VOLVO’S FIRST ELECTRIC BUSES IN AUSTRALIA DUE MID-2021

By: Fabian Cotter, Photography by: courtesy Volvo Bus


BREAKING: Volvo will deliver its first ever electric buses into Australia – four e-buses with 2.5m-wide locally made Volgren bodies – as part of its existing 900-bus supply agreement signed in March last year with Western Australia Public Transport Authority (PTA) operator Transperth, the company has announced.

VOLVO’S FIRST ELECTRIC BUSES IN AUSTRALIA DUE MID-2021
“We are excited to be partnering with PTA in Perth for our first electric buses in Australia,” said David Mead, vice president Volvo Buses Asia Pacific.

The first of these Perth-bound buses will make its debut to an international audience at the 2021 UITP Global Public Transport Summit, scheduled to be held in June next year at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Volvo explains.

It is following this event at some stage that this first Volvo-Volgren e-bus and three others like it will make their way to Western Australia to begin necessary integration efforts prior to commencing operation by early 2022 – as expected by both Volvo and the PTA - the organisations confirm.

The March 2019 Volvo-PTA agreement includes provisions for the introduction of alternative-powered vehicles into the Perth public transport bus network when the technology became available in Volvo’s Australian product line, says Volvo.

"We are excited to be partnering with PTA in Perth for our first electric buses in Australia," said David Mead, vice president Volvo Buses Asia Pacific.

"Our relationship with the PTA now spans over a decade and in years to come the city of Perth will indeed be a Volvo city with 100 per cent of the bus fleet being Volvo.

"Volvo’s contract with PTA included a technology roadmap that allowed PTA to access diesel, self-charging electric and battery-electric vehicles over time.

"PTA can access the variety of tools available to them and match the technology to the route and need," Mead explained.

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TRIALING NEW TECH

The buses will be operated for the PTA by Swan Transit in Joondalup, Perth’s primary urban centre in the northern suburbs. They will join the existing Central Area Transit System (CAT) in Joondalup, which are zero-fare routes, Volvo explains.

Introducing alternate technologies is nothing new for PTA and Volvo; when Volvo came to market with its hybrid buses in 2013, the two parties conducted a successful trial of the bus in Perth – which not only allowed Volvo to prove the concept, but grow hybrid bus sales across Australia, it says.

"Trialling new, green technology is a great use of our public transport network, already one of the most environmentally friendly ways to get around Perth," said Western Australian Transport Minister Rita Saffioti.

"This is the first time we have trialled electric buses on a CAT route and I’m excited to see what commuters think about this new technology," she said.

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BUS MAKE-UP

As Volvo explains, the units will be all-electric 11.7-metre long, 2.5-metre-wide vehicles with local Australian bodies designed and built by Volgren Australia. Whilst these units will be the first of their kind for Volvo in the Asia-Pacific region, the chassis are based on established Volvo technology already implemented in Europe, it states.

"Volvo Buses have long been recognised as a leader in electro-mobility and sustainable public transport," Mead said.

"The Volvo electric driveline has been well proven as the backbone for our complete electric buses in Europe where they have been in operation since 2015. By delivering the product in chassis form, we can work with long-term partners such as Volgren to assemble the bus here in Australia. "It also has allowed us to create new climate options for the vehicle, more suited to Australian conditions" he added.

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LONG-TERM PLANNING

While handover of the first electric buses to the PTA is not scheduled until late next year, the planning is well underway, Volvo confirms. Implementing electric vehicles involves many more stakeholders than a traditional bus sale – with Volvo saying the planning for this project started last year.

"This project is about much more than the buses. We have worked with the PTA on a number of areas including simulating the routes to create our charging strategy, charging infrastructure, understanding capital works needs in the depot, training of staff, safety elements, certification and standards compliance. That means we are creating a scalable, end-to-end implementation plan that can be replicated in the future," explained Mead.

The company points out that whilst Volvo has extensive experience in electric buses, full commercialisation of the localised electric bus solution for Australia will not be until 2022.

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Specs

MAKE: Volvo

MODEL: Electric Chassis Concept

LENGTH: 11m - 12.5m

DRIVELINE: One or two electric motors, two-speed transmission; Power (max.) - 1 or 2x200kW, Torque (max.) - 1900Nm at the driven axle

BATTERIES: Lithium-ion, up to 396kWh storage capacity

CHASSIS: Full low-floor

CHARGING: CCS system

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