First order for 'economic' hybrid bus

A bus operator in Luxembourg has ordered six of Volvo's new 7700 Hybrid vehicles, which the company says are the first commercially viable hybrid buses.

Volvo developed the hybrid components in-house, optimising them for bus operations. It says that this, combined with fuel savings of up to 30 per cent, gives a payback of five to seven years on the higher initial cost.

A few weeks ago Volvo Buses launched its new Volvo 7700 Hybrid bus model. As a result of hybrid components developed by Volvo and fuel savings of up to 30 per cent, it is an economically attractive hybrid bus.

Sales-Lentz, Luxembourg's largest travel and transport company, signed the order at a large transportation symposium that it had arranged. The topic discussed during the symposium was how public transport can contribute to fulfilling the Kyoto Protocol.

"One way to contribute is to operate with buses that have lower fuel consumption and thereby lower emissions," said Jos Sales, one of the partners of Sales-Lentz. "But to be able to choose such buses on a large scale, it must be economically viable. This is the reason why we selected Volvo's hybrid buses. Despite the higher purchase price, over time they yield a lower cost per kilometre due to the substantial fuel savings."

The buses will be used in normal route traffic in and around Luxembourg City, preferably on stretches with frequent stops so that the hybrid technology can be fully optimised.

The first bus will be delivered in autumn 2009 and the other five in 2010 when series production begins.

Volvo has chosen to develop a parallel hybrid in which a small diesel engine and an electric motor operate individually or together. The bus stores braking energy in batteries and uses this energy to power the electric motor. The diesel engine is shut down at bus stops and the bus moves off using the electric motor. When the bus reaches 15-20km/h, the diesel engine starts up again.

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