VOLGREN, VOLVO AND LATROBE VALLEY BUS LINES UNITE IN HYBRID LOW-FLOOR AUSSIE FIRST

By: Fabian Cotter


BREAKING: THE FIRST OF EIGHT new Volgren-bodied Volvo hybrid chassis buses for Latrobe Valley Bus Lines (LVBL) – and the first full service hybrid in Australia - is being launched in Moe, Victoria, offering "up to a 40 per cent fuel saving" and cleaner Euro 6 emissions standards for the local community, it was announced recently.

VOLGREN, VOLVO AND LATROBE VALLEY BUS LINES UNITE IN HYBRID LOW-FLOOR AUSSIE FIRST
LVBL completed the order last year after a successful trial of a Volvo hybrid, it's reported.

Innovative Gippsland transport company Latrobe Valley Bus Lines (LVBL) last year ordered eight of the buses for its fleet following a successful trial of a Volvo hybrid bus, it’s reported. The first of the new buses will start work on Thursday, 16 August, after an official launch ceremony at Moe Library.

Dandenong-based bus body-building company Volgren is building the new Volvo Euro 6 buses on a hybrid chassis imported from Volvo in Sweden.

All eight buses will feature low-floor layouts to improve passenger access and safety, and will operate on timetabled public transport routes around the area, it’s stated. They will supplement the existing Volvo Euro 6 diesel buses in the low-floor route service fleet, LVBL adds.

In an Australian first, with the support of Pubic Transport Victoria (PTV), the Morwell-based, family-owned bus company ordered the buses with Euro 6 emission standard – the highest and cleanest level for commercial vehicles worldwide, currently.

LVBL managing director Rhonda Renwick said the first bus would be followed by three more later this year.

"We have closely followed the progress of the build at Volgren, which started in January this year," Renwick said. "It has been a fantastic team effort by everyone involved, starting from Volvo in Sweden to Volgren to the Valley."

"These new hybrid buses use up to 40 per cent less fuel than a conventional diesel bus, moving to and from bus stops silently with the diesel engine shut off, reducing emissions and noise, and increasing passenger comfort."

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A CLOSE WATCH

The new buses will be under the watchful eye of the LVBL mechanical team, supported by Volvo’s partner in Victoria, CMV Truck and Bus Pty Ltd., from their dealership in Traralgon.

General manager - Volvo Bus Australia, Lauren Downs, said Volvo and their local partner in CMV are thrilled to be part of the environmental project with Latrobe Valley Bus Lines, and look forward to supporting them deliver attractive, innovative and environmentally friendly transport solutions to the Valley.

"Latrobe Valley Bus Lines share a number of common values with Volvo, including passion for what we do, innovation, trust, diversity, safety and care for the environment. When two companies come together with such common values amazing things can happen, and the launch of the first Volvo Euro 6 hybrid in the country with LVBL is definitely symbolic of that."

TEAMWORK AND COMMUNICATION

Volgren CEO Peter Dale congratulated Latrobe Valley Bus Lines on being "forward thinking operators".

"We’ve long held the view that the next five to 10 years will bring about more change than the bus industry has undergone in the last 30 years," Dale said. "We’re seeing that change all across the world. And now it’s starting in Australia and being led by forward thinking operators like Latrobe Valley Bus Lines."

Dale says Volgren had always specialised in the design, development and application of new technologies. It has introduced many revolutionary bus body solutions to the market – starting with aluminium.

"We pride ourselves in providing engineering solutions that meet the developing needs of our customers and we’re more than ready to take on the challenge of developing the best possible bus body for the Euro 6 hybrid," he said.

Only last June was it announced that CDC Victoria has placed an order for 50 new Volgren-bodied Volvo hybrid buses for Melbourne metro use.

BODY CHALLENGES

Volgren - now the first Australian manufacturer in the country to successfully deliver a bus body on the new Euro 6 Volvo B5LH hybrid – says it worked closely with the Volvo development team in Sweden, sharing concepts and refining the design of both the body and chassis, ensuring each stage was validated and complied with Australian Design Rules.

The completed prototype breaks new ground in bus body design and manufacturing assembly processes, says Michael Kearney, Volgren’s Product Engineering manager.

"The design and construction of the Euro 6 hybrid bus is quite different [to a traditional bus], with high voltage battery packs, radiator, air compressor and associated equipment all mounted in the roof," Kearney explained.

With the majority of this hybrid’s components in the roof, those responsible for engineering, manufacturing and production had to rethink the assembly line. In fact, Kearney says, innovative changes were developed to accommodate the new build process to enable the Euro 6 hybrid to fit within the factory processes normally dedicated to the assembly of diesel buses.

"Environmentally friendly vehicles are becoming an ever-increasing focus for society, and products such as the Euro 6 hybrid place us in a great position to support the bus industry in their realisation, and pursuit to save up to 40 per cent in fuel, and cut emissions by half."

B CORP CERTIFICATION

Renwick says the company’s commitment to hybrid technology was in keeping with its commitment to operating a socially and environmentally responsible business.

Latrobe Valley Bus Lines is the only bus company in Australia to have earned B Corps certification, a third-party sustainability certification that indicates a high level of accountability in governance, transparency, environmental and social impact.

The company also supports a range of grassroots community organisations, including the Kindred Spirits Foundation, the Big Red Kidney Bus, ReActivate Latrobe and Latrobe Women in Business.

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