By: Fabian Cotter, Photography by: courtesy Volvo Bus Australia

BREAKING: A longer range, even smaller carbon footprint - from energy source to on-road use - plus full bio-diesel compatibility are striking hallmarks of Volvo’s latest ‘S-Charge’ self-charging hybrid electric bus, announced for Australia recently.

In applying the well-to-wheel methodology, the Volvo B5L S-Charge produces a lower carbon footprint than many grid-charged electric vehicles, claims Volvo Buses, adding this is “…especially true for New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.”

Officially known as the Volvo B5L S-Charge this self-charging bus with hybrid power is an upgrade of the company’s original hybrid electric bus, whose new capabilities mean it can now drive silently and emission-free on electricity at higher speeds and cover longer distances than ever, Volvo states.

The B5L S-Charge delivers an environmentally sustainable electric solution to the Australian market that is ready to be deployed immediately – without the need to wait for additional infrastructure to be built, the company explains.

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"The new S-Charge model is one of Volvo’s cleanest buses and will reduce the carbon footprint by up to 40 per cent compared to equivalent diesel buses," said Håkan Agnevall, president of Volvo Buses.

"The Volvo B5L S-Charge can also drive on biofuel, reducing CO2-emissions even more. It is probably the most fuel-efficient and reliable self-charging bus on the market," he added.

While there is a strong push towards electric vehicles within the Australian market, electricity generation in itself has a substantial carbon footprint, the company is quick to remind. It says thus the ‘well-to-wheel’ measurement - the sum of emissions released from the production of energy, such as extracting oil or generating electricity to the vehicle being driven - becomes an important factor to determine the true impact of a vehicle’s carbon footprint.

In Australia that means, in applying the well-to-wheel methodology, the Volvo B5L S-Charge produces a lower carbon footprint than many grid-charged electric vehicles, claims Volvo Buses, adding this is "…especially true for New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria."

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 ABOVE: Håkan Agnevall, president of Volvo Buses.


"We are now expanding our customers’ possibility for harnessing the benefits of electric power while … retaining the impressive flexibility offered by hybrid buses," Agnevall said.

"The new S-Charge model can be deployed on almost any route since no charging infrastructure is needed, which enables fast implementation and improved operational efficiency for our customers," he explained.

Describing the launch of the Volvo B5L S-Charge as the solution many customers have been seeking, general manager of Volvo Bus Australia, Lauren Downs, said: "We certainly have electric buses in our future plans for the Australian market, but our priority has been, and will continue to be, providing sustainable transport solutions for all Australians."

"The Volvo B5L S-Charge delivers that and, most importantly, it delivers it now.

"There is no need to consider the build of additional charging infrastructure, which can be difficult depending on depot location, grid connection and power supply.

"This solution is not only sustainable, but it is tried and tested; we know it works and we are able to deploy immediately.

"The Volvo B5L S-Charge provides us another tool in the ‘tool kit’ as we progress from clean diesel and bio-fuels to self-charging and grid-charged electric vehicles – all of which will play a role in the future," Downs stated.

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ABOVE: General manager of Volvo Bus Australia, Lauren Downs.


According to Volvo, the B5L S-Charge runs in electric or hybrid mode and can operate on up to 100 per cent biofuel. Additionally, it has proven to run in electric mode up to 50 per cent of the duty cycle time - and always runs emission-free at bus stops, in depots and in defined zero-emission zones.

The batteries are charged via both the energy captured through braking regeneration and its small engine. As a result, the Volvo B5L S-Charge can be used on, "…virtually any bus route both in urban areas and in the suburbs," Volvo states.

The upgrade includes improved connectivity via Volvo’s Connected Service offering, which allows for geo-fencing and Volvo’s Zone Management function – the latter making it possible for the operator to programme the bus so it automatically switches to electric within selected areas and has its speed regulated without driver intervention.

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Volvo adds it is also possible to define zones for sustained self-charging to ensure emission-free operation in an upcoming zero-emission zone. Ultimately, this allows the bus to be driven silently, emission-free and energy-efficiently on electricity before arriving at the bus stop, while at a standstill for boarding and exiting, and when leaving the bus stop, it states.

As it explains, the Volvo B5L S-Charge is already the, "…world’s best-selling self-charging bus," and is, "…top-ranked in up-time and reliability by major cities."


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