Volvo introduces market’s first hybrid bus

Swedish bus maker Volvo has launched a new hybrid bus soon to be tested on the streets of Gothenburg and London.

The Volvo 7700 is the first commercial viable hybrid buses on the market, and combines a traditional diesel engine with an electric motor and control unit, which results in 30 percent lower fuel consumption, according to a statement from the company.

The bus also has a lithium-ion battery which is charged when the brakes are applied, to later provide power to the electric motor.

The hybrid components are also manufactured by Volvo, which leads to better performance, according to the Håkan Karlsson, president of Volvo Bus Corporation.

“A common approach earlier was that bus manufacturers purchased hybrid components externally and attempted to adapt them to their own bus, but this is difficult,” he said in a statement.

“Since we developed the components internally, we have been able to optimize the bus’s fuel consumption fully. At the same time we could ensure very high reliability.”

The company also hopes to employ the hybrid technology, known as I-SAM, in its trucks and construction equipment.

The system shuts of the bus’s diesel engine during stops, and then relies on the electronic motor to start up again.

“When the bus reaches 15-20 kilometres per hour, the diesel engine starts up automatically,” said Karlsson.

The buses are set to be field tested in the public transit systems of London and Gothenburg during the autumn.

Volvo expects the first buses to reach customers in 2009, with mass production starting in early 2010.


Sweden’s Volvo regains strength after pandemic puts brakes on earnings

Swedish truck maker Volvo Group was hit by a sharp drop in earnings due to the coronavirus pandemic, but business rebounded at the end of the year.

Sweden's Volvo regains strength after pandemic puts brakes on earnings
Volvo Group CEO Martin Lundstedt. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

In 2020, the group saw “dramatic fluctuations in demand” due to the Covid-19 pandemic, chief executive Martin Lundstedt said in a statement.

For 2021, Volvo raised its sales forecasts in its trucks division – its core business – in Europe, North America and Brazil.

However, it said it also expected “production disturbances and increased costs” due to a “strained” supply chain, noting a global shortage of semiconductors across industries.

The truck making sector is particularly sensitive to the global economic situation and is usually hard hit during crises.

In March, as the pandemic took hold around the world, Volvo suspended operations at most of its sites in 18 countries and halted production at Renault Trucks, which it owns, in Belgium and France.

Operations gradually resumed mid-year, but not enough to compensate for the drop in earnings.

With annual sales down 22 percent to 338 billion kronor (33.4 billion euros, $40 billion), the group posted a 46 percent plunge in net profit to 19.3 billion kronor (1.9 billion euros).

Operating margin fell from 11.5 to 8.1 percent.

However, the group did manage to cut costs by 20 percent.

“We have significantly improved our volume and cost flexibility, which were crucial factors behind our earnings resilience in 2020,” the group said.

Volvo's business regained strength in the second half of the year.

“Customer usage of trucks and machines increased when the Covid-19 restrictions were eased during the summer and this development continued during both the third and fourth quarters,” it said.

“Both the transport activity and the construction business are back at levels on par with the prior year in most markets.”

For the fourth quarter alone, the company reported a 38-percent rise in net profit from a year earlier.