Södertälje, Sweden Photo: Kjell Olausson 2019

Swedish truck and bus maker Scania has unveiled a bold and exciting vision for autonomous self driving, low emission, passenger and goods transport, displaying its NXT concept at the UITP Global Public Transport Summit in Stockholm this week.

Scania says its new battery electric self-driving urban concept vehicle is designed with flexibility to shift from ferrying commuters to and from work in mornings and evenings to delivering goods during the day and collecting refuse at night.

Scania’s engineers say they have used the company’s DNA in regard to its modular system  and taken it to the next level in developing a concept vehicle that can change shape for varying urban assignments.

Scania says that countless cities are now ‘catalysing change in urban transport’, driven by the need for lower emissions and less congestion. It goes on to say that technological and infrastructural advances in electric and autonomous vehicles will be key enablers for cities when shifting to a sustainable transport system.

“NXT is a vision of the future for transport in cities. Several of these technologies have yet to fully mature but for us it’s been important to actually build a concept vehicle to visibly and technically demonstrate ideas of what is within reach,” said Scania’s president and CEO Henrik Henriksson.

 “NXT is designed for 2030 and beyond while incorporating several cutting-edge features that are already available,” Henriksson added.

Scania says that in NXT, the front and rear drive modules can be fitted to a bus body, a distribution truck body or a refuse collector. The bus module of this innovative concept vehicle is on display at the Stockholm public transport summit this week.

Scania believes that to achieve real change in the transport ecosystem, vehicles play an important part but more needs to be in place. 

The company says that significant development of infrastructure is required to cater both for electrified and autonomous vehicles and additionally the 24/7 flow of people and goods in cities needs to be coherently addressed rather than disparately planned.

The company says in its release that commercial transport in many ways constitutes the pulse of a city, it is how we get to work or school, it is how food reaches shops and restaurants, how medicines are delivered to hospitals and how refuse is collected and removed. The release goes on ti say that currently, flows in cities are far from being optimised as goods are delivered during the morning rush hour while most people are also on the move. Meanwhile, commercial transport is largely barred from city centres during nights when people are asleep.

“We at Scania can’t redraw the entire transport system for cities, what we can do is inspire change and that is the idea behind NXT – to think about transport and vehicles in a different and sustainable way,” Mr Henriksson said.

Scania says in its press release that public transport has always meant sharing and that now needs to be taken to the next level and with a higher degree of automation, it will be simpler to introduce greater flexibility in public transport.

“This is something new, something very different, yet flexible design and modularised units lie very much at the core of Scania,” said Robert Sjödin, the NXT Project Manager. 

The eight-metre-long bus module is built as one composite unit, substantially reducing weight. The cylindrical cell batteries are placed under the floor, thereby utilising otherwise dead space as well as contributing to better weight distribution. With the low vehicle weight of less than eight tonnes, the range with present-day batteries is estimated at 245 kilometres.

“Continuous improvement in small steps has been the hallmark of Scania and we are now taking a giant leap into the future and this vehicle will provide invaluable tangible data in our continued development of electrified autonomous vehicles,”  said Sjödin.