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Vantage Power | Reinventing an icon

Rod Sarich

Business Development Manager - Distribution

Any self-respecting city prizes its landmarks. New York its Lady Liberty, Paris its Eiffel Tower and London its iconic red double-decker buses. Few people would have ever thought of pensioning them off, yet for environmental reasons the City of London was bold enough to withdraw their iconic old fleet of ‘Routemasters’ from service on 9 December 2005. Today just two of the original vehicles offer nostalgic services between Kensington High Street and Trafalgar Square.

Between nostalgia and environment protection

Styled in the image of the original Routemaster, a contemporary “New Bus for London” was introduced in the city in February of 2012 – featuring new modern curves, what remained was the true-to-style open platform at the rear enabling travellers to get on or off at any location – the so called ‘hop-on, hop-off’. However, in line with the goals of the city, to boost London’s green image and to noticeably reduce emissions, the most significant feature of the new buses was the introduction of a diesel hybrid engine.

Though well received and now comprising ten percent of London’s fleet, the hybrid double-deckers proved too costly an investment to replace the remainder of diesel buses still in operation. The city required a different solution … enter Vantage Power’s B320 Hybrid Retrofit system for heavy-duty vehicles.

From the Pan-American Highway to London's streets

Prior to forming Vantage Power in 2011, Alex Schey and Toby Schulz set a world first by driving the longest road in the world - the Pan-American Highway – in an electric Supercar they built in 2009/10. Inspired by their experience, the pair saw an opportunity to use their extensive knowledge in the world of electric & hybrid vehicles to tackle the challenges facing the future of diesel power.

Subsequently, Vantage Power’s retrofit systems aim at fuel savings of up to 40 percent by way of state-of-the-art lithium ion battery packs and advanced control system technologies.

The system’s powertrain uses a KTR BoWex 80 HE mounted between the combustion engine and electric generator. The flange coupling is designed to produce 136 kW engine output and a torque of up to 700 Nm. Its task is to dampen non-uniform circulation arising from the engine and to transmit the torque efficiently. The retrofit system generates power for the electric drive and conforms with Euro V and VI standards, produces less noise and vibration while promising a purely electric cruising range of four kilometres.

Two becomes three – for optimal braking force conversion into energy

But the inventors haven’t stopped here: Vantage Power is pushing forward the frontiers of diesel-hybrid evolution. Besides previous retrofit options, they also offer complete OEM solutions. In August 2018 the company delivered its first turnkey hybrid triple-axle double-decker – the Enterprise 2HD – to ‘Transport for London’ – the capital’s local government body responsible for metropolitan transport. This is an absolutely new vehicle class in the British market that simultaneously sets new standards in emissions, fuel consumption and costs. The bus is already commissioned on route 12 and offers an unprecedented level of passenger comfort for a total of 130 passengers – an increase of 52 percent in passenger capacity compared to 85 in the classical double-decker.

We want to keep size and weight and everything else to a minimum so we can maximise carrying capacity. The TA1 bus carries 130 people, it's the largest capacity vehicle in London.

The Enterprise 2HD has an auxiliary third axle, 45 extra passenger seats and a hybrid engine. To top this, the bus which travels between Oxford Circus and Dulwich Library not only provides USB charging and is dog-owner friendly, but also makes use of the most fundamental laws of physics. The Enterprise 2HD uses the latest Vantage Power electrified and connected powertrain technology, including a Euro VI range extender paired with two compact high-performance lithium-ion battery packs delivering up to 29 kW. It also utilises fully electrified ancillaries and an electrically powered rear axle.

A thinking icon

The red transport icon uses AI to ‘think’ for itself. In addition to this, the VP Vision control and telemetry system enables real-time positional and performance tracking, while performing fault diagnosis and applying the necessary system preferences for keeping the vehicle safely and efficiently on the road. By learning routes, the bus is, for example, capable of recognising sloping stretches and accordingly switches into recuperation mode, hence benefitting from energy retrieval when braking.

Formula 1 uses this type of regenerative technology too. Though needless to say, the range and recuperation of the Enterprise 2HD cannot not compare to that of a super sports car. However, the VP’s buses certainly offer greater mobility than New York’s or Paris’ icons – the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower have not moved a single metre for centuries! And while the all-electric range of a city bus cannot compare with that of the founders’ inspiring Pan-American journey, the distance Vantage Power may push diesel-hybrid technology may prove to be greater still.