Australia has built its very first electric bus

The Swinburne University of Technology in cooperation with BusTech and AutoCRC has developed electric bus. The all-new bus has a slick look, 200 kilometers (124 miles) of pure electric range and tons of really cool features.

9/2/15 5:00 am chumakdenis 1

A team of researchers from the Swinburne University of Technology in cooperation with BusTech and AutoCRC managed to create full battery electric bus -- it is the first time electric bus is designed, engineered, and manufactured in Australia.

So, yes, Australians should be really proud of it.

Anyway, enough talk. Let’s start our review and begin with the electric drive axle (one of the key components of the bus).

 
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The bus is controlled by touch screens, can carry more than 50 passengers, and features leather-look seats that come with their own USB-charging dock.

Electric drive axle

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The bus features an AVE130 electric drive axle, which dimensionally fits into the same envelope as a conventional drop center axle, making the system simple to integrate into existing designs.

In BusTech’s configuration, the AVE130 utilizes pure battery power, although the system can be used in serial as a hybrid with a conventional combustion engine, or via alternate power sources such as fuel cells or overhead lines.

With no requirement for a traditional transmission, the electric axle provides smooth acceleration in all driving conditions.

4701.jpg“It’s exciting times for ZF Services in Australia, particularly with BusTech, and the bus industry in general” - said Gary Bain, ZF Services Australia OE Business Manager.

“Working closely with BusTech and their design and development partners such as the CSIRO and the Swinburne University, we have the finished vehicle today, the all-electric bus ready for the marketplace.”

 ZF has previously supplied BusTech with products such as transmissions, axles, steering and suspension systems, with the new project paving the way for zero-emissions operation along busy urban roads. 

A few words about BusTech Company

BusTech is a unique company: not only do they produce chassis and bodies for buses, but they undertake some of the best market research in the bus industry.

With over 800 vehicles in service under the Transit Australia banner, they have incredible insight into the requirements of public transport passengers.

Ideal for traffic jams

Designed for axle loads of up to 13 tones, each wheel is fitted with a high-revving (11,000rpm) asynchronous electric motor, which provides maximum drive power of 240kW, while continuous power of 120kW is available per axle. Like many electric engines, the motors have strong torque characteristics, with output peaking at 21,000Nm per axle.

This makes the system ideal for stop-start city traffic, which also takes advantage of the systems power regenerative braking, which tops up batteries while in operation. Since there is no requirement to provide space for a diesel engine, BusTech has been able to employ an interesting new cabin design.

AVE130 components

The AVE130 axle uses widely available existing components such as standard wheels and tires, brake calipers, ventilated brakes discs, as well as wheel bearings and seals, making the units extremely service-friendly. In operation, the axle paves the way for improved torque distribution which in turn reduces tire wear.

The system also includes sensors for temperature, ABS, and speed.

Operational targets between recharges for Australia are 300km and 200km in Malaysia.

Outside of the electric axle, the new design also utilizes a conventional RL85A low-floor front axle, and many modern innovations, such as touch screens, LED lighting, as well as all-electric doors and air conditioning.

Visioning future

An example of the forward thinking of the design, the bus utilizes rear vision cameras, which provide a wider field of vision and also streams the bus exterior, saving drivers from having to make mirror adjustments.

Previous projects

Previous collaborations between BusTech and ZF Services Australia have included projects such as the BusTech CDI, the world's first low-floor twin steer double decker bus.

The project was developed in part due to Australia’s front axle load regulations, which limit design flexibility, especially for a city bus with a passenger capacity of around 90.

While the steering setup is common in trucks, ZF Services worked closely with BusTech to develop the system to allow for easy access throughout the cabin for passengers, while the 12.5 meter package has considerable operational cost savings over conventional articulated buses.

Energy-efficient bus

The Australian electric bus concept has an integrated touch-pad dash system built into the design to enable modularized updates for the driver interface. This will be able to be configured to carefully control how much electricity is being used.

"4702.jpgWe developed high and low voltage electrical systems for the bus, including the design architecture for electrical circuit, motor controls, supervisory control and other systems to ensure the most efficient operation for the electric bus" -said Professor Kapoor.

“This was a key aspect to achieving product life-cycle cost savings.”

Charged using renewable energy sources

The zero-emission bus could be a big winner for the environment if charged using renewable energy sources, such as solar- or wind-generated electricity.

Testing period

The all-new electric bus will be trialed on routes in the Gold Coast in the coming months before going into mass production.

For now, the prototype, which has a range of 124 miles (200 kilometers), will be charged back at the depot in between trips. However, the developers anticipate that in the future, charging will be done by opportunistic charge stations installed around cities to facilitate a highly efficient electric public transport system.

Well, let’s wish them good luck with their lofty intentions and wait more news from them. 

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