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Regular news: Issue 594 13 Apr 2012

Retro-fitting hybrids to accelerate take up rates

Vantage Power, an EV powertrain specialist based in London, has come up with a scheme for retrofitting hybrid power systems to buses to accelerate the take up of the new technology.

Vantage has teamed up with Ensign Bus Company, the UK’s largest bus dealer and an operator based out of Grays in Essex, to prototype a low cost, robust and fuel-efficient series hybrid powertrain. Among several unique features will be its flexible architecture, allowing it to be retrofitted into existing buses at low cost and minimum hassle, while still reducing fuel consumption by over 40%.

“What we need to do is lower the cost of the hybrid powertrain but, more importantly, decouple the link between hybrid technology, and new buses,” says Alex Schey, CEO of Vantage Power. “To really realise a low carbon future in our bus fleet we need to retrofit older buses with new hybrid technology; we need to teach old dogs some new tricks!”

The B320 Powertrain, as it’s known, will initially be focussed on double-decker buses in the UK’s main metropolitan areas; “If you look at the UK bus market,” says Schey, “it’s represented by over 100 different models; clearly not conducive to retrofitting! However, over 90% of the 5,500 double-decker buses forming our initial target market are represented by just four bus models. This is something we can work with, so expect some exciting innovations!”

Vantage hopes its pilot project will illustrate that the concept is commercially viable. It says it has received interest from investors in its roll-out.

Vantage power will be presenting details of their hybrid bus projects at the Electric Futures conference on April 27th.

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