Hybrid bus advancement
The A330 hybrid, Van Hool’s latest product offering from its wide range of hybrid buses, will be on display at this year’s biennial Transports Publics 2010 exhibition, the European exhibition for mobility.
Van Hool, a Belgian bus, coach and industrial vehicle manufacturer, explained in a press statement that the new A330 hybrid bus is characterised by the special location of the diesel group; it is fitted vertically, on the left and at the back of the vehicle, which means a spacious platform can be provided for the middle door.
This diesel-electric hybrid bus is driven by electric motors and the A330’s motors receive power from two energy sources: the diesel generator and the energy storage system. This system works like a rechargeable battery; the energy produced when the bus brakes is stored and then released when the bus starts again, or when the bus requires additional energy. This means the hybrid bus is much quieter, for example when leaving a stop. In addition, fuel consumption is up to 25% lower than a normal diesel bus, depending on the type of ride, the traffic density and driving style. As a result, emissions of harmful NOx (the cause of acid rain) and CO2 (contributes to global warming) can be reduced considerably.
Hybrid models also benefit from the advantages of modern low-floor buses: low step-in at all doors, wide accessible doors, a low floor across the entire length of the vehicle, accessibility for wheelchairs and children’s pushchairs, large panoramic windows and optimum climate control.
Van Hool has recently built and delivered more than 100 hybrid buses. The Flemish public transport company, De Lijn, has already ordered 81 that are currently being delivered. Another 24 hybrid buses were delivered to Connexxion (the Netherlands) and orders have been received for Beauvais (France) and Milan (Italy).
UK big bus and coach market weak
In a recent press release the UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) announced June figures for new big bus and coach registrations. Big bus registrations fell 36% for June 2010 on 2009, with a sharp fall for single and double-decker buses. Big coaches were also down 22% for June 2010 on 2009, meaning that sadly, an improved recent trend was undone.
Paul Everitt, SMMT’s chief executive, says “for firms dependent on UK business the outlook is downbeat. Spring’s seasonal lift in big coaches was from a low base and didn’t last. At least the 3.5 to 8.5 t sector still shows a welcome growth trend.” The positive contrast of firm growth in the 3.5 to 8.5 t sector was over the March to June 2010 period.
“June saw big bus registrations fall as the sector continues in recession, so public spending cuts need to be carefully aimed to avoid weakening already damp demand,” Everitt says. He points out that “good news comes from the government’s recent plan to spend £15 m to help put more than 150 new low carbon buses to work in English bus fleets.”