It took a while for the world to discover the Volvo Hybrid Technology. With the most recent VDV award the new hybrid technology has now attracted five awards, that I know about. Two from Germany, one each from Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom. When I was notified of the deadline for applications in spring I was travelling and had little time to prepare the documentation. Fortunately, the hybrid project had most of the documentation already prepared. Longtime readers may recall the Hybrid Project celebration with the 3 meter long hybrid bus cake visited by former Volvo Group CEO Leif Johansson and present Volvo Group CEO Olof Persson. In the photo you will find the project team behind the hybrid success.
We are also very proud and honored to have received the EBUS award. The EBUS award is sanctioned by the Bundesminister for Transports Peter Ramsauer. State Secretary Rainer Bomba honoured the award ceremony with presenting the awards.
When looking back Volvo has been struggling with realising different hybrid technologies over the years. The award winning technology is based on a parallel design. The pioneering work was done in the mid 1990′s. In 2002 we presented the first heavy duty version of the ISAM concept, with super cap energy storage. And, in December 2005 one bus and one truck was presented, now with battery technology. In spring 2006 the industrialisation project started and in April 2010 we delivered the first hybrids in serial production.
Numerous of benchmarking studies, montecarlo simulations and total cost of ownership studies have guided us. The ISAM technology, with an integrated electrical machine in a parallel position secures that the hybrid always has lower fuel consumption than the diesel and that it is always more reliable than the diesel. From early on, those were two of the design criteria that we were not allowed to compromise. By avoiding a sensitive serial design where the performance of one component needs to rely on a chain of all other components we could secure even higher availability than diesel buses. We were also determined to make a design that was not sensitive to the customers’ driving cycles. We said, “we cannot create a hybrid bus where we need to explain to the operators that they are using it in the wrong cycle“. The serial hybrid was thus not a possible choice, even if the packaging would have been possible to make with less efforts and development cost.
The success is thus not a coincidence. We have worked hard for more than a decade to secure the technology and to get to the attractive cost level we have achieved today. I say that 2012 will be the year written in history books of when the hybrid bus technology became the preferred choice.