Volvo’s new Electric bus: Designed to give passengers an experience

Getting more people to use public transport is one of the most important keys to tomorrow’s sustainable transports and sustainable cities. With its new electric bus, Volvo is taking the step into the future as regards not just environmental properties but also design and materials.

A bright and airy interior with harmonious colour combinations, comfortable seats made of natural materials, and the ability to recharge mobile phones and surf on board are some of the features aimed at attracting passengers.

“It should quite simply be enjoyable to travel by bus. Passengers should have a positive experience and be able to use their time on board constructively. In addition, getting on and off must be easy,” says Dan Frykholm, Design Director at Volvo Buses.

Inside the bus the passenger encounters an airy and bright décor. Right beside the door opening there is a large open space ideal for instance for baby carriages or a wheelchair. At the front of the bus there are several foldaway seats which can be tucked away and locked in the upright position in rush-hour traffic when more space is needed for standing passengers. Surface materials and colours have been selected with care, from the roof down to the floor.

“In order to create a warm and spacious feeling inside, we have a white, arched acrylic roof with concealed lighting to provide soft, pleasant illumination,” relates Dan Frykholm.

The rest of the interior is dominated by modern shades of green. The intention is to reflect the electric bus’s environmental credentials and at the same time create a pleasant match with the body’s green colour. The graphics used are echoed both inside and out. The pattern, an urban silhouette to demonstrate the bus’s operational area, is even repeated in the seat upholstery.

Sustainable quality
“We’ve aimed for a harmonious whole that makes for a pleasant atmosphere on board. Colours and patterns are fairly low-key, but if you look closely you’ll see that a whole lot of thought has gone into the tiniest details. Even the choice of material helps reinforce the experience. We’ve gone for sustainable quality all the way,” says Ingrid Karlsson, who is responsible for the design of the electric bus’s surface materials and textiles.

The seat upholstery is a perfect example. It is a jacquard weave made from pure wool.

“Wool is a durable and authentic natural material that is attractive to look at and comfortable to sit on. It warms when the weather is cold, and it cools when it’s hot. What’s more, it is practical and repels both moisture and dirt. It is eminently suitable in a bus designed for sustainable transports.”

The task of transforming the designers’ ideas from thought into functioning textile went to Bogesunds Weaving Mill in Ulricehamn. The company has long experience of developing complex textiles, not least for the automotive industry.

“We can clearly see how manufacturers of buses, trains and aircraft are attaching greater importance to interior design to appeal to passengers. It’s possible to do a whole lot primarily with light and fabrics in order to create pleasant interiors. Volvo’s new upholstery is a good example of this,” says Tobias Torsborn, Sales Manager Transport at Bogesunds Weaving Mill.

For a mobile life in the city
A trip in urban traffic should be perceived as a smooth journey from start to destination. And even if the time the passenger spends on board is short, he or she should be able to utilise it as flexibly and efficiently as possible – whether by working, surfing the Internet or recharging a mobile phone. All this is possible in Volvo’s electric bus. It is built for a life that is mobile in every sense of the term.

Volvo’s electric bus is a part of ElectriCity
Volvo’s electric bus is currently being tested in regular traffic in Gothenburg on route 55. It is part of ElectriCity, a joint venture tying together the research fraternity, industry and society in which new solutions for future sustainable public transport are developed, demonstrated and evaluated. The project’s participants include Volvo Group, Chalmers, the Swedish Energy Agency, Region Västra Götaland, Västtrafik, Keolis, the City of Gothenburg, Göteborg Energi, Lindholmen Science Park and Johanneberg Science Park.

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