In a rapidly chang­ing world,

In a rapidly chang­ing world, all sec­tors of in­dus­try have be­come more aware of the im­pacts of how we op­er­ate and the last­ing ef­fects on the en­vi­ron­ment — en­ter the Car­bridge TORO fully elec­tric bus

ABC (Australia) - - CONTENTS - WORDS PAUL ALDRIDGE

all sec­tors of in­dus­try have be­come more aware of the im­pacts of how we op­er­ate and the last­ing ef­fects on the en­vi­ron­ment. We take the Car­bridge TORO fully elec­tric bus for a spin and come away im­pressed

The de­vel­op­ment and in­tro­duc­tion of elec­tric buses has the ca­pac­ity to re­duce the trans­porta­tion in­dus­try’s en­vi­ron­men­tal foot­print and rev­o­lu­tionise the ‘green’ foot­print of the ve­hi­cles we drive.

There have been few signicant changes in bus de­vel­op­ment over the past 20 years. Yes, emis­sions have been re­duced in diesel ve­hi­cles with the in­tro­duc­tion of the Euro rat­ing sys­tem. The Euro 6 diesel en­gines have re­duced emis­sion lev­els but are signicantly heav­ier and re­quire more com­plex com­po­nen­try to achieve th­ese lower lev­els.

To re­duce the emis­sions they pro­duce, the neg­a­tive side ef­fects in­clude dif cult ser­vic­ing for work­shops, more com­pli­cated sys­tems for the op­er­a­tor to nav­i­gate, and added ex­penses – op­er­a­tors are re­quired to add AdBlue to all ve­hi­cles to get the cor­rect emis­sion lev­els.

IN­DUS­TRY-CHANG­ING

I had the ex­pe­ri­ence of test driv­ing the Car­bridge TORO and speak­ing with the com­pany CEO Luke Todd.

Had I met Todd be­fore the test drive I may have been cyn­i­cal about his en­thu­si­asm and claims, but I ad­mit I was very im­pressed with the ex­pe­ri­ence of the test drive. He is, un­der­stand­ably, very pas­sion­ate about the com­pany’s achieve­ments.

“What Car­bridge has done,” he says, “is to com­pletely re-in­vent the bus, a rad­i­cal re-think of the bus man­u­fac­tur­ing process which, not that many years ago was viewed as a fu­tur­is­tic prod­uct, has now ar­rived with this ex­cit­ing tech­nol­ogy.

“This is an in­dus­try-chang­ing mo­ment. The trans­porta­tion in­dus­try needs to take note and em­brace the tech­nol­ogy and change the world for the bet­ter, be­cause it is about ul­ti­mately es­tab­lish­ing a more sus­tain­able fu­ture.

“We have just been the rst com­pany to em­brace the tech­nol­ogy and suc­ceed in pro­duc­ing a nan­cially vi­able elec­tric prod­uct.”

MAR­KET DISRUPTOR

The Car­bridge TORO rep­re­sents the fu­ture of bus tran­sit.

“It is not just an­other bus, it is an en­tire bus mar­ket disruptor,” Todd says. “We are the rst to get an elec­tric bus to mar­ket.

“There are other com­pa­nies try­ing but no one to date has suc­cess­fully de­liv­ered a qual­ity prod­uct to the Aus­tralian mar­ket.

“To use a box­ing anal­ogy, this bus is cur­rently the best pound-for-pound elec­tric bus avail­able world­wide.

There is no bus that runs fur­ther and is lighter with the level of tech­nol­ogy we have achieved in this ve­hi­cle.”

Todd says Car­bridge is the rst com­pany with op­er­a­tional elec­tric buses – oth­ers have had demos and trial ve­hi­cles, but Car­bridge has suc­cess­fully re­leased a vi­able elec­tric bus that is in daily op­er­a­tion.

“Other com­pa­nies have tried over the past 20 years to achieve what Car­bridge has ac­com­plished in the last three years,” Todd says.

THE BUILD PROCESS

Not all is ac­tu­ally new with the TORO. Car­bridge has taken the BYD chas­sis that has been in op­er­a­tion for nine years around the world with over 10,000 units in ser­vice glob­ally.

The com­pany has then worked in part­ner­ship with BYD and alu­minum body build­ing spe­cial­ist Gemi­lang to ap­ply a light­weight aero­space-qual­ity alu­minum body, which has been in use for more than 10 years, onto an ex­tremely strong elec­tri­cal BYD power train.

The com­bi­na­tion and de­vel­op­ment of th­ese two prod­ucts is a cul­mi­na­tion of so­lu­tions that have been tried, tested, and per­fected for al­most a decade each. Car­bridge com­bined the two to cre­ate the Toro.

I asked how the weight of the TORO com­pared to a sim­i­lar diesel bus. It is heav­ier, but this has been signicantly re­duced com­pared to a stan­dard build with a gal­vanised steel body.

This was achieved by work­ing with a team of BYD and Gemi­lang engi­neers to min­imise chas­sis weight while main­tain­ing the in­te­gral strength of the chas­sis. The weight of the TORO is signicantly

Main­te­nance costs are about 80 per cent less than a ... Euro 6 diesel

lighter than any other elec­tric buses cur­rently be­ing pro­duced.

“No elec­tric bus runs fur­ther, or is lighter than, the TORO,” Todd states.

“What we have been able to achieve is a ve­hi­cle that is much lighter than any other on the mar­ket, which is vi­tal for an elec­tric bus as the bat­ter­ies re­quired are very heavy.”

Car­bridge has spent a lot of time in the engi­neer­ing process to en­sure the lighter ve­hi­cle off­sets the weight of the roof-mounted bat­ter­ies, and that this weight is suc­cess­fully dis­persed.

On the test drive you wouldn’t have known there were heavy bat­ter­ies on the roof. The dis­tri­bu­tion al­le­vi­ated any top-heavy feel­ing when ma­neu­ver­ing cor­ners and round­abouts; the sta­bil­ity was very sur­pris­ing.

As for the congu­ra­tions avail­able: “We will mar­ket the low-oor city bus to come in one, two or three doors de­pend­ing on cus­tomer

re­quire­ments and bus us­age needs,” Todd says.

Car­bridge’s cur­rent elec­tric eet is us­ing a three-door congu­ra­tion as it al­lows a fast turn­around and suc­cess­ful han­dling of a high vol­ume of pas­sen­gers at the busy Syd­ney Air­port.

LOW COSTS

In com­par­ing diesel to elec­tric, the TORO is 80 per cent cheaper to run when it comes to fuel con­sump­tion. And, be­cause the elec­tric bus has had all of the com­po­nents that run a diesel bus elim­i­nated, main­te­nance costs are about 80 per cent less than a stan­dard Euro 6 diesel ve­hi­cle.

“Be­cause we have re­moved the heavy en­gine and all the op­er­at­ing parts that go with op­er­at­ing the en­gine, the main­te­nance has been signicantly sim­plied,” Todd says.

Main­te­nance in­volves a team of tech­ni­cians un­der­tak­ing di­ag­nos­tic checks of the bat­tery man­age­ment sys­tem and stan­dard ve­hi­cle safety checks – wheels, axles, tyres, etc. – the type of gen­eral pre­ven­ta­tive main­te­nance and safety re­quired on all buses.

You don’t change oils, uids or lters. All of that has gone.

“The marginally higher cap­i­tal in­vest­ment of the ve­hi­cle com­pared to the lower run­ning costs will be re­couped within a three-year pe­riod,“Todd says.

“Con­sid­er­ing the long life of our buses, this statis­tic makes an elec­tric bus pur­chase a very at­trac­tive one.

“The TORO is far less ex­pen­sive than other elec­tric buses that have been pro­posed but never come to af­ford­able fruition in re­cent years.”

When ask­ing what he thinks the mar­ket will be for the TORO, Todd says: “The mar­ket is for mass con­sump­tion and it’s suit­able for all ma­jor cities.

“Cur­rently there has been signicant in­ter­est from gov­ern­ment bod­ies and many op­er­a­tors. “Car­bridge is very ex­cited.” When queried, Todd is un­sure why large diesel bus com­pa­nies have opted to not yet de­velop – or re­lease to mar­ket – this tech­nol­ogy, but be­lieves it is due to the requirement of a ‘to­tal re­think’ of their busi­ness mod­els and the trans­porta­tion in­dus­try as it tra­di­tion­ally has op­er­ated. Large main­te­nance fa­cil­i­ties and the spare parts in­dus­try, as it cur­rently op­er­ates, would have to adapt.

The dra­matic changes this tech­nol­ogy could bring within the in­dus­try scares a lot of peo­ple.

Todd likens it to the changes that oc­curred within the cam­era in­dus­try when dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy was rst em­braced and the neg­a­tive im­pact it made to large well-known cam­era brands that made their prots from lm sales rather than the cam­era prod­uct it­self.

“We po­ten­tially are do­ing to the bus in­dus­try what dig­i­tal cam­eras did to the cam­era in­dus­try,” he says.

LONG HOURS

The Car­bridge TORO can achieve an amaz­ing 32-hour drive time in nor­mal route con­di­tions from a three-hour charge with a 600km ca­pac­ity on straight high­way driv­ing. With gures like that, it shows the TORO could be suc­cess­fully used for much more than just city routes.

Dur­ing the test drive, the ve­hi­cle is sur­pris­ingly recharg­ing while in op­er­a­tion. It uses the same sys­tem that for­mula one cars use – as you ac­cel­er­ate, the re­gen­er­a­tion sys­tem is re­mov­ing from the bat­ter­ies and, as you de­cel­er­ate, you put power back into the ve­hi­cle.

Es­sen­tially, by stop­ping and start­ing on a drive, you are both con­stantly tak­ing power from, and putting it back into, the sys­tem.

At present, the buses used at Syd­ney Air­port are charged about ev­ery three days.

They are run down to ap­prox­i­mately 25 per cent ca­pac­ity and then recharged.

POWER SOURCE

The en­tire en­gine and all heavy com­po­nen­try that you would see in a stan­dard diesel ve­hi­cle has been re­placed with two small high-tech in-hub mo­tor sys­tems that are fully en­closed in­side the rear wheels.

The mo­tor sys­tems re­quire very lit­tle main­te­nance and are pro­pri­etary tech­nol­ogy for Car­bridge.

“Es­sen­tially we have taken all the heavy and ex­cess com­po­nents away to cre­ate a light­weight, pow­er­ful ve­hi­cle,” Todd says.

“We have re­moved vir­tu­ally all of the mov­ing parts to achieve what a diesel bus is try­ing to achieve: lower emis­sions”

The elec­tric bus has more power than a stan­dard diesel en­gine, though the bus I drove has been speed reg­u­lated for route con­di­tions. Un­reg­u­lated, I am told, it has signicantly more power avail­able if used for dif­fer­ent driv­ing con gu­ra­tions.

TOUCHY BRAKES

The rst thing I no­ticed on the test drive was the touch­i­ness of the brak­ing sys­tem. I did com­ment that it was so good that it would take a bit of get­ting used to, but I wasn’t aware that I needed to use it dif­fer­ently.

Todd ex­plained the dif­fer­ent way the brak­ing sys­tem is used by driv­ers, and the im­pact it has on the smooth­ness of the drive.

Hav­ing never driven an elec­tric bus be­fore, I guess there are al­ways new things to learn!

Todd tells me Car­bridge has a train­ing pro­gram for driv­ers to learn how to suc­cess­fully op­er­ate the brak­ing sys­tem. You use the ac­cel­er­a­tor to brake, eas­ing on and off the ac­cel­er­a­tor to slow down.

The sys­tem gives a much smoother drive for pas­sen­gers.

The buses used at Syd­ney Air­port are charged about ev­ery three days

You don’t lift your foot on and off the pedal, just ease and ap­ply your foot on the pedal as re­quired. I had the op­por­tu­nity a few days later to ex­pe­ri­ence the smooth drive on the TORO from a pas­sen­ger’s per­spec­tive.

UL­TRA QUIET

An­other dis­tinct ad­van­tage of the elec­tric buses is the lack of ve­hi­cle noise pro­duced. This be­comes a huge benet in busy city ar­eas where there is a lot of noise.

Th­ese ve­hi­cles make no sound on the out­side what­so­ever, which con­trib­utes to “im­proved har­mony in cities”, Todd says.

An un­ex­pected is­sue of the com­plete quiet­ness of the ve­hi­cle for Car­bridge is the new noise-damp­en­ing tech­nolo­gies re­quired to over­come even the small­est noise: a squeak in a seat, move­ment noise in a seat mount­ing, and noise en­ter­ing the ve­hi­cle over wheel arches.

To en­sure a pos­i­tive pas­sen­ger ex­pe­ri­ence, the com­pany had to re­move ev­ery au­di­ble sound that would nor­mally be mufed by a stan­dard diesel ve­hi­cle.

Pas­sen­gers benet from the quiet ve­hi­cle and smoother ride due to lack of hard brak­ing re­quired, and, as the TORO is a zero tailpipe emis­sion ve­hi­cle, they also don’t ex­pe­ri­ence the fumes as­so­ci­ated with stan­dard diesel ve­hi­cles.

Driv­ing and learn­ing about the Car­bridge TORO was a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence to what I ex­pected. Most prod­ucts or goods that have a dened ‘green tag’ usu­ally come with the au­to­matic skep­ti­cism as to what are we giv­ing up or miss­ing out on to achieve th­ese en­vi­ron­men­tal ad­vances.

The TORO was a sur­prise to drive – it had un­ex­pect­edly great sta­bil­ity, an ex­treme quiet­ness of op­er­a­tion that was a plea­sure to drive in, and the ve­hi­cle’s power and ac­cel­er­a­tion was way more than I ever an­tic­i­pated. I was also im­pressed by the power off the mark.

Cur­rently, Car­bridge is engi­neer­ing and test­ing the de­vel­op­ment of an elec­tric coach, school bus and a mini-bus due to be re­leased to the mar­ket in 2018. This promises fur­ther ad­vances to come in an ex­cit­ing new mar­ket with the added benets and changes that will be ex­pe­ri­enced by op­er­a­tors, pas­sen­gers and the en­vi­ron­ment alike.

I could nd no neg­a­tives through­out the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and look for­ward to how this ground-break­ing tech­nol­ogy can change the fu­ture of the trans­port in­dus­try.

“This is a legacy mo­ment for the bus in­dus­try. It is not a case of who will adapt to this new tech­nol­ogy within the main­stream in­dus­try, it is a mat­ter of when,” Todd says.

Above and

Be­low: The slick in­te­rior; Plenty of room at the back and up front Op­po­site page: Ready and wait­ing

Clock­wise from top left: Cus­tom-built carpark; The charg­ing sta­tion; A vi­brant liv­ery; A recharge in process

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.