The first diesel buses converted to hybrid power will run on the streets of London early next year.
London is introducing an ultra low emission zone in 2020, so diesel buses will have to be replaced or converted to hybrid or all electric power.
While the price of fuel is rising, government subsidies are being cut. Vantage Power estimates that switching to hybrid power saves operators around £20,000 per bus per year and said retrofitting can convert four old buses for the price of one new one.
New hybrid electric buses cost more than regular diesel buses. Some of London’s hybrid Routemasters, which cost around £350,000 each, have suffered from prematurely failing batteries that will have to be replaced by batteries from another supplier under warranty.
Vantage strips the diesel bus’s engine bay back to the chassis and replaces the contents with its B320 system of a smaller diesel engine, drive motor, generator, battery, electronics and software to manage it. The engine is decoupled mechanically from the wheels.