Anders Svanbom, technical project leader at Scania.
“We’re future-proofing our bus fleet. That’s good for our customers and for society.”
08 OCTOBER 2023
The new propulsion unit at the core of the new battery-electric bus platform promises to be the beating, emission-free heart of our buses for many years to come.
In October, Scania will unveil its next generation battery-electric vehicle (BEV) bus platform at the Busworld trade fair in Brussels. It’s been a major project of many moving parts. One of the most significant of those is the updated electric propulsion unit (aka: electric powertrain).
That’s because, in layman’s terms, the propulsion unit is the beating heart of a vehicle which will provide a genuinely competitive and sustainable tool for our city bus, suburban and inter-city coach customers.
“This new propulsion unit is the next step in Scania’s journey towards sustainable transport solutions,” says Johan Karlström, project leader for the unit update.
Johan Karlström, project leader.
“We’ve had a battery-electric vehicle offering with a very similar propulsion unit before, but this is now part of the new next-generation BEV programme, so it comes with the whole package, with all the updates and improvements in every aspect compared with the previous BEV platform,” adds Anders Svanbom, technical project leader, whose responsibilities lie on the hardware side, including the unit’s physical gearbox housings and mechanical components.
Stronger safety and cybersecurity, better reliability
The propulsion unit has been three years in the making. It’s part of what Anders describes as a “next-level project with changed interfaces and new technologies at a complete vehicle level”. And, although it has the same power output as its predecessor, the propulsion unit is different in several other important respects.
“The project has given us much better opportunities to bring out stronger safety and cybersecurity concepts and a smaller but more reliable system,” says Karlotta Weijl, the electrical engineer with responsibility for the electronic control unit (ECU) which acts as the ‘brain’ of the overall propulsion unit.
Karlotta Weijl, electrical engineer.
Karlotta explains that the ECU ensures that the propulsion unit, and thus the buses it’s fitted to, will perform better than the previous battery-electric vehicle generation.
“The unit is smaller and more lightweight, and doesn’t need as much cooling, which further improves the energy efficiency. With a superior electrical design and improved supply chain, we’ve enabled better maintenance and functional upgrades, so prolonging the lifetime of the vehicle,” she says.
Johan Karlström adds that the new control unit enables better control of the propulsion unit and thus better control of the vehicle. “It definitely gives the bus driver better driveability,” he says.
Much of the propulsion unit’s development has been shared with both truck and bus, and some of the components are the same, which has helped in terms of some of the test validation. However, apart from the specifics of two different types of vehicles, one of the other big divergences is the market conditions that bus owners face.
Ready to compete in bus tenders
A lot of bus companies’ business comes from regional and local authorities, who continue to play a key role in the shift towards sustainable transport through their adoption of stricter emissions legislation. Many public tenders these days insist upon electric-powered bus transport as a pre-condition to being awarded a contract.
So, along with the new BEV platform’s better charging interfaces and enhanced battery performance, the propulsion unit is part of a solution that will be well suited to the demands of such tenders.
“Because it is an electric propulsion unit, the P160U obviously reduces carbon emissions to zero and that equips our customers for providing sustainable bus travel,” says Karlotta.
Serial production of the new BEV bus generation and its new beating heart will begin in 2024, and, as the team get into the final stages of such an extensive project, they can begin to look forward to seeing the fruits of their labours.
“This has been an exciting project to work on,” says Johan. “I always enjoy seeing the products being used on the roads, and I’m looking forward to seeing our bus customers using what we’ve done, and to seeing it compete in bus tenders.”
“We’re future-proofing our vehicle fleet,” adds Anders. “That’s good for our customers and for society, and an important milestone for Scania buses.”
Scania offers a complete range of city buses and coaches for public transport operators and coach companies. Our offer also includes solutions to help solve today’s urban mobility challenges.