Volvo BZL Electric put through its paces in Sheffield

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The .Volvo BZL Electric single and double-deck demonstrators stand side by side at First’s Olive Grove depot in Sheffield. Both have undergone testing at First South Yorkshire recently. VOLVO BUSES

Volvo’s BZL demonstrators have been on test with First South Yorkshire as part of a programme to evaluate electric options for its operations

The double-deck Volvo BZL Electric demonstrator has been put to test by First South Yorkshire as part of the operator’s evaluation of a number of electric options. Volvo Buses’ double-deck BZL Electric demonstrator was on loan to the operator for three weeks, before being swapped for the single-deck model. The operator, which currently has a largely Volvo diesel fleet, tested the two vehicles on its route 51, travelling through Sheffield city centre between Lodge Moor and Charnock, with the buses running for 18 hours and covering 180 miles per day.

Fleet Manager Andy Metcalfe explained: “We’ve been using this route as a testbed for decades because of the gradients involved, it goes from about 1,000ft above sea level on one side of the city, down through the city centre, and back up to about 800ft above sea level on the other side. We recognise that if a vehicle performs well on this route, it should be able to perform anywhere across the city, and the Volvo BZL Electric has been compliant with everything we’ve asked of it. When the vehicle comes back to the depot when it’s close to midnight there has been at least 20% of charge left.”

Prior to the vehicles being delivered, a route analysis was conducted by Volvo to provide further insight into the performance that could be expected from the BZL. The buses were leaving the depot typically at around 0630hrs in the morning and returning by midnight.

Andy continued: “The driveability and smoothness of the BZL Electric is good, and the steering is very responsive, precise, smooth and light, with low noise levels and a spacious layout, these attributes would all add to an excellent journey experience for our customers. Our existing relationship with Volvo Buses remains strong and they offer a very good support network, we’ve had great parts supply and communication with our local dealer Crossroads Truck & Bus over the years. I’m certainly hopeful that we will be able to offer zero-tailpipe emission public transport in Sheffield in the future.”

Both the single and double-deck Volvo BZL Electric buses trialled by First Bus featured a five-battery configuration, and were recharged using a portable charger overnight.

Volvo said the bus was well received by the local community and online during the trial, and also attracted the attention of Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts, who was complimentary about his experience on the bus.