I spent last week down-hill skiing in the alps. As we do most years we chose to go by coach; 20 hours from Gothenburg to the Rauris valley in the middle of Austria. I kind of like the time we get to slow down in speed and the concept of meeting our fellow travelers before the fun starts with the skiing safari. The concept includes taking the bus every morning to different resorts, and the modern coaches are really comfortable, silent and pleasant to ride.
This year the Austrian alps showed its best side with plenty of snow. One day it was too much wind and massive snow fall, which closed the road to our valley for some 16 hours. But, who cares when all sloops present fluffy powder wherever you look! My new all mountain skies, of a brand that my sponsor contract prevents me from revealing , were really extremely user friendly and uncomplicated. Now I understand how those offpiste films are made – with the right gears it’s all so much easier.
In Vagrain our bus stopped next to a brand new Volvo 9900 with the Euro V/EEV D13 engine (see picture below). I had a chat with the driver and it turned out that it was on its first trip. The D13 provides a torque and that has made it a winner in the Alps. The I-shift gear box presents a fuel consumption of stunningly low values. Last year was a record year for Volvo coaches in Austria. The rumor of excellent performance has spread rapidly and now the new Volvo coach range has become a winner for small as well as big operators.
Volvo 9900 with D13 engine in Austria
In Finland the VTT institute performs environmental test of new and old buses. They have built a valuable database and can nowadays draw very detailed conclusions concerning emissions of nitrogen oxides, particulates, greenhouse gases and fuel consumption. Lots of myths can be terminated by the VTT environmental studies.
Today VTT, with presentations by Kimmo Erkkilä and Nils-Olof Nylund, hosted a seminar where both projects from the present and the past were summarized. It can for example be seen that the fuel consumption from Euro I to today has not improved dramatically. Only for Euro IV, the introduction of AdBlue enabled some reduction. It is also seen that gas buses have historically had much lower emissions than diesel buses. However, as the absolute emissions decrease the difference in absolute terms also decrease.
It was said that VTT is about to publish one of the most detailed reports on environmental performance of buses for public transports ever and I expect it to become a reference book for environmental impact of buses. It is expected to bring important information to public transport authorities as well as operators and bus manufacturers. I will look out for this publication when released in the beginning of the summer.
I got the task to review future trends with focus on electro mobility. The Volvo hybrid has now been on sale for more than a year and the sales have escalated gradually. Volvo Buses is very proud and honored by the warm reception all over the world. We have now sold about 450 Volvo hybrid buses with the in-house ISAM technology. Apart from the radical fuel saving, the electric start function that allows silent and emission free take-off from bus stops has brought most appreciation lately. The reliability, better than diesel, is now taken for granted.