Positioned in one of Australia’s energy producing towns, and being an industry recognised company for their environmentally conscious approach to operations and new technologies, LVBL was Volvo Bus Australia’s first customer to purchase a Hybrid fleet in August 2018 and has since been leading the way with this sustainable technology.
LVBL acknowledges that to meet commitments to operating a socially and environmentally responsible business, hybrid technology is part of the solution and would therefore, be an ongoing investment for them. Apart from the obvious reduction in tail pipe emissions, the fact that the hybrid buses have also carried the benefits of reducing noise and improving passenger comfort was a much-welcomed bonus for LVBL.
“A focus towards sustainability and reduced emissions has been a priority for LVBL since 2015,” said Anna Tyben, Latrobe Valley Bus Lines, General Manager.
“In an Australian first, we were supported by Volvo and the Department of Transport to trial a MYKI equipped Volvo Hybrid Euro 6 route service bus. We received positive feedback from our passengers and drivers throughout the trial. Feedback included how quiet and smooth the vehicle was when in operation and the environmental benefits for the community relating to reduced tail pipe emissions and reduced operating noise.”
This feedback is still consistent in 2022, with drivers commenting on the premium ergonomics when operating the Volvo B5L S-Charge product, as well as increased comfort for passengers, and less air and noise pollution for residents. LVBL have also experienced the benefits of telematics and integrated zone management technology, which in addition to the other hybrid features, saw the official introduction of these vehicles not long after the trial concluded.
“Once the trial finished, we introduced 8 Volvo Euro 6 Hybrid route service buses across the Latrobe Valley, with our first bus hitting the road in 2018.
“We view Hybrids as a step towards full e-mobility. We also strongly believe Hybrids would be advantageous across regional and rural operations where updating infrastructure to charge and fuel zero emissions buses will be cost inhibitive,” stated Anna.
Anna also touched on academic views of Prof. Graham Currie from Public Transport Group Monash University, who believes that the benefits of hybrid and fully electric vehicles from an environmental and zero emissions perspective – in addition to an enhanced passenger experience – will see a slight increase in ridership. In fact, Monash Universities’ research indicates an increase of 1 – 2% in ridership as a direct consequence of introducing zero emission buses. With these environmental benefits in mind and the potential to increase ridership across Latrobe Valley, Anna has confirmed that shifting towards electromobility is the next step for LVBL.
“The environmental, technological and cost benefits offered by the B5L S-Charge, sees the S-Charge product being the next-best alternative to fully electric buses,” states Mitch Peden, General Manager Volvo Bus Australia.
“As the electromobility movement continues to gain momentum in Australia, it is becoming more apparent that hybrid vehicles will play a key role in a holistic and sustainable approach for the transport industry. As beneficial as fully electric vehicles are, we realise that these products may not be suited to every customer due to infrastructure and locational considerations.
“We understand that the large-scale implementation of electric buses will be a progressive journey rather than an overnight transition. Volvo’s B5L S-Charge is an immediately available product that requires no existing charging infrastructure and can deliver part-time electric buses without operational constraints, playing an important role in the journey towards electric transport.”
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.
“It’s great to hear that the benefits of this hybrid technology from an environmental, sustainability and passenger perspective, could provide a boost to public bus patronage in Latrobe Valley and wider Victoria. It is wonderful that LVBL is paving the way forward with clean technology and it will be interesting to see the levels of ridership looking to the future,” continues Peden.
Volvo’s S-Charge Hybrid combines a fuel efficient 120 kW electric motor, a 5-litre Euro 6 diesel engine and Volvo’s innovative I-Shift gearbox. Its smart design enables for bodywork with the same capacity as a conventional diesel or gas bus and is providing an accessible electric solution to the industry where there are few of its kind.