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Scania unveils new range of Australian electric bus models

Scania broke new ground in late 2023 when it delivered its first electric city bus in Australia. Now, more exciting bus and coach technology is on the way in the near future

There have been plenty of innovations for Scania in Australia since it first provided engines through a distributor to local coach operators in the late ‘60s. Following the first importation of a Scania bus chassis into Australia in 1978, the global heavy vehicle manufacturer’s capabilities has evolved through to Euro 5 and 6 models as well as its popular hybrid range.

In late 2023, Scania made the leap and delivered its first 100 per cent battery electric bus in the nation. Delivered to South Australia’s Department for Infrastructure and Transport (DIT) to be run in Adelaide, the buses signify a milestone moment for Scania in Australia’s bus industry.

“We are delighted to place this bus into the hands of our DIT operator partners,” Scania Australia managing director Manfred Streit says.

“This delivery marks a key milestone for Scania buses and coaches in Australia. It is a tangible first step on the road to a transformational public transport future, and one that Scania is very much pushing for wider adoption.

“Globally Scania has been working on transitioning to a zero tailpipe bus solution for many years and we have several cities in Europe already well advanced in their integration of Scania’s 100 per cent battery power buses into their fleets.”

The bus was delivered following an extensive testing period that included running routes around Adelaide while loaded with several tonnes of ballast to simulate passengers. After coping with the terrain, congestion and distances required, the imported bus from Scania’s Sweden factory was officially unveiled as part of the state’s transport network.

The battery electric bus, assembled and bodied by BusTech Group in Adelaide, is a 12.5m model that seats 41 passengers plus a driver, with room also available for nine standees. As part of the Scania New Bus Generation featured on the electric model, a new electro-pneumatic park brake is joined by built-in safety features that signify a technological update.

This massive moment in Scania’s Australian bus history wasn’t admired for long within the brand’s four walls, as it quickly began working on another next generation vehicle. The K-series zero-emissions bus programme has just been announced for the Australian market, with Scania working to import the fully electric low entry bus chassis within the next year.

“We’re eagerly anticipating the arrival of the first of our third generation K-series Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) chassis,” Scania Bus and Power Solutions Australia director of sales Julian Gurney told ABC.

“Offering a revised e-machine, Scania’s modular designed system with two-speed gearbox and a R 660 drive axle, the New Bus Generation K-series chassis features a high degree of chassis component sharing.”

The third generation K-series battery electric chassis, when it arrives in Australia, will feature four new generation battery packs, with three of these batteries strategically placed on the roof while one sits in the engine bay to optimise weight distribution and passenger capacity. This configuration means the expected range is around 400km depending on the specification and usage profile.

It’ll also come with a front rigid axle that’s identical to Scania’s diesel chassis and an engine subframe that reduces noise and vibrations through the vehicle, giving passengers a smoother and quieter experience.

When it comes to the battery packs, they’ll be assembled into modules at a new Scania battery factory that has just finished construction next door to Scania’s main vehicle assembly plant in Sweden. The majority of battery cells will be sourced from Northvolt’s battery cell factory in northern Sweden.

“Northvolt shares our commitment to sustainable production, ethical sourcing, recycling and the use of renewable energy and this will support Scania in having a responsible supply chain,” Gurney says.

“The new battery facility, opened in September 2023, enables us to adhere to our modular system and simultaneously oversee our sustainability production targets, aligning with our science-based objectives.”

The batteries use Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC), which provides high energy density per packing volume. Each battery pack weighs around 600kg and has an energy capacity of 104kWh. With a new and improved in-house battery management system partnering it, Gurney expects the battery system to optimise power and energy storage.

“Our new third generation K-series heavy-duty BEV chassis is perfect for all weather roads, particularly in urban areas and on intercity routes, with the R 660 rear axle delivering good operating economy and a long service life,” Gurney says.

“The new chassis boasts improved body builder adaptation flexibility, providing options to customise the chassis to specific requirements, while intelligent drivetrain component positioning simplifies maintenance, reducing costs and improving uptime.”

For drivers, the Scania Smart Dash will include a new driver display in the third generation K-series electric chassis that replaces the traditional analogue/digital instrument cluster. The new interface is configured for electric buses and diesel powertrains, with visual and sound indicators being added for the first time to create a driver environment that is less stressful and easier on the eyes and ears.

Gurney hopes the new digitalised work environment will help operators attract new drivers and motivate existing drivers to stay longer with the company.

“Scania stands ready to assist its customers transition to zero-emissions at a pace that suits them and with due regard for the total operating economy of their fleets,” Gurney says.

“In addition, we can provide repair and maintenance contracts through the life of these zero-emissions vehicles as well as a range of charging solutions, continuing Scania’s tradition as a one-stop-shop for our customers.”

Once delivered, the new Scania electric chassis will come complete with a full range of Advanced Driver Assistance functions, including Advanced Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control and many more.

It all signals a new era for a mainstay of Australia’s bus and coach market, as Scania looks to forge its own path on the way to zero-emissions transport. Following the exciting electric bus launch in Adelaide and the announcement of its K-series battery electric chassis coming soon to Australia, Gurney is looking forward to the brand’s decarbonisation progress in 2024 and beyond.

“We’ve delivered our first zero-emissions city bus to the Department for Infrastructure and Transport in South Australia late in 2023, with nine further chassis now scheduled to be built to that first specification during 2024,” Gurney says.

“We now expect to receive our first supply of the third generation K-series BEV chassis by mid-year, which will further advance our capacity to meet the needs of bus operators around Australia who are keen to shift towards a zero-tailpipe transport system.”

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