With a wealth of chassis models running smoothly each day on Australian roads, Volvo is a major force in the local bus and coach industry. It’s set to expand on this presence in 2024 as it prepares for the Australian release of an exciting new coach option.
“The B13R model was launched globally at the start of this year,” Volvo Bus Australia head of product and engineering Mark Fryer told ABC.
“We’ve already had a handful of customers purchase them here, with delivery set to begin in early 2024.”
The B13R will soon join a stable of popular Volvo chassis that have become mainstays in fleets around the nation. The likes of its B8R and B8RLE are the backbone of Volvo’s product range, while the B11R coach is a trusted product for operators around Australia
Fryer says these ongoing models are “tried, tested and reliable” products that continue to perform around the country, yet there’s plenty to be excited about with Volvo’s latest release.
“The B13R has newly designed electrical architecture and an updated safety package, emphasising Volvo’s commitment to our core value of safety,” Fryer says.
For operators, Fryer says there are plenty of benefits in this latest Volvo model. With a renewed focus on safety and total cost of ownership part of this model, Volvo has also completely redesigned its electrical system, resulting in a new digital display dash for drivers.
Volvo has also increased the movement of the steering column to improve the ergonomics for drivers, while changes to the rear axle means there’s a brand new transmission in this coach model. Instead of just offering its standard iShift transmission, the B13R also has an option for overdrive included to bring down the revs on high gears, saving fuel.
“In simulations and testing completed by Volvo worldwide, this transmission, incorporated with other advancements, was found to have fuel savings of up to nine per cent,” Fryer says.
“This is reached through a collaboration of changes, including a new 13L engine with the transmission that is encased within a new chassis style that we’ve designed.
“Then, with the new electrical architecture, we’re able to adjust our variants to suit the operator’s need for different routes and typography.”
These changes mean the B13R can complete a variety of operations, running tourism work in New Zealand’s mountainous ranges while also running charter services between Melbourne and Sydney. The new Volvo variants mean that Volvo can cater the coach down to the finest features, gaining different requirements for the one vehicle.
The B13R also has a bigger engine and the largest AdBlue tank Volvo has ever offered at 90L. For an operator, this means less trips to fill up AdBlue and major cost benefits as more power comes with less fuel.
“It’s perfect for the hilly typography of New Zealand and other regions as well as the harshest of Australian conditions,” Fryer says.
Volvo Bus Australia general manager Mitch Peden says: “Alongside our BZL Electric, the B13R launch makes for an exciting moment for Volvo Bus Australia in its history.”
The BZL Electric was launched in 2021, yet Fryer says it’s still groundbreaking in terms of what it can offer for Australian operators. With 47 units currently operational in Australia, Volvo still continues to be blown away by how the model turned out.
Recently, Volvo has added dual charging capabilities to the vehicle, meaning there’s now a charging port on each side of the bus. When it comes to storing and charging BZL Electrics at depots, drivers can now charge the bus on either side.
Volvo has also successfully conducted intra-operability testing with all tier one charging suppliers, advancing a model that has been on Australian roads since its initial deliveries to Western Australian operators more than two years ago.
“The past year has given us a great chance to complete real-life testing on the BZL Electric,” Fryer says.
“This background work has made the BZL Electric a flexible model that can facilitate different charging suppliers and telematics providers to give customers plenty of choice.”
On top of this, Volvo has also increased the level of data and cybersecurity that it can offer operators. In line with the global Volvo Group, its cybersecurity standards align with the Sustainability Development Goals (SDG).
“This has been important for us as a group, as it means our customers can benefit from this data safety and have all of its vehicle data securely stored,” Fryer says.
“This has been achieved by several advances, including adding multi-factor authentication onto telematics devices. It’s these tiny tweaks that is making Volvo and
its array of reliable and new vehicles better every year.”
What to look forward to in 2024
Volvo has signalled a move to increase its range of zero-emissions bus products in 2024.
“Volvo will, in time, update the electrical architecture of the B8R, B11R and BZL models,” Peden says.
“We’ll be doing this to comply with international standards for cybersecurity UN R155 and R156. Although they’re not yet Australian laws, we expect it to be coming into Australia soon, so we’ll be prepared for it.”
Volvo will also continue to develop its training network. In 2023, Volvo completed 163 training days for customers and supply partners. In 2024, the bus and coach powerhouse will be looking to increase this number following a recent appointment to its electromobility and competency team.
“We look forward to continuing to support our customers in their electromobility journey,” Peden says.
“With the release of another ZEB product, and alongside our aftersales support, we’re excited to help more Australian operators become more sustainable in 2024.”