Toronto Wants to Switch Back to Diesel Only ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: Toronto Wants to Switch Back to Diesel Only

Friday, October 24, 2008

Toronto Wants to Switch Back to Diesel Only

TTC in Toronto are going back to diesels. After trying the hybrid buses from Daimler, they've come to the conclusion the new hybrid buses are unreliable and too expensive to keep buying, although they will be buying over 100 more for next year because they have to under the contract they signed.

After a string of battery issues, leading to an 18 month survival time instead of the four to five years they were promised, TTC wants to buy 120 diesel buses for 2010. With only a 10% increase in fuel economy, instead of the 20-30% they expected, executives feel the hybrid bus technology just isn't worth the extra downtime.

Which is too bad, really. Daimler should have gotten this right. The batteries should have lasted longer than they did, and any issues in maintenance should have been addressed quickly. Daimler was covering the cost of the maintenance because the buses are still under warranty.  Also, I would bet a quick course on how to maximize the fuel economy in a hybrid would have really benefited the drivers (although they may have done that).

TTC estimates they will save $24 million by buying the 'clean diesel' buses instead of the hybrids, since the average cost of the hybrid bus was $200,000 more. But that's just in initial costs. The fuel savings at the low mpg numbers buses average can be huge over time. But at only 10% improvements, TTC wouldn't likely overcome the initial price differential.    The hybrid buses weren't being used in the most congested areas, where they would tend to shine since the battery pack can be recharged through regenerative braking and by shutting the gas engine off when stopped.  That sort of driving doesn't allow the hybrids to shine. 

The battery packs used in the buses were not the longer-lasting lithium-ion battery packs you would expect, but were lead-acid.  The hybrid buses due to be bought next year will have lithium-ion battery packs, which will likely solve the battery survival time issue, but TTC just doesn't want to deal with it anymore.

The hybrid buses were bought because of a federal incentive, which covered 1/3 of the price ($750,000) for the bus.  Since the extra cost for the buses is no longer going to be covered, it's really no wonder the TTC wants to switch back.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's a pity, I believe if this offer came 4-5 years later hybrid buses would be much better competitors. And I think the price was important, Toronto is not so "dirty" city and citizens are not willing to pay much more just for having some percents of fumes down. Maybe the next time. I believe the best future for hybrids lies in public transport.
Take care

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