Hot on the heels of  its deal with NSW TAFE to train electric bus technicians Volvo is preparing for the launch of its first all-electric bus chassis, the Volvo BZL,  due later this year.

 Volvo’s electromobility product manager for the Asia Pacific region, Dean Moule, said that Volvo embarked on the next phase of the electromobility project with the electric chassis in 2016 by scoping out what the company wanted to do and how it would achieve it, in order to meet the expectations of our marketplace.

 VBA says its BZL fully electric chassis will be launch in 2021, and will be on Australian  roads in 2022.

Moule reflected on similarities between the project goals behind the B5L S-Charge and BZL electric chassis, where extensivetime and resources were invested in creating a quality, safe and reliable product.

“As far as executing the plans went, we wanted to be a sustainable company and set up goals that pertained to the sustainabilitybenchmarks of the company and industry. We’ve taken our time to devise and formulate plans that deliver a reliable and safe product – as opposed to rushing our process. There were similarities between the hybrid and BZL project, in wanting to deliver aproduct that the customer would be happy with. That is the number one goal. In line with our core value of safety, we also want to ensure that our vehicles are safe and reliable and ultimately deliver a great customer experience,” says Moule.

VBA have utilised Volvo’s stringent European standards to provide a safe, reliable and consistent framework for developingand supporting the BZL chassis, just as it did for its hybrid product.

These standards have been at the forefront of VBA’s planning and exectution throughout its electromobility journey and strongly reinforce VBA’s values of quality, safety and environmental care. Upon reflection of these values, Moule details acommittment to the BZL’s features and capabilities throughout the project.

“We always want to improve in every possible area, and with electromobility we want to keep looking at our projects as productevolutions, not revolutions,” says Moule.

“Everything is being constantly refined. I think the biggest thing that we take from this is that we’ve utilised the extensiveexperience with the electric vehicle in Europe and we’ve taken an experienced and proven driveline and then packaged it intoa new chassis for the world market

– and specifically for the Australian market – allowing it to be built on by our body build partners. It runs the same electricalsystem, suspension and pneumatic system as our B8RLE Euro6 and

Hybrid products so it’s not a complete retrain for the technicians, it’s an evolution,” continues Moule.

This quality translates to various BZL benefits from a product perspective, and Moule explains evident advantages forAustralian customers and operators.

“We will offer a full low floor vehicle city bus, in providing low profile tyres, easy boarding for passengers and a low floor platform throughout the vehicle. It’s one thing to have a high quality and reliable vehicle for the operator, and its another thatthe passenger has a good experience in getting on the vehicle easily and manoeuvring comfortably. We will offer a wide clear space inside the vehicle that allows the passenger to have a good experience in addition to the bus being quiet,” says Moule.

“From an operator perspective, it will have great accessibility and serviceability at every step of the way. The way thecomponents will be packaged and the way the vehicle will be built, is to ensure that servicing and repairs can be carried outwith minimum fuss,” continues Moule.

The accessible design of the BZL chassis ensures optimum servicing, presenting the advantages of taking less time to service and costing less to do so – ensuring that buses are back in service more often and on the road where they should be.

“The BZL is made for a long life on the road, in line with Australian standards and our customer’s expectations of what Volvo product durability will be – it’s a chassis designed for the long-haul,” says Mitch Peden, General Manager Volvo Bus Australia.

“We take great pride in that our electric bus offering will be introduced to the Australian market at the right time; we’re taking time to set up long-term partnerships in the e-mobility space, we’re implementing specialised training – ultimately we’re busy ensuring this product is the highest quality, has the highest safety standards, and will last in the Australian environment.”