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

A CAUTIOUS AND CONSIDERED approach towards electro-mobility for Australian conditions bodes well for Volvo’s 2022-due BZL electric bus’s long-term success here, following company statements in the lead-up to its 2021 Sydney Bus Show launch this September.

(L-R) Volvo Bus Australia e-mobility team: Mark Fryer, Dean Moule and Sam Compasso.

Highlighting its decade-long journey into electro-mobility locally following its hybrid bus product introduction, the company is proud to have taken the time to ‘set things up properly’ as a solid foundation for the BZL e-bus in Australia.

"The BZL is made for a long life on the road, in line with Australian standards and our customer’s expectations of what Volvo product durability will be: it’s a chassis designed for the long-haul," said Volvo Bus Australia general manager Mitch Peden.

"We take great pride in that our electric bus offering will be introduced to the Australian market at the right time; we’re taking time to set up long-term partnerships in the e-mobility space, we’re implementing specialised training – ultimately we’re busy ensuring this product is the highest quality, has the highest safety standards, and will last in the Australian environment," Peden explained.

Dean Moule - Informing B5L Hybrid passengers.jpg


Preparing to see both its hybrid chassis and fully electric chassis enter the market within less than 10 years of each other is largely due to the "astute guidance and leadership" of VBA’s primary electro-mobility expert and engineer Dean Moule, the company says.

"We embarked on the next phase of the electro-mobility project with the electric chassis in 2016 by scoping out what we wanted to do and how we would achieve it, in order to meet the expectations of our marketplace," stated Moule.

For both the B5L S-Charge hybrid and BZL electric chassis projects, the similarity of goals were extensive time and resources invested in creating a quality, safe and reliable product, Moule outlines.

"As far as executing the plans went, we wanted to be a sustainable company and set up goals that pertained to the sustainability benchmarks of the company and industry," he said.

"We’ve taken our time to devise and formulate plans that deliver a reliable and safe product – as opposed to rushing our process.

"There were similarities between the hybrid and BZL project in wanting to deliver a product that the customer would be happy with. That is the number one goal.

"In line with our core value of safety, we also want to ensure that our vehicles are safe and reliable and ultimately deliver a great customer experience," Moule explained.

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VBA has utilised Volvo’s stringent European standards to provide a safe, reliable and consistent framework for developing and supporting the BZL chassis, just as it did for its hybrid product, it points out.

These standards have been at the forefront of VBA’s planning and execution throughout its electro-mobility journey and strongly reinforce VBA’s values of quality, safety and environmental care, the company says.

Reflecting on these values, Moule said: "We always want to improve in every possible area, and with electro-mobility we want to keep looking at our projects as product evolutions, not revolutions."

"Everything is being constantly refined. I think the biggest thing that we take from this is that we’ve utilised the extensive experience with the electric vehicle in Europe and we’ve taken an experienced and proven driveline and then packaged it into a new chassis for the world market – and specifically for the Australian market – allowing it to be built on by our body build partners," he explained.

"It runs the same electrical system, suspension and pneumatic system as our B8RLE Euro6 and hybrid products so it’s not a complete retrain for the technicians, it’s an evolution," continued Moule.

This quality translates to various BZL benefits from a product perspective, says VBA, with Moule explaining advantages for Australian customers and operators.

"We will offer a full low-floor vehicle city bus - in providing low profile tyres, easy boarding for passengers, and a low-floor platform throughout the vehicle," he said.

"It’s one thing to have a high-quality and reliable vehicle for the operator, and it’s another that the passenger has a good experience in getting on the vehicle easily and manoeuvring comfortably.

"We will offer a wide, clear space inside the vehicle that allows the passenger to have a good experience in addition to the bus being quiet," said Moule.

VBA E-Mobility Team - Mark Fryer Dean Moule Sam Compasso.jpg


"From an operator perspective, it will have great accessibility and serviceability at every step of the way," he added.

"The way the components will be packaged and the way the vehicle will be built is to ensure that servicing and repairs can be carried out with minimum fuss," he explained.

The accessible design of the BZL chassis ensures optimum servicing, presenting the advantages of taking less time to service and costing less to do so – ensuring that buses are back in service more often and on the road where they should be, VBA states.

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