Antifreeze Coolant and Brake Fluid: “Fluid” Health of Automobiles

There is an essential link between regular fluid maintenance and enhanced vehicular life and safety, may it be cars or commercial vehicles.

In the initial years of liquid-cooled engines, a miscellany of simple compounds were tried as coolants, as mere water proved ineffective at extreme temperatures. Mostly household and kitchen ingredients, like honey, sugar, and molasses! The idea was to simply push the boiling and freezing points of the water to the extremes as much as possible, so that heat transfer from the engine case happens even at sizzling desert temperatures, while engine also catches up when cranked at freezing winters. Then came all-season `antifreeze´ coolant made from ethylene glycol sometime in the late 1920s. It is no exaggeration to say that this invention led to the advancement of internal combustion engine in the next 100 years to come even today. To the extent that our modern day automobiles doesn´t necessary have to boast their radiators in the windward side (front) of the vehicle, may it be rear-engined Volvo 9400 or mid-engined Porsche 911 GT1! The role of antifreeze coolants in an engine´s cooling system is phenomenal.

It is said that the coolant system wards-off almost 30 percent of combustion heat of heavy duty engines used in commercial vehicles, while more than 50 percent of premature engine failures in heavy vehicles are attributed to improper maintenance of cooling system. For instance, modern-day coolants feature certain additive packages to prevent rusting and corrosion in the system, especially to foil cavitation in wet cylinder sleeves in diesels. Further, Therefore, a proper understanding of what coolant is being used in a vehicle and in what formulation (ratio of water mix), along with the awareness of when to replace the coolant is essential for any equipment owners and fleet managers. But truth be told, many truck and bus owners and drivers in India may have no idea of what goes on in their vehicle´s cooling system! Unlike engine oil and other lubricants, coolants hardly get maintenance attention it truly deserves.

Antifreeze cooland and Brake Fluid 2Maintenance

If that’s the case for coolants, then think about brake fluids that is also considered as a low-key affair in vehicle maintenance. Although not applicable in heavy-duty commercial vehicles, brake fluids are used notably in light commercial and passenger vehicles, and in cars, they are the norm. Present-day brake fluids are Glycol-ether based, therefore hygroscopic, meaning they absorb moisture from the air. This results in contamination of the fluid, especially in tropical climates like ours with high humidity. Further, they must have high boiling point and maintain constant viscosity across a range of extreme temperatures, while their anti-corrosion additives must stay intact for prescribed periods to protect vital components like wheel cylinders, master cylinders, calipers, and ABS control valves. Else, the leakages in fluid or pressure may occur, components may get damaged, resulting in brake failure. Although it is not common for a vehicle to suffer absolute hydraulic brake failure and related accidents are relatively rare, brake failure is still is notable factor for accidents that often goes unrealized.

Largest maker of Antifreeze coolant

“There is a dearth of awareness on regular coolant and brake fluid analysis among the users in their vehicles, as they fail to realize the essential link between these fluids and the vehicular life and safety” says Mr. S K Singh, Director of S-CCI India Pvt Ltd that is authorized licensee of `Golden Cruiser´ brand of antifreeze and brake fluids in India. We are trying to engender best maintenance practices and right perception of high-quality antifreeze coolants and brake fluids among the OEM dealers, independent workshops, and end users, so that incidences of overhead-induced engine failures and braking effeteness can be prevented, he adds.

S-CCI India is taking several initiatives in this regard. During the 4th UN Global Road Safety Week 2017 in May this year, the company ran a series of campaigns to support the use of high quality brake fluids and antifreeze in cars and commercial vehicles. S-CCI India is perhaps the largest manufacturer of automobile antifreeze coolant in India, also holding a substantial share in the country´s total production of high quality brake fluids. It is a joint venture with CCI Corporation of Japan that owns the `Golden Cruiser´ marque of engine antifreeze coolants, brake fluids and other specialty chemicals. The firm boasts two production units in India – Bhiwadi (Rajasthan) and Sitarganj (Uttarakhand), while export distribution networks are extended to Bangladesh and Nepal as well.

Antifreeze cooland and Brake Fluid Maintenance
Best maintenance practices and right perception of high-quality antifreeze coolants and brake fluid usage is the need of the hour.

In the OEM space, S-CCI Golden-Cruiser India is the supplier of antifreeze and brake fluids to various brands including Komatsu, MAN Trucks, Tata Motors, Force Motors, SML ISUZU, AMW, and TAFE in the CV segment among other passenger car makers. In the aftermarket, the company has over 150 distributors across the country, apart from tie-ups with various State Transport Undertakings (STUs) for antifreeze coolants. The company´s market share is pegged at over 70 percent collectively across all vehicle segments in India. “The OEM business contributes to over 80 percent of our revenue, as the dealer-oriented sales channels are vibrant in the recent times with more and more customers using authorized service stations” observes Mr. S K Singh. Acceptability of our products among automakers is tremendous, as we are the pioneers of antifreeze coolants in India and our constant technology and quality upgradation of ancillary products and consumables to the international levels is well recognized” he adds.

Also Read: Stretching A Litre Of Fuel – Car Mileage Tips

For instance, Golden Cruiser offers `Heavy Diesel´ anti-corrosion coolant recommended for trucks, buses, and off-road vehicles. The company claims it to be highly advanced, featuring slow-depleting organic acids that guarantee full anti-corrosion protection for longer periods even in harsh conditions. Quite recently, the company came up with `Extreme´ long life antifreeze coolant with unlimited mileage for over 3 year replacement period. “The technology is advancing towards longer service life and absolute protection from corrosion and cavitation as the engines are becoming more complex and sensitive” notes Mr. S K Singh, also adding that S-CCI India´s constant R&D and testing efforts goes hand-in-hand with the evolution of technology.

*An edited version of this article has been published in the November & December 2017 (combined) edition of MotorIndia Magazine.

Electric Buses: Local and Affordable Solutions using Lead-Acid Batteries?

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.

Electric Buses

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.

Also Read: Sustainable Mobility: A Global Vision In Indian Context

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.

Cost effective battery or hybrid-electric powertrains for buses can be locally devised to address our immediate, specific local needs. 

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.

Also Read: Electric Bus Race: Indian OEM Trio Moving Ahead

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!

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*An edited version of this article has been published in the November & December 2017 (combined) edition of MotorIndia Magazine.

BharatBenz 2523C 6×4 Construction Tipper: “Tip” o’ the hat!

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The German-patronised “Indian” truck maker is the favoured marque of Sri Ram Transport of Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu; says BharatBenz makes the correct choice of equipment for construction-oriented tipping operations.

After a retrograded phase in the past couple of years, the Indian medium- and heavy-duty tipper market is finally rejoicing a breath of fresh air. The demand for these trucks are not price-driven, but are largely dependent on the health of infrastructure and construction sectors. The latest bout of government-led investments on infrastructure and increasing per-day road construction targets have given a new lease of life to this segment. Renewed demand from the mining sector in some states have also helped the cause. The dampening impacts of BS-IV implementation has subdued, the demand has bounced back on account of higher mining, road construction and allied activities. The recent trend of market demand of pre-owned BS III trucks has bypassed the tipper segment, as tipper operations call for optimum uptime and reliability, which cannot be assured in used vehicles.

Also Read: BharatBenz 3143 And 4940TT: A Closer Look At Daimler’s Heavy-Duty Trucks

Further, dormant growth in sales owing to GST implementation is also mending up, those who postponed their purchases due to lack of clarity on taxation and accounting changes are back to the purchasing spree. On the whole, industry experts agree that the nation-wide demand for tipper is steadily soaring up to a rough figure of around 50,000 units annually. Moreover, in terms of product diversity, the tipper segment in India is no more duopolistic in nature. Newer brands like that of BharatBenz are fast catching-up, with almost every truck maker offering tippers especially in the 25-tonne capacity category. There is also a clear shift towards higher GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) and power output rating in this segment, as dumpers are preferred for carrying large volumes over shorter distances as against small trucks.

The `Superiority´ factor

Tamil Nadu is traditionally a tipper market, with numerous operators and fleets using a sizable number of tippers for both mining and road construction. The Tiruchirappalli region, in particular, is packed with sand mining and cement production-related activities, for which dumper trucks are lifelines. Sri Ram Transport is one of the leading fleet in this region catering to cements and sand transportation for road construction activities. Led by its proprietor Mr. B. Subburam who has tipper experience for over 20 years, the company now owns 10 BharatBenz 2523C 6×4 dump trucks, including 4 units of latest BS IV models. To achieve 100 percent BharatBenz-only tipper fleet, the company is also planning to acquire 25 more units of the same truck before the end of this financial year.

Why BharatBenz? Mr. Subburam answers, “I have owned over 400 dumpers of different brands in my two-decades of trucking business, Daimler trucks are unique and unparalleled in terms of rugged built, engine reliability, and cabin features. They are a notch above all other brands in the segment”. He explains that managing a fleet of heavy-duty application trucks like tippers isn´t an easy task, as they terribly call for constant maintenance and the downtime is usually high comparing to haulage trucks. Their running costs are usually a nightmare for any operator.

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Sri Ram Transport employs BharatBenz 2523C 6×4 tippers for cements and sand transportation for road construction activities.

“The feel-good factor in owning BharatBenz is that though the spare and service costs per instance is high, the long-run affordability of regular maintenance is advantageous. Longer and synchronized service intervals offer optimal uptime for the tippers, and the frequency of lubrication and oil replacements are comparatively less. The propensity of its components to fail is also far lower and exceeds the usual cycle”, he observes. Sri Ram Transport employs all its 2523C tippers in road construction activities, for delivering sand and cement from local stock yards. “At times, they shunt between the sites day and night in multiple shifts, crossing a variety of roads from broken quarry roads to national highways and city roads. The superior engineering and technology of Daimler has made them reliable workhorses that are up and running in any given point of time” adds Mr. Subburam.

Also Read: Tyre Management For Lower Costs of Trucking

The BS IV-compliant DE 175 engine of BharatBenz 2523C tippers offer almost 90 percent of maximum power and peak torque within engine speeds as low as 900 rpm, thereby ensuring enhanced pickup and gradeability in crawler gears. “Fuel efficiency is exemplary and sets new standards” observes Mr. Subburam, thanks to advanced engine technologies like unitized fuel injection pump system, high-boost turbo charger, SCR, constant throttle valve engine brake, etc. “The Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) is an added cost for BS IV trucks, but we are happy that the emissions are controlled and fuel-economy is improved” he added.

Responsive Service Network

Apart from managing Sri Ram Transport, Mr. Subburam is also the regional dealer for JK Tyres and runs a JK Tyre Truck Wheels workshop at Tiruchirappalli. Of course, his BharatBenz tipper fleet uses only JK Tyres and he is quite happy with their performance as well. For periodic service and technical assistance, he trusts the local BharatBenz dealer Jayaraj Trucking. “Being in the trucking industry for quite some time has taught us a lot about tipper maintenance, ascertaining technical problems, spare replacement cycle, etc., and people will find it extremely difficult to hoodwink us in this regard. Jayaraj Trucking is a professionally sound and responsive team, an essential value partner in our tipper operations” observes Mr. Subburam. Even when our trucks called for assistance from farther hinterlands, Jayaraj roadside and mobile assistance team did their best to put them back on running in no time, he added.

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BharatBenz offers a well-built, modern cabin with attractive dashboard, reclining driver seats, and provision for sleeper berth.

Asked on the popularity of BharatBenz tippers in the region, Jayaraj Trucking told us that they are the market leaders in terms of annual sales. “The 25-tonne capacity tipper segment is one of the fastest growing in the region, with the BharatBenz 2523C model taking up a majority of share in total sales. This model is specifically designed for 25-tonne tipper load limit legally permissible on city roads and flyovers. Fleets and contract operators in the road construction sector show great interest in this dumper model” notes Mr. Ajay Jayaraj, Director and CEO, Jayaraj Trucking. One-Stop and express service is the motto of DICV, and that puts us in the pedestal of tipper market, he adds.

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BharatBenz 2523C 6×4 Tippers – Image Gallery

*An edited version of this article has been published in the November & December 2017 (combined) edition of MotorIndia Magazine.

BMW engages Terberg Electric Trucks for its Logistics Operations

The 40-ton trucks, made by Dutch manufacturer Terberg, cuts CO2 emissions by around 82 tons annually for the company.

BMW Group, along with its logistics partners ARS Altmann AG and SCHERM Group, has put into service three battery-electric trucks to transport finished cars and components from and to its home plant at Munich. The company employed the first electric truck in 2015, shunting between the SCHERM logistics center and the BMW plant eight times a day at a speed of 40 kmph. Satisfied with the truck´s efficiency and reliability, two more tractors with covered semi-trailers are pressed into work.

Also Read: BMW iPerformance: Electrifying All Model Ranges By 2020

The electric truck on focus is a 65-tonne (GCW) Terberg YT202-EV terminal tractor. It is powered by a liquid-cooled, 3-phase synchronous motor of 614 V sourced from Siemens, generating a maximum power of 138 kW (188 hp) and a peak torque of 720 Nm. A fully automatic Allison 3000 Series transmission with a torque converter is in place to multiply the motor torque during start-up and acceleration. The battery pack with a capacity rating of 112/169 kWh is made up of Lithium ion magnesium phosphate (LFMP) cells. It takes about 3-4 hours to charge, to offer a driving range up to 160 kms. The truck can reach a maximum speed of 65 kmph. 

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The electric trucks saves about 82 tons of Co2 emissions annually.

Moreover, the transmission prevents power interruptions even with a smaller powertrain. Without this, a direct driveline with a larger and more powerful motors would have been necessary to haul the cargo. The Power Take-Off (PTO) feature of the Allison Transmission is used to drive the hydraulic pump, which saves an additional electric generator.

Also Read: E-FUSO Vision One: All-Electric Heavy-Duty Truck Concept

The e-trucks, as against similar diesel trucks, save about 82 tons of CO2 annually. In actual terms, since 2015, the first electric truck has completed over 3,000 trips and clocked over 17,000 km. That means more than 8,000 litres of diesel and 22 tonnes of carbon dioxide have been saved.

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Terberg YT202-EV Electric Truck – Image Gallery

Tesla Semi Truck Concept: 0-100 kmph in 5 Secs, 800 Km Range

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Tesla claims a 20 percent cut in running cost for every mile; production to begin from 2019.

Tesla, Inc.´s chairman and CEO Elon Musk is a man of big dreams. His vision for an all-electric ecosystem where automobiles, gadgets, and homes are run by clean energy is one such reverie. What is more, he enjoys a unique kind of clout (even cult) in the entire business world, where every industry heads, experts, and even governments pay keen attention whenever he put up a press meet! Together with the star status of Tesla in the automotive industry, he has revealed his yet another mammoth project to transform the trucking world – the battery-powered Tesla semi truck.

Why is he trying to convince (rather target) the trucking industry? He must have realised that making cars cleaner have a long way to go in his vision to cut global emissions, and trucks are perhaps the right way to make the endeavour effective. Heavy vehicles may account for a small share of vehicles on road, but may own up a huge burden of transportation-related green-house gas emissions, especially the NOx emissions that directly influence people´s health. Moreover, electrification of commercial vehicles is already acknowledged as the next big thing in the industry, and there is a huge potential for developing and commercializing reliable products and technology for the same. Musk must have done the math!

Also Read: E-FUSO Vision One: All-Electric Heavy-Duty Truck Concept

So what´s up the Tesla electric truck concept? Well, everything is frighteningly extraordinary! Although it is the regular battery-electric concept, the devil is in the detail. Take for instance the carbon fiber-made cab with all the jaunty character lines and stance. Tesla has made a great deal out of it, right from the drawing board to the way electronics are asked to play a prime role. The aerodynamic design promises greater drag efficiency than many of our cars, quite an essential trait for electric trucks. There is hardly any hood, the nose of the truck is way more vertical than we would have ever imagined. The “armor glass” windshield is explosion proof – yes, you read it right! On the whole, the exterior styling of the Tesla truck is not that of the truck, but of a high-speed bullet train!

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The cockpit view of the Tesla Semi Truck is nothing short to that of an airplane!

On the inside, the cab looks like an airplane´s cockpit with no cluttered controls and indicators. All one can find is a centre-positioned driving seat and steering wheel (McLaren F1´s way!), and two large 15-inch touchscreens on its either sides. The cab is almost 6 foot, 6 inches high, therefore offers full-standing room inside. While the suicide doors will offer easier entry into the cab. It does seem like truck drivers may feel like liberated while living inside the cab!

Also Read: Nikola One Hydrogen Fuel Cell Truck Generates 1,000 hp

The next biggie is the Enhanced AutoPilot suite, which is a semi-autonomous feature that can drive the truck by itself on the highways, be lane disciplined, and automatically brake in case of an emergency. A mix of radars and cameras are employed to assist this semi-autonomous driving technology. There are sensors on board the electric truck to sense any jackknifing and adjust power to the individual wheels to ensure stability.

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk at the premiere of Tesla Semi Truck Concept.

The battery pack is located beneath the cab, stretching from the front axle to the second pair of rear wheels. Tesla says it has ensured its reliability and safety by way of reinforcing, to prevent any explosion or fire. They power the two electric motors on each rear axles, borrowed from Tesla Model S. We peg that the truck must deliver around 1,032 hp of power, way higher than its diesel rivals. The company claims that the truck can haul about 36 tonnes, with a driving range of around 804 kms (500 miles). How great the acceleration can be, as against a similar diesel truck? Elon Musk revealed that the electric big rig can reach 0-100 kmph (60 mph) in just 5 seconds, we do hope that he was not kidding.

Also Read: Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck

The Tesla´s electric truck can use the company´s Supercharger network to get a range of as 640 kms (400 miles) with just 30 minutes of charging. The firm is tight-lipped on any other technical details and specs for now. What is quite amazing is the way Tesla is rethinking and redefining a heavy truck´s design and functionalities, by way of its electric powertrain and electronics. It blows away the mundane mind of trucking, puts in some alternative thoughts to ruminate. It is a new beginning, for sure!

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Tesla Semi Truck Concept – Image Gallery

Photos Credit: Tesla

Irizar i8: Coach of the Year 2018 – Busworld Europe

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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.

Also Read: MAN Lion´s Coach (Next-Generation) – 2017 Busworld Europe

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.

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Irizar i8 Coach packs in dynamic and refined styling, matching its mammoth size

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.

Also Read: Volvo 9900 and 9700 ‘Kortrijk Edition’ Coaches – 2017 Busworld Europe

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.

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Irizar i8 is the flagship variant of the “i” range of luxury liners

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.

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Irizar i8 – Image Gallery

Alstom Aptis Electric Urban Mobility – 2017 Busworld Europe

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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.

Also Read: BYD Midibus Battery Electric 8.7m – 2017 Busworld Europe

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?

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Alstom Aptis occupies 25 percent less surface area in curves, thanks to fully-steerable wheels on both the ends.

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.

Also Read: Sustainable Mobility: A Global Vision In Indian Context

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.

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Alstom Aptis: Driver console and Dashboard

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.

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Alstom Aptis – Image Gallery

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter City 45 Minibus – 2017 Busworld Europe

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter City 45

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.

Also Read: BYD Midibus Battery Electric 8.7m – 2017 Busworld Europe

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.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter City 45
With a slim width of 1.99 metres, the overall length of 7.36 metres of the Mercedes Sprinter City 45 isn´t a bane, especially while maneuvering through narrow lanes and 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.

Also Read: Mercedes-Benz Citaro Hybrid with Supercapacitors – 2017 Busworld Europe

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.

Next, would you like to read more on 2017 Busworld Europe, or Mercedes-Benz CVs?

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter City 45 – Image Gallery

Photos Credit: Daimler Buses

MAN Lion´s Coach (Next-Generation) – 2017 Busworld Europe

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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.

Also Read: Volvo 9900 and 9700 ‘Kortrijk Edition’ Coaches – 2017 Busworld Europe

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.

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MAN Lion´s Coach range offers various driver assistance and safety technologies available including Adaptive Cruise Control, and Lane and Attention Guard systems

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.

Also Read: Mercedes-Benz Tourismo RHD High Deck – 2017 Busworld Europe

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.

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MAN Lion´s Coach will be available in 4 avatars – 12.1 m, 13 m, 13.3 m, and 13.9 metre lengths, in either two or three axles configurations

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.

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MAN Lion´s Coach (Next-Generation) – Image Gallery

Photos Credit: MAN Truck and Bus


Volvo 9900 and 9700 ‘Kortrijk Edition’ Coaches – 2017 Busworld Europe


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.

Also Read: Mercedes-Benz Tourismo RHD High Deck – 2017 Busworld 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.

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Volvo Safety: Both 9900 and 9700 coaches boast protective structure and class-leading active systems for driver assistance and passive safety

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.

Also Read: New Volvo 9400 B8R, B11R: 10 Things You Should Know

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.

Next, would you like to read more on 2017 Busworld Europe, or Volvo Trucks and Buses?

Volvo 9900 – Image Gallery

Volvo 9700 – Image Gallery

Photo Credits: Volvo Buses