Perth plans hybrid trial

Volvo has teamed with WA’s PTA to trial a hybrid bus, but it won’t hit Perth’s streets till February

Perth plans hybrid trial
Perth plans hybrid trial

August 13, 2012

A year-long hybrid bus trial has been scheduled to start in Perth next February, servicing an inner-city Public Transport Authority-run Central Area Transit (CAT) operations.

A Volvo B5RH low-entry hybrid will be supplied with a Volgren body for the trial.

The fully integrated parallel hybrid system used in the Volvo B5RH allows the vehicle to operate on either electric only, diesel only or a combination of both depending on conditions and energy requirements.

The Volvo hybrid chassis is powered by an environmentally friendly EEV 5 litre diesel engine which generates 215hp. This is complemented by an electric motor capable of producing 120kW (160hp).

The electric motor serves both as a motor and a generator that recharges when driving and braking. At higher speeds the diesel engine takes over and the batteries are charged, while at lower speeds power can be electric only. Zero emissions are reached when the diesel engine shuts off during idling at a red light or bus stop.

Volvo Buses Australia General Manager Peter Duncan says Perth’s CAT service is an ideal place for this technology.

"Low average speeds, high idle time, a single depot location and congested city streets are where we have seen our technology shine overseas," Duncan says.

Volvo has been operating hybrid technology successfully for almost five years with high levels of reliability and operation experienced throughout northern Europe.

In Europe, hybrid technology has proven to save as much as 37 percent in fuel consumption, reducing CO2 emissions by the same amount.

Volvo and PTA will closely monitor the new hybrid bus trial.

"We need to understand how our existing, proven technology will perform in Australian conditions," Duncan says.

"We have a strong focus on issues such as layout, cooling, air-conditioning performance and battery life.

"We don’t have all the answers which is why we are pleased to be in partnership with PTA with a long-term view."

Duncan says a trial of new technology is a logical next step based on the long term partnership between the two organisations.

"We are prepared to learn together," says Duncan.

But Volvo also remains cautious about the widespread use of hybrid technology.

"It doesn’t suit every route for every operator and the economics of running a hybrid fleet don’t stack up just yet," Duncan says.

"But with the introduction of the carbon tax and the focus on environmental solutions, we have to be ready should the industry head that way."

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