Often as wide and varied as Hyundai, nobody can suggest that Business Money is less than diverse in its coverage of motoring matters, writes Iain Robertson, and displaying that the Korean firm, better known for its motorcars, has a positive grasp on EV technology extends to its buses too.
The motorist has been an easy target for governments, when seeking ‘something to blame’ for city centre pollution levels. While a largely untouched subject matter, at some point in their various ministrations they may start to look at the pollution levels created by buildings, which can be immense by comparison with essential transport. Often called tenuously ‘sick building syndrome’, it is a blend of internal and external factors that can lead to reduced productivity and even increased sickness rates among employees.
While interior issues can be resolved with creative partitioning, the use of colour and more regular cleaning and maintenance of air conditioning systems, much like herds of cattle (also renowned for their gaseous outputs), the levels of CO2 and other pollutants remain very high and largely unmonitored by responsible authorities. Yet, it is transport that is forced to shoulder the blame for our cities’ increasing pollution issues, which means that our government is fined annually (and heavily) by the environmental division of the EU for failing to meet established standards, or targets.
Of course, trains, trucks, vans and buses of all denominations present their own unique environmental hurdles to be overcome. Transporting large numbers of people, usually commuters, in one category of transport does help to reduce carbon footprints but, if you have ever been stuck in a queue of very slow-moving commuter buses, or coachloads of tourists, then you will be aware of a need to close the car windows and put the ventilation system onto ‘recirc.’.
Government’s route to cleaning-up the air state is to promote the use of electric vehicles. While there are residual problems with adopting that course, not least in the production of electricity by environmentally insecure power stations, which can only be resolved by resorting to assuredly renewable resources, as the entire motor industry worldwide is now committed to an EV future, so are we, as the end-users, and the costs are significantly higher for the consumer (by upwards of 50 to 90% in most cases), over what we pay currently for our personal transport.
While much of the eco-focus tends to be on London (apart from the high concentration of people, it is where the bankers and politicians are), exhaust pollution is not just the preserve of the nation’s capital. Even smaller county towns, like Lincoln, suffer from poor air quality, which can be shockingly bad at certain times of the day. While cars and light commercials are being levied against, the uptake rate of both hybrids and EVs remains at an extraordinarily low, less-than-one-percent of the entire UK new vehicle registrations list, despite having been in existence for the past 19 years at least.
Hyundai, which happens to be one of the most progressive transport manufacturers in the world, has its corporate fingers in lots of differently sized problems and, as buses form a sizable percentage of its overall business, it is inevitable that sharing technology between its divisions is also a vital aspect of the company’s development portfolio. For what it is worth, Hyundai provides car consumers with a three-ways choice of its popular i30 hatchback model, known as Ioniq, which can be acquired in mildly altered hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric forms.
To develop the company’s first electric double-decker bus, Hyundai worked for 18 months on a project that provides seating for up to 70 passengers, with added lower deck accessibility for disabled and mobility impaired passengers. Its all-new bus features a 384kWh water-cooled high-efficiency polymer battery below the floor, with a maximum 186-miles range on a single charge, which is more than enough to serve a daily shift’s use. A full recharge can be completed in an outstanding 72 minutes.
The large electric double-decker bus is 12.99m long and 3.99m high. It runs on an independent suspension system in the first driven axle for a more comfortable ride, and a 240kW wheel motor axle combined with a motor in the second axle that minimises electricity losses. It can regenerate a small amount of electricity using brake energy recovery, which also lessens its reliance on physical applications of the brakes. A rear-wheel steering system optimises around-town steering agility.
The double-decker electric bus is an environmentally friendly vehicle designed to meet global eco-trends. It will not only improve the air quality ultimately, but also contribute greatly to easing ‘rush hour’ traffic congestion, by accommodating more passengers. It also incorporates a number of advanced safety features as standard fitments on the bus to ensure the maximum passenger safety, such as:
Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) that helps identify the driver's intended course and maintains control of the vehicle, even if the driver cannot.
Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) uses the bus’s front-facing camera to help detect an imminent collision and avoid impact, or minimise damage potential, by braking autonomously.
Lane Keeping Assist (LKA) helps to prevent accidental lane departure by sensors reading road markings (where they may be visible) but also linked to its on-board GPS (sat-nav) system.
While it is unlikely (although not impossible) that Transport for London will adopt the Hyundai bus, rather than its commitment to the latest red London alternatives, at least Hyundai can prove that it has an eye to the future with its all-electric full-size people-mover. There is no mention of prices but you can reckon easily on around £300,000 per unit, which would be sure to hike-up fares considerably too.