While bus makers are falling over themselves to announce new electric and hydrogen fuel cell zero emission buses, Volvo is taking a more measured and steady approach by again pushing  the case for hybrid  buses  before the arrival of its first electric chassis later this year. 

Volvo says that with more than 10 years of electromobility experience in the Australian market, its bus team is reflecting on the success of its B5L S-Charge chassis and why it believes hybrids are the next best alternative to fully electric buses.   

As mentioned Volvo Bus Australia is gearing up to launch its long awaited BZL electric chassis, and says it  acknowledges the major role that the B5L S-Charge chassis has made in paving the way towards full electric  technology, claiming the hybrid vehicles rank as the next-best alternative to electric buses.

Volvo says its S-Charge chassis has been ‘making waves in the industry where there are few of its kind’ following the initial release of the B5L S-Charge chassis  back in 2013.

“The environmental, technological and cost benefits offered by the B5L S-Charge, sees the SCharge product being the next-best alternative to fully electric buses,” states Mitch Peden, general manager Volvo Bus Australia.

“Compared to regular diesel buses, Volvo’s hybrids enable up to a 39 per-cent saving on fuel and emit up to 40 per-cent less climate-impacting carbon dioxide,” said Peden.

“While fully electric buses can offer benefits beyond this, the large-scale implementation of electric buses will be a progressive journey rather than an overnight transition,” he added.

“Volvo’s B5L S-Charge is an immediately available product that can deliver part-time electric buses without operational constraints, and therefore plays an important role in the journey towards fully electric transport,” the boss of VBA said.

Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide were the earliest cities to adopt the B5L S-Charge, after VBA participated in the Hybrid bus trials for the Public Transport Authority of Western Australia in 2014, trials for Brisbane City Council in 2014 and trials for Adelaide Metro/Adelaide City Council in 2015.

Volvo says its Hybrid technology has demonstrated environmental benefits over the years across these major cities particularly reducing C02 emissions.

The company says its B5L S-Charge has also been instrumental in offering Zone Management technology, in allowing operators to achieve zero emissions in designated zones by operating exclusively in electric drive mode without relying on the electricity grid or requiring expensive infrastructure for charging.

The company adds that this technology also has the capacity to enhance the passenger experience for commuters in promising a silent ride, and giving city siders improved quality of life through decreased air and noise pollution.

The  company claims its B5L S-Charge has also garnered a positive reception from small and large operators across the country. Volvo says long-time customers, including McDermotts in Tasmania, ComfortDelgro Corporation and La Trobe Valley Buslines in Victoria, were quick to adopt Volvo’s hybrid model into their fleets, and the S-Charge has played a key role in mitigating environmental impacts and enhancing fleet efficiency.

Volvo’s B5L S-Charge combines a fuel efficient 110 kW electric motor, a right-sized 4-litre Euro 6 diesel engine and the Volvo I-Shift gearbox. It’s design enables for bodywork with the same capacity as a conventional diesel or gas bus and features significant weight savings and allows for passenger capacities that are on par with conventional diesel buses.

The B5L is also built to cope with the needs of dense and demanding city traffic, but it is also suited for routes that service suburbs. With great reliability and a service-friendly layout for easy maintenance, the B5L S-Charge is designed to ensure optimum uptime for operators.

“The B5L S-Charge chassis is part of VBA’s holistic approach to sustainable transport solutions and has done an incredible job in facilitating part of our electromobility journey towards zero emissions,” said Peden.

“We’re very grateful to have operators of all sizes adopt this technology and to see cities across Australia reaping the environmental and economic benefits. VBA is fortunate to have the only dedicated bus team of electromobility experts in the country supporting this technology, and I have full confidence in the teams’ ability to support the awaited BZL Electric Chassis, just as they have for our Hybrid product.”