart Dash enhances the driver experience and makes it more intuitive, while also increasing operational efficiency.
Solaris Urbino 18 Battery-Powered Articulated Bus
Solaris is one of the oldest and largest manufacturers of battery-electric buses in Europe. Its specialty is large capacity articulated buses designed to conquer the challenges of densely populated cities. At Busworld 2023, it featured the Urbino 18, a thoroughly updated design that can carry up to 145 passengers.
What makes that possible? Unlike diesel-powered buses that have an engine stack mounted at the rear, Solaris places the batteries and most of the control systems on the roof. The drive package has been configured to fit completely under the floor of the bus, eliminating the engine stack entirely. That leaves room for up to six more rows of seats, which translates into room for as many as 24 more passengers.
According to a Solaris press release, the Urbino 18 features the latest driveline architecture and battery technologies that make all day operability possible. Charging can take place via a a charge port or by using an overhead pantograph. Battery packs as large as 800 kWh are available, which makes the maximum range of the Urbino 18 about 600 km.
Solaris has also developed buses powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Green hydrogen is more abundant in Europe than in the US, thanks to the availability of low cost hydroelectric power in some countries. Solaris says it has received orders of 600 hydrogen e-buses, of which 140 have already been manufactured and delivered to customers in a dozen European cities. The Urbino 18 with a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain has a maximum range of around 600 km and can be refueled in 20 minutes.
Allison Debuts Latest E-Axle For Commercial Vehicles
Founded in 1915, Allison Transmission has made a name for itself as a manufacturer of heavy duty drivetrains and transmissions for medium and heavy duty trucks, buses, mining equipment, and other off-road vehicles. Today it does business in 130 countries around the world.
At Busworld 2023, it introduced the eGen Power 85S, the newest addition to it family of fully electric axles. “The introduction of the eGen Power 85S is the latest example of Allison’s commitment to expanding our propulsion solution portfolio to meet the demands of the wide range of applications and market segments we serve,” the company said in a press release.
The first customer for the new e-axle is Anadolu Isuzu, which will fit the powertrain to its Nova Volt medium-sized buses. “We’re proud to partner with Allison to integrate the eGen Power 85S into the Novo Volt to provide a new bus in our portfolio that will deliver zero emissions and reduce noise levels,” said Tuğrul Arıkan, general manager of Anadolu Isuzu. “We are very pleased with Allison’s ability to provide an e-axle that meets the unique requirements of our midi bus platform and is easily integrated into the existing vehicle chassis.”
Allison’s collaboration with Anadolu Isuzu marks the first time an eGen Power e-Axle will be used in a midi bus application, expanding the family of fully electric axles into a new market segment. The eGen Power 85S was specifically developed to address the needs of midi bus and small truck applications that require a lower 8.5 ton gross axle weight rating with a narrower track width, smaller spindle, and new stamped axle housing compared to existing eGen Power models.
“The introduction of the eGen Power 85S is the latest example of Allison’s commitment to expanding our propulsion solution portfolio to meet the demands of the wide range of applications and market segments we serve,” said Heidi Schutte, Allison Transmission vice president. “Our family of e-axles has been developed to support Allison’s customers as they develop electric vehicle capabilities and adopt technologies that will guide them into the future of the commercial vehicle industry.”
Anything that takes diesel-powered vehicles off the road is welcome news. A private automobile may be in use 5% of the day, but a bus or other commercial vehicle is expected to operate 12 hours a day or more. Reducing emissions from a bus or truck therefore has a greater impact on the environment than trading in a Toyota Corolla for a Kia Niro EV.
Cities like Oslo are leading the way to zero emission public transportation and transportation officials in other jurisdictions are paying attention. Electric buses cost more to purchase, but can repay the extra cost over their useful life while delivering benefits to the local community in terms of healthier air to breathe. With additional policy support from national and local governments, the transition to all electric public transportation is expected to accelerate over the next several years.
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