Photo by Tim Giles.
A few days ago, (FCCC) Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation, introduced the MB-HEV hybrid-electric bus at the BusCon 2008. It features a number of innovations that bring a 40 percent reduction in the amount of fuel that will be used on average from the typical diesel-only bus chassis.
Of greatest influence over its fuel savings is the new Eaton hybrid electric motor that has been fitted onto these new hybrid buses. The Eaton system runs off of several lithium-ion batteries working in conjunction with the 6.7 liter Cummins diesel engine (300 horsepower) and heavy duty automatic transmission, to produce smooth even power regardless of which form of accelerated power is chosen by the buses on board electronics system (a.k.a. hybrid supervisory controller).
The buses will take advantage of their overabundance of rolling weight (maximum GVWR, 32,000 lbs) to regenerate power back to the batteries during breaking, via regenerative braking. This is not a P-HEV, plug-in hybrid, so the batteries will also be maintained on a daily basis through the diesel engine.
Wheel Cut on New Hybrid Bus
The new bus also will feature an improved wheel cut that will make these commercial buses 10 percent more maneuverable in tight city streets (parking lots, street corners, driveways, etc.). This will offer more driver control to take tight routes that previously were too difficult for past commercial buses with poor turning radius's, thus adding to its efficiency slightly.
Production is slated to begin in the first quarter of 2010, and may not only be implemented in city transit, but also in the production areas of motor homes, delivery vans, school buses, airport shuttle buses, and utility vehicles, such as the "cherry picker" pictured above.
These new bus chassis's will undoubtedly cost more, but will offer substantial federal tax credits for their implementation in any of the 50 states of the US. This is just another form of fuel savings to look forward to in our future. But those nose "gold" diggers commonly found on these mass transit systems... well, you will still probably have to contend with them, just with better efficiency!