IC Corp, Enova developing nation’s first hybrid school bus

IC Corporation, North America's largest school bus manufacturer, is working with Enova Systems, Inc. to introduce the nation's first hybrid school bus. The two companies have developed a prototype school bus with a hybrid diesel-electric drivetrain that is currently undergoing testing.

Together, IC Corporation and Enova are delivering an integrated solution that allows the customer to attain an approximate 40 percent increase in fuel economy and also greatly reduce emissions," said Mike Staran, Enova's vice president of marketing.

The project features Enova's post-transmission 80 kW Hybrid Drive System and is currently being evaluated at IC Corporation's research and technology facility in Fort Wayne, Ind. The hybrid school bus will be delivered to a school bus customer in spring 2006.

"With fuel prices at all-time highs, new innovations in hybrid technology are needed to help customers keep their operating costs lower," said Michael Cancelliere, vice president and general manager of IC Corporation. "We feel that this technology could provide significantly improved fuel economy. In addition, even though current International diesel engines produce no visible smoke and low emissions, the hybrid program will reduce engine emissions even further."

The hybrid bus announcement is the continuation of research and development for new technology in a number of different vehicles. IC Corporation's parent company, International Truck and Engine, is working extensively on hybrid trucks for the utility industry.

The initial powertrain for the school bus project will couple an International VT365 V8 diesel engine with an 80 kW hybrid-electric powertrain, incorporating a transmission, batteries and permanent magnet motor. The system is based on a parallel architecture, allowing the system to utilize both diesel and electric power in a highly efficient manner.

The system recovers kinetic energy during braking, charging the batteries while the bus is slowing down. This provides additional power for acceleration, making the hybrid buses ideal because of the frequent starting and stopping of the bus.

"IC Corporation is committed to environmental leadership and delivering value to our customers," said Cancelliere. "We believe that diesel-electric hybrid technology can be made commercially viable for the school bus industry and this collaboration is the first step in making that a reality."

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