Scania has used the BusVic Melbourne Bus Show for the global reveal of its new ‘silent mode’ Gen II hybrid bus.

To mark the event Scania asked former Federal opposItion leader and chairman of Bioenergy Australia, Dr John Hewson, to launch the bus, with the one time Prime Ministerial aspirant using the occasion to take a shot at the current government for its inaction on clean vehicle technology and legislation.

“The world is moving on pretty quickly and hybrid buses, electric buses and hydrogen powered buses are all becoming a reality and within a short period of time from now in my view,” said Dr. Hewson.

“These things tend to happen a lot faster than people think and I just recognised the other day that it only took ten years in the US to go from horse drawn vehicles to engine driven vehicles, 1903 to 1913 and the transition was complete,” he said.

“I look at the pace we are moving in Australia and I get very disheartened about our goverment and its inability to actually face what is going to happen,” said Mr Hewson.

“We have fuel security as a major issue in this country, we have waste as a major issue, we have feedstrock in rural areas and this will actually give you the fuels you need, whether it is ethanol or bio diesel or whatever, and the transition is relatively easy.

“All the feestock for that is spread across the country in regional centres, so you can have small refineries producing bio-fuels, you can have very big ethanol projects and so on, but its just not happening, mostly because the government is not prepared to put in place the framework for it,” he said.

“But I am pleased to see the private sector is not waiting for government, basically they are moving as you see here at the bus show with electric and low emission vehicles, the private sector sees the inevitablity of the transition, its happening in some countries much faster than it is here,” said Dr Hewson.

“China of course, with particular pollution the way it is, is moving very quickly to electric vehicles wherever it can, or bio fueled vehicles.

“In Australia I think it is inevitable that we have this transistion, it will happen quicker than most people imagine and it will be driven at the basic level, this is what going to drive it, you get out in front and demontrate that there is no real downside to this when you can reduce emissions by upwards of 95 per cent.

“Once the government excepts the reality of the climate challenge and looks at the need to reduce emissions, these sort of transitions are relatively easy, they don’t take a lot of pain,” he added.

“The price of diesel is going to go through the roof in the next few years because of a number of factors and it might even be noticed by the government,” Dr Hewson concluded

Scania says its Generation II technology allows the Hybrid bus Dr Hewson launched to drive solely on battery power with zero tailpipe emissions for approximately four km up to a maximum speed of 45 km/h, depending on the operating conditions.

Scania says the K 320 UB 4×2 diesel electric hybrid is being delivered to Geelong’s McHarry’s Bus service, and marks a significant change in urban bus functionality and environmental benefits.

The Hybrid is powered by a 9.0-litre 320 hp five-cylinder Euro 6 diesel with a 177 hp/1030 Nm electric motor as part of a seamlesslyt integrated hybrid system and a Scania Opticruise transmission.

The diesel engine is 100 per cent compatible with biodiesel and HVO which help reduce CO2 emissions by up to 92 per cent, while Scania says the electric ‘silent mode’ can reduce tailpipe emissions to zero.

The hybrid uses its diesel engine to fully charge its batteries in just 30 minutes while in driving mode. Scania says driving on battery power alone in ‘silent mode’, is ideal for arriving at or departing from bus-stops delivering zero emissions and cleaner air in sensitive zones where a requirement for low noise levels may exist.

Scania claims that in real-world driving performance in Europe it has delivered fuel consumption savings of between 20 and 25 per cent and that using the optional electric drive delivers further fuel savings of up to 10 per cent.

The Scania Hybrid bus is fitted with a low floor body built by Express in the NSW regional town of Macksville on the state’s mid north coast and is equipped with 49 McConnell’s Metro seats and can accommodate 13 standing passengers for a total capacity of 62 including the driver.

“Scania Australia is very excited to be the first global market to deliver the new Right-Hand Drive Generation II version of the diesel-electric hybrid that has been such a success in Europe,” said Julian Gurney.

“The hybrid’s ‘silent mode’ zero tailpipe emissions experience will be a revelation for drivers and passengers alike,” he said.

Scania also featured one of its new Scania Touring following its Australian launch in Queensland in October last year.

Scania Australia’s Sustainable Solutions manager, Anthony King, explained that Scania is ‘driving the shift to a sustainable transport system’

In another feature of its stand the company commissioned an artist to create a 6 m x 2.7 m mural during the course of the Bus show, commemorating the launch of the first Scania hybrid bus in Australia. Scania said the theme of the mural reflects its sustainability focus and the introduction of hybrid technology into the Australian passenger transit landscape.