Last year, Volvo launched its new regional bus, the Volvo 8900. This is available in a number of versions, with normal floors or as low-entry buses, as 4x2 or 6x2, from 12.2 to 14.7 meters, with seven-liter or nine-liter engines and Volvo’s proprietary I-shift transmission or transmission from ZF or Voith.
Volvo 8900 is lighter than its predecessors, more fuel efficient and has solutions to facilitate bus maintenance
“The Volvo 8900 will provide our customers with lower lifecycle costs than in the past,” says Johnny Lidman, Volvo’s Product Manager for city buses in Europe. “The low-entry versions of the Volvo 8900 is the best-selling model to date.
“The low-entry concept is an adaptation resulting from numerous demands from operators and passengers for city and regional buses,” says Johnny Lidman.
Thanks to the low floor, rapidly entering and exiting the bus is easier through the front and middle doors. It is easy for people with, for example, wheelchairs and baby carriages to travel with the bus.
At the same time, it will be possible for passengers who want to sit higher to do so at the back of the bus. The design also means that the engine will have an optimal location at the back of the bus, which will also make engine servicing easier.
When the Volvo 8900 was launched, most of the seats in the low-entry section were located on podesters, which are preferred by most of Volvo’s customers.
“It is believed that passengers’ comfort will increase if they are raised slightly above the floor,” says Johnny Lidman. “In addition, podesters will make it easier for us as manufacturer to fit such components as fuel tanks in the most optimal manner.”
But there are operators who prefer low-entry buses without podesters, and to satisfy this need, Volvo is now launching such a version. Since the seats are fitted directly on the floor, the window line must also be lowered to provide passengers with an equally good view as with higher seats.
“This bus is frequently used only in city traffic,” says Johnny Lidman. “Consequently, this version is equipped with our fuel-efficient, seven-liter engine, which is perfectly adapted to this area of use.”
The Volvo 8900 has a completely new body, manufactured from a mixture of different materials. This enables the company to select the materials that are best suited for each function.
The body structure comprises aluminum profiles that are screwed together and the roof is also made of aluminum. The major advantages with aluminum are that it is a light and corrosion-free material. The front and back modules are manufactured from steel, which has properties including the ability to form into attractive designs.
The side panels are manufactured from fiberglass and various plastic materials and are glued together. Fiberglass and plastics are light materials that produce smooth and attractive sides on the bus and the side panels are particularly easy to replace if they are damaged.
Thanks to the new design, Volvo Buses was able to reduce the weight of the Volvo 8900, compared with the predecessors. The weight reduction differs between the various versions but the reduction is about 200-300 kg. The lower weight means that the bus will have room for more passengers and this will contribute to lower fuel consumption.
The new design will produce a rigid body, which will enhance the driver’s handling of the bus and passengers’ comfort. With the new design, it will also be easier to achieve very high precision and construction quality.
“With one body structure instead of two as in the past, it will also be easier for our aftermarket customers,” says Johnny Lidman. “The mechanics will only need to be familiar with one version and the number of spare parts that must be stocked will be fewer. This advantage will become even more significant now that we are launching the Volvo 7900, which uses the same body structure.”
Volvo Buses has also designed a new driver’s seat for the Volvo 8900. The manner in which drivers perform their duties has an impact on the passenger experience, fuel consumption and the wear and tear of the bus and thus also on the lifecycle cost of the bus.
Volvo Buses interviewed many bus drivers, allowed them to test different designs, made computer simulations and mathematical calculations, all in an effort to find the most ergonomic solutions.
The driver’s seat on the Volvo 8900 has a large number of adjustment options for the seat and steering wheel to accommodate all drivers, tall or short. The controls are located where the drivers requested them.
Unobstructed vision is of utmost importance to a bus driver. The view from the Volvo 8900 is excellent with large window areas, three-way rearview mirrors and an optional rear camera. The driver’s seat has its own climate zone, with generous storage space for the driver’s personal belongings.
Low fuel consumption is the key to low lifecycle costs and contributes largely to lower environmental impact. The most recent generation of Volvo engines are highly fuel efficient and with the Volvo 8900, the company succeeded in further reducing fuel consumption as a result of less bus weight and the new transmission program.
The Volvo 8900, 6x2 with a nine-liter engine, is equipped with Volvo’s documented fuel-efficient I-shift transmission, which became even more efficient with the introduction of Euro 5.
For other models, customers will be able to choose transmissions from ZF or Voith, with their new Topodyn and Sensotop transmission programs that adapt the gears to the topography, which will further reduce fuel consumption.
Both the seven and nine-liter engines comply with emission requirements in accordance with Euro 5 and the seven-liter engine also complies with enhanced environmentally friendly vehicles (EEV). The seven-liter engine can also be equipped with particle filters to further reduce particle emissions. Both engines are adapted for operating up to 100% on biodiesel.
Safety is one of Volvo’s core values and permeates everything the company does. The Volvo 8900 is basically a stable design that complies with the EU’s R66 rollover requirement. The bus has electronically controlled brakes and the bogie version can be equipped with an electronic stability program (ESP).
All seats can be equipped with two or three-point seatbelts. The engine compartment and the auxiliary heater are fitted with fire detectors and the engine compartment can be fitted with a sprinkler system.
To increase passenger safety, Volvo has developed an integrated surveillance camera that can be installed in all models of the Volvo 8900. Volvo Buses has also developed an alcohol safety interlock device specifically adapted for bus traffic. The engine can be started without a breathalyzer, but the brakes will remain locked if the breathalyzer reveals that the driver is intoxicated.