The first of a batch of six Volvo Hybrid Double Deckers, takes centre stage on the Volvo stand. The advanced parallel hybrid technology on this vehicle, unique to the Volvo Group, offers potential fuel savings, air quality improvements and significant whole-life cost reductions in operation.
The six Volvo B5L Hybrid buses are due to enter service with Arriva London during the period December 2008 to January 2009 and will operate on Route 141 between London Bridge and Palmers Green.
This new Volvo Hybrid will enter series production in the fourth Quarter of 2009 and deliveries of complete production double deck vehicles will commence early in 2010. There will be some early production vehicles on the road in 2009.
The double-decker hybrid is built on the Volvo B5L chassis, which is manufactured at the Volvo Bus plant in Borås, Sweden. The bodies of the first six double-deckers are called Gemini and are from the Wrightbus company in Northern Ireland. The bus is 10.4 meters long and offers 66 seats and space for up to 20 further passengers.
The chassis layout follows the same principles as the Volvo 7700 Hybrid, which was recently launched at the IAA in Hanover, with a rear offset driveline. The battery energy storage unit is installed under two of the seats in the lower saloon, just behind the front axle, to achieve the minimum intrusion into the gangway and to optimise the weight distribution.
Volvo’s hybrid concept is called I-SAM and comprises a combined start motor, electric motor and generator with an electronic control unit. The I-SAM is located between a small diesel engine and Volvo’s celebrated I-shift gearbox. A lithium battery is charged when braking via the electric motor/generator and then provides energy to the electric motor for drive power.
It is a parallel hybrid, which means that the bus can be powered either by the electric motor or the diesel engine independently or by both engines simultaneously. This allows the bus to be equipped with a smaller 5-liter diesel engine compared with a 9-liter engine in the diesel version of the double-decker.
Fuel consumption and the emission of greenhouse gases decline by up to 30 percent. The emission of particles is reduced by up to 40-50 percent.
The hybrid technology has existed for many years but has not made a major breakthrough in Europe as yet. The buses have been too expensive with insufficient fuel savings. This is about to change with Volvo’s hybrid buses.
This is an economically feasible hybrid solution. As a result of hybrid components developed by Volvo and fuel savings of up to 30 percent, bus operators can earn a payback on the extra cost in five to seven years.