Alternative Fuels

Group plugs hybrid technology for small buses

Posted on April 1, 2007

Following the launch of IC Corporation’s hybrid Type C school bus last year, a new group is pushing hybrid technology for smaller buses.

Clean transportation technology organization WestStart-CALSTART is facilitating a Hybrid Shuttle Bus Working Group to focus on the commercialization of hybrid drivetrains in shuttle-type buses — those 35 feet and under but primarily around 25 feet.

Although hybrid buses are well into the large transit bus market, the opportunities for manufacturers, suppliers and fleet operators of these smaller buses — Type A school buses, paratransit buses, commercial shuttle buses (airport, rental car, hotel and other circulator applications) — have not yet been fully tapped.

The Hybrid Shuttle Bus Working Group plans to lead this effort by coordinating the common chassis and performance needs of Class 3 to 6 commercial trucks and shuttle-type buses.

To accomplish this, the working group will attempt to:

1) define a common truck/bus chassis in these vehicle classes that will help lower manufacturing costs and speed hybridization in shuttle bus applications;

2) organize fleet operators interested in purchasing hybrid cab/chassis (cutaway shuttle-type buses);

3) issue a request for proposals for an initial purchase of buses; and

4) participate in a group purchase of hybrid shuttle-type buses from the winning bidder.

Hybrid vehicles have demonstrated reduction in fuel use of 20 to 50 percent in practical transit applications. Operational cost savings attributed to decreased brake wear and increased oil change intervals, along with increasing fuel prices, have benefited the business case for these vehicles.

The group is looking for participation from public and private operators of small school buses, commercial shuttle buses and paratransit buses that are motivated to get the industry moving by purchasing fully-functional, pre-production, factory-warranted vehicles. The group is a user-driven effort, so manufacturers and suppliers will not be able to attend meetings. However, the group will be keeping in contact with manufacturers and suppliers to obtain critical input and information, as the eventual goal is to purchase vehicles.

For further information, contact Susan Romeo at (626) 744-5686 or

Related Topics: hybrid bus

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