BS IV-compliant bus chassis features front-mounted engine; designed for inter-city applications.
MAN Trucks India has introduced the new ‘CLA’ bus chassis range that is now BS IV compliant. This includes two bus models – 18.250 (4×2) and 22.300 (6×2) multi-axle. The company has partnered with three leading bus body builders in India, including the MG Group who came up with MAN-MG Mammoth buses. The chassis are assembled at MAN Trucks’ manufacturing plant in Pithampur, Madhya Pradesh.
The CLA bus chassis are designed for intercity coach application. A robust structure using tried and tested components in the chassis and driveline create the prerequisites for high reliability and longer product life, claims MAN. With the Central Government according greater priority to building new highways across the country for faster connectivity, intercity bus travel is expected to get a further boost. Operators are demanding for new solutions that offer attractive value proposition to help bring in more passengers.
The new CLA BS IV bus chassis are powered by MAN D-0836 turbo-charged, inter-cooled common rail direct inject system engines that comes in two power outputs – 250 hp and 300 hp. It is paired to a 6-speed manual transmission. Superior power delivery and linear torque provide powerful acceleration starting even at low engine speeds are assured by the manufacturer. To meet BS IV requirements, MAN has opted for SCR technology, thereby making the engine fuel efficient, environment friendly and more reliable.
As far as passenger safety and comfort is concerned, air actuated drum brakes and anti-lock braking system (ABS) are expected to improve braking safety and driving stability. The retarder and the patented engine valve brake from MAN provide enhanced braking efficiency and improved brake life.The New CLA BSIV chassis have been designed to incorporate the full range of comfort and safety at the driver’s workplace, in turn, making the journey much safer even under tough operating conditions.
Claims to offer superior quality, performance, and longer aggregate life.
Tata Motors has launched the exclusive ‘Tata Motors Genuine Oil’ range consisting of engine oil, gear oil, and rear axle oil for its entire range of commercial vehicles. The company claims that the superior quality of these multi-purpose oils are suitable for the new-generation engines, and will help customers achieve better performance.
Tata Motors Genuine Oils are exclusively available across 1400 Tata Motors CVBU-authorized workshops. Formulated and tested for Tata vehicles, the branded oils have been developed as per regulations and specifications required for the Indian commercial vehicles market. The oils are available in four variants as follows:
Tata Motors Genuine engine oil CI4+ 15W40 & CH4 15W40 – Priced at Rs. 185/- per Ltr. this is a range of multi-purpose diesel engine oil for new generation engines with long drain intervals and is suitable for mixed fleet operations.
Tata Motors Genuine gear oil 80W90 LL – Priced at Rs. 210/- per Ltr. this has been especially formulated for new generation synchromesh transmission performing under rugged terrains with extended oil intervals.
Tata Motors Genuine rear axle oil 80W140 LL – Priced at Rs. 240/- per Ltr. this is a heavy duty multi grade oil especially formulated with extended oil drain intervals for axels performing under tough circumstances with higher operating temperatures.
India has to work out a ‘cleaner’ approach to Auto LNG, by locally developing renewable gas.
Europe is already surging ahead with Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) or Biogas (renewable natural gas) for commercial vehicles. In India too, a lot of action is taking place in the LNG scene. Just last August, Union Government has notified revised gas cylinder norms for LNG stations, which is aimed to help establish a storage and supply chain for refueling stations through ‘daughter trucks’, just like for CNG stations in Delhi.
Home-grown Tata Motors has taken the lead interest in LNG, with the debut of country’s first LNG-powered Tata Marcopolo LNG Bus (LPO 1613) in Kerala late last year. In fact, the company was the first OEM here to come up with gas-run heavy truck Prima 4032.S LNG, displayed at 2014 Auto Expo. Eco-friendliness and soft price make it a compelling alternative fuel for the company. LNG is also cheaper than diesel by nearly 40 per cent and almost 15 per cent dearer than CNG as well.
It is also reported that other domestic CV makers including Ashok Leyland, Mahindra, and BharatBenz are developing LNG variants of their products. Scania, for instance, has already introduced ED95 engine series (Euro 4 compliant) in its products that can run almost completely on bio-fuels including Bio-CNG. In the supply side of the LNG, India’s largest importer of LNG Petronet, and Reliance Petroleum have expressed their interest in offering LNG at fuel stations.
Yet, the LNG dialogues happening in India are solely related to conventional natural gas that are non-renewable and purely imported. There is a need for a much `cleaner´ approach to auto LNG, by encouraging local and commercial production of Bio-methane. Both the government and the auto industry has to work together in this regard, so as to extract the real `eco´ benefits of using LNG on CVs.
Why can’t we engineer a low-cost electric bus platform using Lead Acid batteries, along with charging and mechanized swapping infrastructure tailor-made for specific local needs?
Electric buses are the serious talk of the ‘auto’ town these days, so it may appear as if the era of silent, zero-emission urban transport is finally here. But is it? Any such claims actually amounts to stretching the truth somewhat, perhaps, by over a century! The history of electric buses is as old as the history of buses itself, that the application of electric propulsion and battery technologies in buses precedes that of diesel or even IC engine. For instance, the city of London reports demonstration of electric buses as early as 1893, while the London Electrobus Company introduced the battery-electric double-deckers in 1907. Infrastructure for recharging and swapping of depleted batteries were set up too – a century ago!
Then how did the electro-mobility disappear from the automotive scene you may wonder. Failure of technology? Practicality or affordability issues? Not really, the interest in battery buses waned in the light of improved reliability of motor buses and other urban transports. Historians of technology opine that the booming oil industry and war economy oriented industry’s focus towards internal combustion engines. Further, for a technology to succeed, it has to be commercially bankable for businesses in a capitalist world, its sustainability or humanistic potentials always take a back seat. The IC technology, with the business potentiality of bombastic components industry and ever paying oil base, must have definitely won the case against the impeccant battery-electric technology.
Think about it, what if the industry and governments at the beginning of the last century were smart and humane enough to consider some big-picture thinking on the sustainability of mobility systems? Things would have been very different by now – electro-mobility must have become the norm of the industry; battery-electric technologies may have attained greater heights of efficiency; clean energy may have got greater push, etc. – you can add all those future mobility visions that we are mulling over a century later now. We are reaping all those falls that our previous generation of industry and society sowed long back. We are right at the start point, rethinking the entire construct of urban mobility, once again! It´s a missed opportunity, I would say.
Okay, even if we take pride in the way the battery-electric technologies (especially Lithium-ion) have improved in our times, how efficacious are they in producing the intended results? Keep aside the range anxiety associated with them, are they affordable in the first place? That too for a developing society like ours, where we still fight several battles on various social indicators that the Western world has already won, how can we expect ourselves to adopt EVs in the same pace as they can? Nor our energy infrastructure is cleaner enough to make a difference.
Having said that, we must try to be the part of solutions to our limitations as well. Discovering local and affordable electro-mobility solutions is crucial for our society to ward-off the ills of present-day urban mobility and embrace EVs. In this regard, we met Mr. H.K. Agarwal of Sympar Associates, Delhi who is currently assisting the development of technology at technical institutes for mass conversion of pre-owned cars and buses to battery-electric vehicles (BEVs). With over 65 years of academic and technical experience in the fields of electric traction and electronics, he has a very different take on the scenario of electro-mobility in India, battery-operated buses in particular.
Local and Affordable Solutions
Notably, Mr. Agarwal was involved in a BEV project led by Late Prof. (Emeritus) R. Arockiasamy of IIT-Delhi some 15 years ago. It involved conversion of a standard Tata chassis bus into a hybrid battery vehicle featuring a battery bank with a tiny diesel generator. The project let to an operational working model successfully tried within the IIT Delhi campus. “It was an indigenous, cost effective and short gestation solution for intra-city needs, but we were well-ahead of times that the project was left in limbo” he says. The electric propulsion system of the project used DC Traction motor from Crompton and the controller was designed by Prof. Arockiasamy´s team. The battery pack consisted of 20 Lead-Acid (LA) batteries, recharged by a small generator.
Taking stock of new technological developments, Mr. Agarwal admits that the DC Traction motors are no longer used in EVs, and the AC Traction Permanent magnet (brushless) motors are best suited for e-buses. By why give up LA Batteries for the expensive and much-hyped Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) batteries, when its claimed benefits and reliability are often disputed, he asks. Although LA batteries have relatively low energy-to-weight ratio, they are highly reliable and proven, locally available at affordable costs, easily replaceable, and recyclable. On the contrary, the Li-ion batteries are thrice more expensive and imported, pushing up the cost of the entire EV, while the recyclability know-how is still immature even in developed markets, he adds.
But doesn’t weight and compactness of battery pack matter in electric buses? Let´s consider the conundrum this way. We are taking about intra-city bus applications having pre-defined routes and trips, with speeds not more than 50 kmph, along with limited passenger payload. Thus, the veteran says, the battery pack can be tailor-made to suit local route requirements by either increasing or decreasing the battery units. Even if the extra weight of LA batteries result in limited travel range, this can be managed by trip and charging time management, he affirms.
Moreover, won’t LA batteries in e-bus applications face challenges in power delivery and charge/ discharge cycles? City buses involve frequent stop and sudden acceleration, for which the battery architecture should be robust enough to supply ample energy for disposal. Mr. Agarwal replies that sound battery management is essential for any EV, may it be Li-ion or LA batteries. There is a heavy drain of energy while starting from idle, climbing up a steep, or during sudden acceleration, whereas while braking or moving down the hill, the energy released can be recuperated. Therefore, he suggests engaging super capacitors as short-term energy repository in the architecture, from which power can be discharged for starting or acceleration needs, and can be replenished out of regenerative braking. This can eliminate the short-term energy demands of an e-bus.
For longer range and quicker charging cycles, he proposes low power gensets of 10-15 kW rating to supplement the battery architecture. They can run on relatively cleaner fuels like LPG, CNG, Biogas, or Biodiesel only on demand with start / stop feature, and maintain constant rpm. Air-conditioning needs can also be taken care, while the size of the battery and its load weight can be reduced as well. An another alternative is replaceable battery pack, where a charging and mechanized swapping infrastructure can be set up at each terminals to avert the charging periods during peak hours. He adds that the fast charging technologies popular in the West may prove fatal in the tropical weather of our country, may even damage the batteries.
In fact, the concept of swappable batteries has caught the attention of Indian government in place of conventional charging infrastructure as in the developed markets. It is learnt that EV policies may favour such cost-effective battery ecosystem, as the government is aiming towards bringing 10,000 electric buses on road in the years to come. Further, private investments in this regard is also expected to pick up, with firms like SUN Mobility, Exide Batteries, Amara Raja Batteries, and Electrotherm reported as working on swappable batteries.
“We have to think local to find answers to our own problems” says Mr. H.K. Agarwal, adding that cost effective battery/ hybrid-electric powertrains for buses can be locally devised to address our immediate needs. Apart from building e-buses on new chassis, it is very much economically feasible to convert standard diesel buses into BEVs, he claims. For instance, there are over 1.6 million buses running on Indian roads, a huge chunk of those are city buses. With new scrappage regulations like that of NGT on culling vehicles over 10 years in Delhi NCR, they can be easily converted into eco-friendly vehicles. That way, tax payers’ money can be saved, he claims. Mr. Agarwal is approaching various technical institutes, auto components makers, and EV entrepreneurs across the country in search of partners to bring out an operation model of low-cost electric buses for commercial viability.
Although the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020 aims to usher in 7 million EVs on Indian roads by 2020, there exists a huge void in actual number so far since its launch in 2013. The only successful display of EVs on our roads are the e- rickshaws, which again is a local and cost-effective solution. I think it’s time to jump into action with affordable technologies and local ideas, rather than wait forever for a one-stop solution to e-mobility. There isn’t any yet!
Attractive styling and reliable built of the new Irizar i8 has won tons of accolades.
World´s leading bus and coach maker Irizar made a vibrant premiere of its flagship i8 luxury coach at this year edition of Busworld Europe event in Kortrijk, Belgium. The i8 has been nominated as the Best Coach of the Year 2018 in Europe by a jury of specialist journalists from the continent. The award is also claimed as a recognition to the bus maker´s strategic efforts to in recent times to position itself among the top independent OEMs in the industry.
Akin to other Irizar PB and Century coach ranges, the `i´ series is well-recognized in the European market for its dynamic design cues and innovative built. The latest i8 takes this unique personality of the buses to whole new levels, thanks to its strong visual impressions and bold stance. Take for instance the pronounced line that flows across all sides of the coach – a styling element that is far more refined and harmonious that most of its rivals. Not to miss out the abrupt lines generating suave reflections on the body.
The eye-ball grabbing V-shaped stainless trim on its chest, flanked on both sides by the new LED headlights, combined with the nicely fashioned windshield is revolutionary. The rear profile of the coach is even more evocative, thanks to aggressive tail lamps and air louvres for the engine compartment, in-sync with the coach’s style. On the inside, the highest level of personalisation is eminent, with driver and passenger comfort and utility given utmost preference.
Irizar i8 is available in four lengths – 12.4 m, 13.2 m. 14 m, and 14.98 metre. Seating arrangement can be either 2+2, 2+1 or 1+1 uber luxurious seating, with kitchen and washroom, and a variety of entertainment systems and fabric finishes. Powertrain options for the i8 touring coach includes a 10.8-litre and 12.9-litre 6-cylinder diesel engines (Euro 6), with the later generating up to 510 hp of power and 2,500 Nm of torque.
Buyers can either opt ZF Ecolife 6-speed automatic gearbox with torque converter, or a ZF AS Tronic fully-automated 12-speed manual transmission. The buses are also equipped with electronically-controlled pneumatic suspension (ECAS) and braking assistance using ABS and ESC technologies, aided by EBD.
Aptis, an unique urban e-mobility product, has received “Innovation Label” at Busworld Awards this year.
At the 2017 Busworld exhibition in Kortrijk, Belgium, French rail and passenger transport firm Alstom displayed its unique electro-mobility solution for city applications. Inspired from the design and working of trams, the `Aptis´ is an electric city bus-like product, with unconventionality as its basic trait! It has been developed in partnership with NTL.
On the face of it, the Alstom Aptis renders a futuristic low-floor bus concept, but the fully-steerable wheels situated at both the ends of the vehicle with no overhangs makes you look awestruck! This functionality is perhaps the important character that Alstom feels necessary for all city buses in future. The vehicle occupies 25 percent less surface area in curves, can have ridiculously short turning radius in city traffic and BRTS systems, and what not?
The double doors, again derived from tram design, offer easier passenger flows inside and out, quite friendly for wheelchairs and strollers as well. There are panoramic windows at both ends, offering 20 percent more window surface than regular buses. The cabin also experiences low noise levels, claims the company. The passenger compartment can be easily customized to suit unique needs. A lounge at the rear, two or three twin-doors, or customized seating layout – anything is possible with the flexible interior design says Alstom.
Where are the batteries and power systems located then? Fully low-floor layout must hint you that they are placed up over the roof, with the axle-mounted drive motors powering the wheels. Alstom has also previewed ground-based static charging system `SRS´ for electric vehicles like Aptis, something again inspired from the tramways infrastructure.
The Aptis is presently on trial runs on the Ile de France network, while similar experimentations in other French and European cities are planned in near future. It is manufactured at NTL’s plant in Duppigheim, with key components sourced from Alstom’s facilities in France.
New Sprinter City 45 can seat up to 13 passengers, with additional standing room for 9 commuters.
Whenever Europeans think of “Minibus”, their imagination is more likely to go straight to Mercedes-Benz Sprinter City mid-size vans! They are in production since 1995, and the sheer range of customized vehicles built on the Sprinter chassis is simply amazing. Spanning four model ranges (Sprinter City 35, 45, 65, and 77) and 17 different models, the Sprinter City undertakes diverse tasks from regular-service and inter-city routes to touring and transporting people across cities, suburbs and countryside.
The latest revision to the Sprinter City 45, which debuted at the 2017 Busworld Europe early this week, features additional three rows of seating with an extended overall length by 400 mm. Built on the Sprinter panel van with the longest available wheelbase (4325 mm), the new minibus boasts long rear overhang that serves as the platform, giving it a length of 7.36 metres. Since the wheelbase remains unchanged, the turning radius of 15.3 m is also unaffected. Daimler claims that this enhances the maneuverability of the vehicle while driving along narrow lanes or city traffic.
A major highlight of the Sprinter City 45 is its low-floor entrance, with a mere 270 mm floor height above the ground. A double-wing outward-swinging door glazes down to the floor level, facilitating easy access into the passenger compartment. Daimler Buses claim that the cabin is well-thoughtfully laid-out, with air-conditioning or standard climate control system, LED lighting, and stop signalling system. The new “City Star Eco” seats are light and functional, with padded seat surfaces and backrests. Large destination display panels up front and rear panel design is also new.
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter City 45 comes fitted with OM 651 2.14-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine (Euro 6) with high-torque potentials. The engine generates a standard output of 143 hp, while an optional 163 hp version is also available. It is paired to a 7G-Tronic Plus 7-speed automatic gearbox. Daimler builds these minibuses at its assembly in Dortmund, England. Both RHD and LHD versions are available.
MAN´s premium touring coach now bags unique design language, improved engine dynamics, and a more rigid skeleton.
MAN Truck and Bus introduced the Lion´s Coach in 1996. Since then, the bus range has set several benchmarks in the segment, especially in the European markets. At the 2017 Busworld Europe, the company has premiered the latest iteration of the Lion´s Coach, with loads of improvements and visual updates. The bus has even won “Grand Coach Award” at the traditionally held Busworld Awards Competition European Coach Week (ECW) in the run-up to the event.
To start with, eye-catching new-age design language and styling cues with unique silhouette and LED-DRL embellishments presents a whole new character to the Lion´s Coach. The fully-LED headlamps, just as the tail lights, are around 50 percent bright than halogens, while also offering greater range and visibility. On the inside, MAN has slapped-in several changes to make the cabin more attractive. Take for instance the LED strip-illuminated floor area, or the improved storage areas and luggage racks.
The latest Lion´s Coach is compliant to the ECE R66.02 roll-over standards of Europe, which is applicable to all class II and III buses from November this year. MAN says that high-strength steel components into bus´s skeleton and use of tube-in-tube technology for the roll bar in the B-pillar area ensures that crash energy is absorbed effectively in the event of a roll-over. There is also a 20 percent improvement in aerodynamics of the body, adds the company.
The Lion´s Coaches are powered by `D26´ 12.4-litre 6-cylinder diesel engine (Euro 6) that can deliver power up to 500 hp depending on the variant. The latest improvements have enhanced the output by around 20 hp and 200 Nm of torque, along with the addition of a secondary retarder and a more powerful EVBec engine brake. Power is transmitted to the wheels by MAN TipMatic gearbox featuring Smart-Shifting function and Idle-speed driving.
The driver assistance and safety technologies available in the MAN coach includes Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Lane Guard System (LGS) and Attention Guard system. MAN´s `EfficientCruise´ cruise control with the EfficientRoll coasting function is also on the list. The premium touring coach is available in three avatars – 12.1 m, 13.3 m, and 13.9 metre in either two or three axles configuration. By this year end, a 13 m dual-axle variant of the Lion´s coach will also be ready.
Special edition coaches feature a unique interior and exterior design elements and badges.
This year´s Busworld exhibition that just concluded at the city of Kortrijk in Belgium was the last of its kind, a tradition coming to an end after 45 years. Volvo Buses wanted to make the glorious occasion special, with the signature “Kortrijk Edition” of its premium luxury coaches. Only 10 units of the specially designed Volvo 9900 and Volvo 9700 coaches with Kortrijk signature ornamentation are built by the brand. The buses are up for grabs till the end of this year in all markets throughout the Europe.
The “Kortrijk Edition” Volvo 9900 and Volvo 9700 coaches boast unique interior and exterior design elements and signature badges. This includes specially designed seat upholstery and leather-clad entry grab-handles, among others. The chassis of the coaches feature automatic height control, while Volvo’s fuel-saving I-See system is also on board the luxury liners.
Both the flagship Volvo 9900 and 9700 models are powered by Euro 6-compliant 11-litre diesel engine that generate max power up to 460 hp. The engine is mated to advanced and energy-saving Volvo I-Shift automatic gearbox. The buses are equipped with Volvo Dynamic Steering technology as well.
The comprehensive safety package of the Volvo coaches includes Lane Keeping Support, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Collision Warning with Emergency Braking. In addition, Knee Impact Protection, Front Impact Protection, and Front Under-run Protection System is also on the list, along with extra lighting for optimum visibility. The buses are loaded with camera to ward-off blind spots for the driver.
The hybrid system offers up to 8.5 percent lower fuel consumption than the conventional diesel-powered Citaro.
Daimler Buses had world debuted its Citaro Hybrid range of urban buses under the Mercedes-Benz marque at the 2017 Busworld Europe, Kortrijk in Belgium. The company has now made the hybrid technology optional for a wide range of Citaro buses fitted with both diesel and natural gas-powered engines (NGT models) in rigid, articulated, or low-entry layouts. Daimler says that it considers hybrids not as an interim technology en-route to electric drive systems, but as an efficient way to hone the ICE systems.
The Citaro hybrid combines a series of energy-efficient technologies to save fuel consumption. To start with, the Intelligent Eco Steering, an electro-hydraulic steering system, operates only on demand unlike the conventional hydraulic steering systems. Next is the braking energy recuperation, by which the electric motor that assists the IC engine acts as a generator during braking and overrun phases.
The energy thus generated is then stored in double layer capacitors called as `supercaps´ (aka supercapacitors) that are characterized by high power density. They are best suited for high power peaks and quick changeover between charging and discharging during start/stop cycles in typical city bus operation. Daimler has ideally placed the twin-modules supercapacitors (2 Ah total capacity) containing 16 double layer capacitors at a space-saving location over the roof. A water-cooler inverter converts the DC into AC to drive the electric motor.
The disc-shaped synchronous electric motor, on the other hand, is positioned between the IC engine and the automatic gearbox, just like the way it was done in Mercedes-Benz E-300 BlueTEC Hybrid some five years ago! In fact, this motor is used in Mercedes S-Class cars as starter motors! This straightforward design is perhaps compact and less-heavy, also effective in assisting the engine when it demands power, especially while moving off from idle. The electric motor simply reduces the engine burden, that is why there is hardly any boost to the max power and speed generated. Yet, fuel consumption is reduced in the process.
Again like its passenger cars, Daimler has equipped the Citaro hybrid with a 48 volt energy architecture thereby eliminating any high-voltage safety restrictions in its design. The compactness of the hybrid system results in almost no loss of passenger space in the cabin. The hybrid system is compatible with Citaro´s two prime range of engines – Mercedes-Benz OM 936 G 6-cylinder in-line diesel in both vertical and horizontal layouts, and M 936 G natural gas engine used in Citaro NGT.