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

PRIOR TO ITS new BZL electric bus chassis debuting on Australia shores this year, Volvo Bus Australia (VBA) is reminding the local market of the value of its S-Charge hybrid bus, essentially given the still relative infancy of e-bus fleet charging infrastructure here.

“While fully electric buses can offer benefits beyond this, the large-scale implementation of electric buses will be a progressive journey rather than an overnight transition," said Mitch Peden, general manager Volvo Bus Australia.

Touted as "…the next-best alternative to electric buses" - and with more than 10 years of electro-mobility experience in the Aussie market - VBA is acknowledging the major role that its B5L S-Charge chassis has made in, "…paving the way towards this technology, with these hybrid vehicles ranking in as the next-best alternative to electric buses."

Following the initial release of the B5L S-Charge chassis in 2013, Volvo’s S-Charge chassis has been making waves in the industry where there are few of its kind, the company states.

"The environmental, technological and cost benefits offered by the B5L S-Charge sees the S-Charge product being the next-best alternative to fully electric buses," stated Mitch Peden, general manager Volvo Bus Australia.

"Compared to regular diesel buses, Volvo’s hybrids enable up to a 39 per cent saving on fuel and emit up to 40 per cent less climate-impacting carbon dioxide.

"While fully electric buses can offer benefits beyond this, the large-scale implementation of electric buses will be a progressive journey rather than an overnight transition.

"Volvo’s B5L S-Charge is an immediately available product that can deliver part-time electric buses without operational constraints, and therefore plays an important role in the journey towards fully electric transport," Peden explained.

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Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide were the earliest Australian cities to adopt the B5L S-Charge after VBA participated in the hybrid bus trials for Public Transport Authority of Western Australia in 2014, trials for Brisbane City Council in 2014, and trials for Adelaide Metro/Adelaide City Council in 2015.

Throughout the years, Volvo’s hybrid technology has demonstrated environmental benefits across these major cities in reducing C02 emissions, the company says.

The B5L S-Charge has also been instrumental in offering Zone Management technology, in allowing operators to achieve zero emissions in designated zones by operating exclusively in electric drive mode without relying on the electricity grid, or requiring expensive infrastructure for charging, VAB states.

This technology also has the capacity to enhance the passenger experience for commuters in promising a silent ride, and giving city-siders improved quality of life through decreased air and noise pollution, it adds.

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The Volvo B5L S-Charge has garnered a positive reception from small and large operators across the country, according to VBA.

The company’s long-time bus-operating customers - including McDermotts in Tasmania, ComfortDelgro Corporation and La Trobe Valley Buslines in Victoria - were quick to adopt Volvo’s hybrid model into their fleets, and the S-Charge has played a key role in mitigating environmental impacts and enhancing fleet efficiency, it says.

Volvo’s B5L S-Charge combines a fuel-efficient 110kW electric motor, a right-sized 4-litre Euro 6 diesel engine and the Volvo I-Shift gearbox. Its design enables the use of bus bodywork with the same capacity as a conventional diesel or gas bus and features significant weight savings while allowing for passenger capacities on par with conventional diesel buses, it explains.

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According to VBA, the B5L is built to cope with the needs of dense and demanding city traffic, but it is also suited for routes that service suburbs.

With great reliability and a service-friendly layout for easy maintenance, the B5L S-Charge is designed to ensure optimum uptime for operators, it states.

"The B5L S-Charge chassis is part of VBA’s holistic approach to sustainable transport solutions and has done an incredible job in facilitating part of our electro-mobility journey towards zero emissions," affirmed Peden.

"We’re very grateful to have operators of all sizes adopt this technology and to see cities across Australia reaping the environmental and economic benefits.

"VBA is fortunate to have the only dedicated bus team of electro-mobility experts in the country supporting this technology, and I have full confidence in the teams’ ability to support the awaited BZL electric chassis, just as they have for our hybrid product."

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