The first of a new generation of Double Deck bus – the Gemini 2 – that can be powered by both diesel and hybrid – electric drivelines has been unveiled by Wrightbus this week.
The Gemini 2 HEV on show at Euro Bus Expo is the first of an order of five hybrid-electric powered Double Deck buses which will enter service with Arriva in London this winter, with five of nine Gemini 2 orders from FirstGroup also destined for hybrid-powered operation in the capital.
The Wrightbus Gemini 2 has been developed as a modular concept, with the option of both Euro 5/EEV Diesel (DL) and Hybrid Electric (HEV) power, whilst at the same time being fully compliant with both TfL and provincial specifications.
Hybrid-powered buses are seen as an important way of further reducing emissions, which can add to pollution problems in densely populated cities such as London. With high oil prices now likely to be the norm, the potential fuel savings that can result from deployment of hybrid-powered vehicles means that the payback on the incremental capital cost is much quicker than was previously the case, making such vehicles a realistic economic proposition.
The Hybrid-Electric Version (HEV) of the new Gemini 2 has been developed following a long-term in-service evaluation with Arriva in London. The Series Hybrid Electric variant features Siemens ELFA® traction components, with energy provided by a Ford Puma 2.4 litre diesel engine. The Diesel (DL) version of the new Gemini 2 features a 6.7 litre Cummins engine, with both variants offering the choice of ZF or Voith automatic transmission driving through a Spicer rear axle.
The new vehicle has been developed by the product development team in Ballymena lead by Product Development Director, Damian McGarry. A key objective was to develop a weight optimised vehicle which delivered excellent fuel economy.
For example, Wrightbus has also used its growing expertise and capability in LRTM (Light Resin Transfer Moulding) composite materials to extend the use of automotive quality panels on the new vehicle, enhancing fit and finish, as well as further reducing vehicle weight. Emission standards have been achieved without the need to fit a particulate trap, further reducing vehicle weight.
The resulting unladen weight of the new Gemini 2 is excellent, at 12,271kg and 12,075kg respectively for the HEV and DL versions to TfL specification, with the provincial specification DL version having a tare weight of 11,200kg (all weights stated are specification dependent).
Another major objective for the new bus has been to maximise seated passenger capacity, not just in the low floor area (where the new vehicle has ten seats) but throughout the entire vehicle. With overall capacities of 87 (for HEV) and 91 (for DL) passengers in a two door bus to the latest London specification and 96 for the Gemini 2 DL to Provincial specification, the new Wrightbus Double Decker offers a class-leading proposition to bus operators in the Capital and other large cities.
Integral to the development of a modular driveline approach has been a new flat radiator design which sits 1.5m above ground, providing both improved engine cooling and quieter operation for passengers and other road users alike. The Wrightbus product development team has worked closely with chassis partner VDL on this and other aspects of chassis weight and layout optimisation.
A totally new drivers’ area has been created to deliver an efficient and comfortable place of work for the driver, featuring a Wrightbus-designed instrumentation panel with touch screen technology. An integrated telematics package is also the result of extensive development work by the Ballymena team.
With vehicle uptime of critical importance to bus operators, the new Wrightbus Gemini 2 will be fully supported by Customcare, a division of the Wright Group. Customcare is already highly experienced in supporting hybrid powered Wrightbus products in service, and have in place a mobile team of technicians who are experts in the specific requirements of hybrid-electric vehicles.
Speaking at the show, Group Managing Director Mark Nodder said “Double Decker buses are the mainstay of city bus operations in London as well as the large provincial cities, and have become a very important part of our company’s business. Building on our experience of being first to make hybrid-electric technology a reality in city bus operations in the UK, we have been convinced of the need to offer a new vehicle which gives our customers the choice of either Euro 5/EEV diesel or hybrid electric drivelines, without changing the layout and specification of the vehicle.”