Volvo’s Newest Hybrid Electric Bus Includes Silent Engine and 75% Less Carbon Emissions

It’s no secret that energy efficiency is becoming one of the biggest concerns in the auto industry today. But even though industry experts have often noted that public transportation is significantly more environmentally friendly than driving individual cars, rarely do we see headlines discussing technological advancements that have made, and will continue to make, public transportation even more efficient than before — until now, that is.

Researchers at Volvo have just released plans for the what could be the most environmentally friendly bus developed thus far, and this prototype is definitely headline-worthy. The 7900 PHEV is Volvo’s newest plug-in hybrid creation, and if it works as well in real life as developers have promised, it will likely put the current stream of individual plug-in hybrid cars to shame.

The bus runs on a 600 volt lithium ion battery, and it can be fully recharged in under six minutes through a roof-mounted pantograph. It reportedly runs in “silent electric mode” about 70% of the time, spewing out 75% less carbon dioxide emissions and using up 60% less energy overall than normal diesel buses.

The 7900 PHEV is similar to Volvo’s 7900 Hybrid car, but it features a much more powerful electric motor that is combined with a 240 hp four-cylinder diesel engine. The bus’s battery is 19 kWh, and the normal 600 volts stored in the on-board battery is lowered to 24 volts for electric-powered features including electric steering, an air compressor for the brakes, and an air conditioning system.

Volvo introduced the 7900 PHEV at the International Auto Show for Commercial Vehicles in Hanover, Germany, held this past September. Delivery contracts with multiple cities across Europe have already been drafted and signed, and the buses will reportedly start making appearances by the end of 2014 and beginning of 2015.

Considering that there has been such growing interest in hybrid electric and bio-diesel vehicles lately, it should come as no surprise that the bus industry is beginning to benefit from environmentally friendly technology — although admittedly, it does come as a surprise to many people that a car manufacturer has taken such an interest in public transportation. Everyone from Volvo researchers to environmental advocates are hoping that the 7900 PHEV will be a success when it first rolls out, and if this is the case, Americans may not have to wait much longer to see these green buses in their cities, too.

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