Yesterday I visited the electromobility conference in Graz, Austria. When other parts of the world initiates massive programs to support the introduction of electric cars, trucks and buses, Europe normally discusses the economic crisis and little or nothing is done on the federal level.
But, the city and region of Graz shows that there is hope. Where higher authorities fail, common sense of regions and cities inspires. Austria has many strong suppliers for the European automotive industry. For the region of Graz it is a matter of survival to keep a high competence and to support the upcoming technologies. City of Graz is promoting electric cars through charging posts and by enabling car poles.
City of Graz electrical vehicle fleet
Graz was one of the early adopters of the Volvo Hybrid bus. An interesting presentation was made by Mario J. Müller at FIBAG/SFL. The electrification of a small “garden truck” was in one way seen as an interesting upcoming product, but more interestingly as an enabler for new architecture and city planning. In the future, small professional vehicles make it possible to close areas in the winter and still allow zero emissions, low noise vehicles to deliver supplies to restaurants and shops. New architecture can open up for clean transports all the way to your office desk. Possibly it will be a surprise to meet an electric garden truck on the sixth floor in the future office, but when architecture and transports develop in synergy, new arenas and solutions appear. And by then it might be the most natural event in the world.
Volvo Hybrid Tuck now also running in Austria
At the conference Volvo was represented by both buses and trucks. The common hybrid technology was the main subject of the day. I’m very glad to be able to welcome our truck colleagues to the market. We already have some examples of cities that have chosen to invest in both Volvo Buses and Volvo Trucks using the same workshops and technicians for the service.
Volvo Hybrid Bus in traffic in the City of Graz
Graz city has “branded” their electromobility initiative in the typical colors and patterns seen on the hybrid bus.
Volvo Buses is proud of the position on the Indian market. One of the strong contributors is the low fuel consumption that we achieve by using our “top of the line” engines. I frequently get questions about what is “normal” and what can be expected when it comes to fuel consumption. And, the answer is always: “It depends mainly on: driving speed, idle time share, air conditioner usage, topography and driver behavior”.
Mostly the average speed is used as the sole parameter for characterizing the driving behavior. This is a very rough approximation. I have looked at the overall statistics of the Volvo Buses and coaches in India.
When assessing the B7R and RLE buses in India the average time share is:
Idle: 24% (which is very low in an international perspective)
The contribution to the drive part is (summarize to 76%):
Pedal (acceleration): 46%
Coasting/”Sailing”/engine breaking (no pedal): 16%
Top gear driving: 11.5%
Fuel consumption versus drive speed (km/h). Note that average speed in India is significantly lower than “drive speed”.
When assessing the fuel consumption, looking at data of what is normal and what is achieved by other buses at similar conditions can be very helpful. Still, the picture of the fuel consumption of all buses must be seen in the light of the variations caused by all parameters, although here only plotted versus the drive speed in km/h.
A high idle share, a demanding topography or an aggressive driving behavior all have high impact. Buses driven in hot areas with high utilization of the air condition always have a significantly higher fuel consumption than the corresponding buses at more moderately temperated regions.
The very low fuel consumption reached by Volvo Buses in India contribute to low operating costs and high residual value.
Volvo Bus India has become the jewel in the Volvo Bus crown. When I last visited India, our factory in Bangalore showed first class performance in all aspects. From my viewpoint of course the environmental performance was of certain interest.
The energy use per complete bus, during manufacturing, is the lowest benchmark measured ever within Volvo Buses. With one MWh per bus the Hosakote in Bangalore factory sets a clear bench mark for the rest of our production facilities. Also the amount of scrapping (including transportation materials) and waste water amounts are of leading standards among our complete bus factories.
Our product development department in India increases gradually. As a global company, the Bangalore subsidy of the product development is involved in the global bus development. The experts in India contribute to the development on several markets, just as the engineers in Sweden, Poland, Brazil, Mexico and Canada may contribute to the development of the buses built in Bangalore.
The new technology development of Volvo Buses for India has now led to a full new product range:
1. Volvo 9400PX Multi-axle at 14.5m, PX platform & 11-litre engine
2. Volvo 9400XL Multi-axle at 13.7m with 9 litre engine
3. Volvo 9400 with 9-litre configuration
4. Volvo 9400 with 7 litre configuration
5. Volvo 9100
6. Volvo 7400XL City Bus
7. Volvo 7400 City Bus
8. Volvo 7400 CNG City Bus
9. Volvo 7400 Semi-Low Floor City Bus
10. Volvo 8400 Commuter City Bus
Launch of the new bus models 9100, 9400 and 7400 in India on Dec 29th, 2011. In the foreground Håkan Karlsson, Executive Vice President Business Areas (former President Volvo Bus Corporation) and Akash Passey, Managing Director and CEO, Volvo Buses in South Asia.
As in most densely populated cities of the world, the traffic conditions in India cause accidents including buses and other vehicles. Next to the environment I pay a lot of attention to the safety aspects. I am therefore particularly glad to see that the effects of collisions with cars and three wheelers have been brought down even further with the introduction of the new front under run protection (FUP).