On 11 October 2017, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) awarded the tender to procure 50 diesel hybrid buses to Volvo East Asia (Pte) Ltd, for SGD 28,491,400.00 (About 28.5 million Singapore Dollars).
The purchase of these buses are part of LTA’s efforts to build a more environmentally friendly public bus fleet. Apart from the 50 diesel hybrid buses, it intends to procure 60 electric buses to be launched on the roads by 2019. This will allow the LTA to expand its trial of such “green” vehicles, which while environmentally-friendly, are more costly and less suitable for the island’s tropical climate. Not only do vehicles operating here consume a lot of energy for air-conditioning, their batteries and hybrid systems work less efficiently in Singapore’s warm and humid environment.
Not only can commuters expect quieter and smoother rides, bus captains can also enjoy a more comfortable working environment. To prepare the bus workforce for this change, the LTA intends to work with industry partners to help upgrade and upskill bus professionals through the Singapore Bus Academy.
At around S$28.5 million for 50 units, the buses cost about S$570,000 per unit, which is around double the cost of an average single-deck bus.
Upon procurement of the Volvo Diesel Hybrid Buses, the Land Transport Authority will allocate the buses to the Bus Operators (SBS Transit, SMRT Buses, Tower Transit, Go-Ahead Singapore) to operate on selected bus services. Currently, a large majority of LTA’s bus assets are Euro V compliant Diesel buses.
The Land Transport Authority previously put up a tender for the Procurement of Diesel Hybrid Buses (DHB) on Tuesday, 30 May 2017 (Contract Ref. PT313). Shortlisted participants for the tender were:
- Singapore Technologies Kinetics Ltd. (Local dealer for MAN Buses)
- [Offer: S$36.5 million (S$730,000 per bus)]
- Volvo East Asia (Pte) Ltd.
- [Offer 1: S$24.5 million (S$490,000 per bus) – with MCV Body built in Egypt]
- [Offer 2: S$27.3 million (S$546,000 per bus) – with WrightbusBody built in UK]
The non-shortlisted participants were:
- Cycle & Carriage Industries Pte. Ltd. (Local dealer for Mercedes-Benz Buses)
- Scania Singapore Pte. Ltd.
- Zhongtong Bus Holding Co., Ltd
The tender closed on 24 July 2017 (4:00 PM) and was awarded on 11 October 2017.
Volvo Diesel Hybrid Bus Products:
Volvo currently produces the low-entry Volvo B5RLEH hybrid bus chassis, the basis for the Volvo B5RLE Hybrid bus trialled by SBS Transit between 2014 and 2016. The similar low-floor Volvo B5LH hybrid bus chassis is used overseas and has been adapted for both single-deck and double-deck buses.
In addition, Volvo’s other hybrid product is the Volvo 7900 Hybrid, offered as an integral low-floor city bus and adapted from the B5LH chassis. A tri-axle articulated variant, the Volvo 7900A Hybrid, is also offered.
Volvo Buses have been manufacturing hybrid buses since 2010. As of January 2017, the Sweedish manufacturer has delivered 3000 diesel hybrids, electric hybrids and full-electric buses to customers in 22 countries in Europe, South America, Asia and Australia.
The bus for Singapore:
Illustrations released by Volvo reveal that the bus is likely a low-entry Volvo B5RH hybrid bus chassis, owing to the raised seating area behind the exit door (as it appears in the illustration).
On the left diagram, overlaid on the electronic sign is “C123 UK Volvo”, in reference to Volvo Euro 6 Hybrid Chassis with the Wrightbus bodywork built in UK option. On the right diagram, the option of a Volvo Euro 6 Hybrid Chassis with MCV Body built in Egypt is presented.
However, a press release by Volvo on 18 October 2017, Volvo announced that it would be providing the Volvo 7900 Hybrid for Singapore, which is fitted with an integral bodywork unlike the designs offered in the illustrations. The actual design of the bus remains to be confirmed.
The 50 single-deck buses – model yet to be confirmed – will be powered by the Volvo Hybrid Driveline comprising of a 5.1-litre turbodiesel engine (likely the Euro VI-rated 240-hp Volvo D5K engine) as well as a 120-kilowatt Volvo I-SAM electric motor. The bus, to be designed for the Singapore market, is also confirmed to be wheelchair-accessible, with a passenger capacity of 83. These buses will be rolled out gradually for service by the second half of 2018.
Previous Hybrid Bus Trials
Four Diesel Hybrid Buses have trialled previously by Public Transport Operators SBS Transit and SMRT Buses. Between 2010 and 2012, SBS Transit trialled two Sunlong SLK6121UF14H buses (SBS8000Z and SBS8001X), while SMRT Buses trialled a Zhongtong LCK6121G HEV bus (SMB137A) in 2011. The trials were a failure and all three buses were sold to private operators Republic Express, dnata Singapore and Travel GSH respectively.
In May 2015, Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew revealed that the Sunlong diesel-hybrid bus trial was estimated to cost S$1.7 million. The figure, provided by ComfortDelGro Engineering, had partnered with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) for the trials, with LTA’s share amounting to about S$660,000.
The trials had indicated an improvement in fuel efficiency by about 25 per cent, while the results were less conclusive for emissions. Mr Lui added that fuel savings were also insufficient to offset the 140 percent higher cost compared to normal diesel-powered buses. Hence, the unsuccessful trial was a factor in influencing LTA’s decision to not adopt diesel-hybrid buses on a larger scale until 2017.
In 2015 and 2016, across two separate six-month trial periods, SBS Transit trialled a Volvo B5RLE Hybrid bus (SBS8002T) independent of Government funding, to test the performance of Volvo diesel hybrid buses in tropical climates like Singapore. The bus was returned to the manufacturer after the trial.
The Volvo B5RLE Hybrid trial in Singapore was initiated by Volvo Buses without Government funding, to test the performance of Volvo diesel hybrid buses in tropical climates like Singapore. One trial unit, SBS8002T, was trialled on various bus serviced during its 2-year stint in Singapore.
The bus was permitted to operate on Singapore’s roads under the Road Traffic Act. In the first trial phase (15 Sep 2014 to 14 Sep 2015), the bus operated on bus services 506, 185 and 143. The second trial phase (12 Feb 2016 to 28 Aug 2016) saw the bus being operated on bus services 268 & 13.
Previous Electric Bus Trials
As part of an LTA-initiated electric bus trial, Go-Ahead Singapore operated a BYD K9 (SG4001J) on the roads for a six-month period between November 2016 and May 2017, produced by Chinese manufacturer BYD.
- BYD K9
- Go-Ahead Singapore trials BYD Electric Bus
- Sunlong SLK6121UF14H
- Volvo B5RLE Hybrid
- Zhongtong LCK6121G HEV
- Diesel Hybrid Buses to be procured by LTA
External Links & References:
- LTA Awards Contract for 50 Diesel Hybrid Buses to Volvo East Asia (Pte) Ltd – LTA
- Breakthrough order of 50 Volvo Hybrid Buses to Singapore – Volvo Buses
- New Milestone for Volvo’s Hybrid Buses – 3000 units sold – Volvo Buses
- 50 Volvo hybrid buses to be rolled out – Straits Times
- Volvo Hybrid Driveline – Volvo (PDF)
- Volvo D5K engine – Volvo (PDF)
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