New MD for Scania Australia

By: Ian Porter


Autonomous buses are ready to roll but the manufacturers are waiting on Governments to flick on the green light, according to the new Scania Australia managing director Mikael Jansson

New MD for Scania Australia
New managing director of Scania Australia Mikael Jansson has big plans

 

He says the adoption of autonomy for heavy vehicles, especially buses, will be dependent on legislation, both in Europe and in other markets around the world.

Plus, he revealed that Scania will conduct trials of autonomous trucks in an Australian mining environment in the near future.

Meanwhile, when introducing Jansson to the local industry, his predecessor Roger McCarthy revealed Scania Australia is preparing to strengthen its school and charter bus range next year by importing the Scania-bodied Touring, built at the Higer plant in China, to back up the Scania-Higer A30 school bus that has established itself over the last six years.

Jansson says Scania had the technology to allow its buses to fit seamlessly into the intelligent transport systems that road authorities were introducing around the world.

"We have a test place where we are now running autonomous buses and trucks and, of course, it’s legislation that is the hurdle (to the introduction of autonomy)," he says.

Scania is currently trialling the platooning of autonomous trucks in Singapore, where the trucks transport containers around the port and is testing autonomous buses at its Sodertalje development centre.

"Of course, if we can provide special bus lanes in certain installations, then we could see Level Three autonomy," Jansson says.

At the third level of autonomy, a driver could surrender control of the vehicle in certain specified conditions and would be able to regain control easily.

"Nowadays, the technique (technology) is not that hard. But still, to do that, it’s a legislation thing, especially in Europe. It sometimes takes a long time to get things approved. We are waiting for this to happen."

 The absence of legislation that allows autonomous buses on public roads will not stop development of autonomy in other areas, according to Jansson.

 "Of course, you start with trucks in mines. "We have something in a certain closed area at Singapore that we are testing and we will make a test here in Australia also for autonomous driving related to trucks. It is not far away and we will be testing that together in a mining environment."

McCarthy says the new Touring model would be 30cm higher than the Scania-Higer A30, which is aimed at schools, to give more cargo space as required by a charter bus.

He said the Touring would be more expensive than the Scania-Higer but that the extra cargo space made it a true dual-purpose vehicle, suitable for schools work and charters.

The Touring will be built on the same 4X2 heavy-duty chassis as used by the Scania-Higer A30, and will also be only 2.5 metres wide as required in Australia, but there will be a choice of engines. As well as the nine litre, five cylinder turbo-diesel available in the A30, the Touring will also be available with Scania’s 13 litre, six cylinder engine. 

"What you can see is operators want a dual vehicle, a vehicle they can use not only on school charters or school bus trips, they want to use it as a true charter bus collecting tourists," McCarthy says.

"They’re wanting more traditional luggage space under the floor of the bus. And this is a good combination because it gives them to capability of running it as a school bus or a charter bus."

McCarthy says Scania was expecting some competitive tension between the A30 and the Touring.

"We do think there will be some transition," he says.

"Some customers who are currently buying the Scania-Higer A30 may well consider paying the price premium because they then have a dual vehicle. But, from a Scania perspective, we are selling a chassis and because it is our own Fully Built program, we will just change our product mix."

 

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