Volvo’s plug-in hybrid beats fuel and energy expectations

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Test results in Gothenburg claim the vehicle saves over 80% on fuel consumption compared to a conventional diesel bus

Volvo Buses’ has claimed its plug-in hybrid reduces fuel consumption by 81%, with the total energy consumption reduced by over 60% compared to a corresponding diesel Euro 5 bus, according to figures taken from field tests being conducted in Gothenburg.

Johan Hellsing, Project Manager for the field test at Volvo Buses, said: “Our performance results are slightly better than we had anticipated. The plug-in hybrid consumes less than 11 litres of fuel for every 100 kilometres.”

The field test in Gothenburg began in June 2013 and includes three plug-in hybrid buses, whose batteries are recharged at the terminals. This makes it possible for the buses to run on electric power for most of the route.

The bus is fitted with an electric motor which is powered by a lithium battery. It also has a small diesel engine. The bus is recharged from the mains power supply via an energy storage unit mounted on the roof. It takes five or six minutes to recharge. The bus can run exclusively on electric power for approximately seven kilometres – without any noise or emissions.

“Although there are many long, steep gradients on the routes, the plug-in hybrid buses can run on electric power for about 85% of the time. The diesel engine only kicks in when the bus needs some extra power,” Johan Hellsing commented.

“The test drivers from GS Buss really appreciate the quiet, vibration-free ride that you get with an electric powered bus.”

Hanna Björk, Environmental Strategist at Västtrafik, said: “The results show that the plug-in hybrid can help us to achieve our ambitious environmental goals, particularly concerning the reduction of emissions and noise.”

The field test of the plug-in hybrid buses in Gothenburg involves 10,000 operating hours and will continue for most of next year. A demo project which will bring eight more plug-in hybrid buses into service will commence next year in Stockholm.

A number of European cities are showing a keen interest in the plug-in hybrids. Hamburg and Luxembourg have already signed contracts for supplies of the buses in 2014 and 2015. Volvo Buses is working together with the city councils, public transport authorities and providers to develop long-term sustainable solutions for public transport. Volvo Buses plans to commence commercial manufacture of plug-in hybrids towards the end of 2015.

Those engaged in the plug-in hybrid project in Gothenburg are Volvo Buses, Göteborg Energi, Business Region Göteborg, Trafikkontoret and Västtrafik. The project is co-financed by Life+, the EU’s financing programme for environmental projects.