Chrysler’s Hybrid Transit Buses, Powered by BAE Systems, Top Performance Study

December 03, 2006 by Jeff Shepard

BAE Systems announced that the Orion VII diesel-electric hybrid transit buses from DaimlerChrysler Commercial Buses achieved the best fuel economy and lowest non-warranty maintenance costs in a 12-month evaluation of hybrid, compressed natural gas (CNG), and diesel transit buses in New York City. BAE Systems provides the HybriDrive® propulsion system on the Orion VII hybrids, which were evaluated in the study.

According to the study, performed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the hybrid buses demonstrated an average improvement in fuel economy of 34% compared to standard diesel-powered buses. Compared to CNG buses, the hybrids demonstrated fuel economy improvements ranging from 60 to 120%. The model year 2004 hybrid buses' average total maintenance cost during the study was 5% lower than that of the 2004 CNG buses.

"This study validates a primary advantage of our hybrid system: greater fuel efficiency compared to alternative systems," said Hank McGlynn, Vice President of Vehicle Systems for BAE Systems. "And our series hybrid architecture has fewer moving parts than other systems, contributing to better reliability and lower maintenance costs."

"The fuel efficiency of the Orion VII hybrid buses equates to 20,000 gallons saved per bus during a typical 12-year lifetime," said Patrick Scully, Chief Commercial Officer for DaimlerChrysler Commercial Buses North America. "This is of tremendous environmental and operational benefit to transit agencies, enabling them to reduce operating, fuel, and maintenance costs."

Compared to standard diesel propulsion, buses equipped with the HybriDrive system also greatly reduce emissions: 90% less particulate matter, 40% less NOx, and 30% fewer greenhouses gases. The NREL report also said bus drivers like the increased power output of the hybrid buses, whose electric drive motor offers superior torque to help with acceleration and hill-climbing. The NREL study examined the operation, maintenance, performance, emissions, cost, and safety of urban transit buses operating in normal revenue service in New York, where usage and duty cycle are extremely demanding. The city operates a fleet of more than 4,000 transit buses including diesel, natural gas, and hybrid electric varieties. By the end of 2006, New York will have more than 450 Orion VII hybrids in its fleet.