Volvo launches BZL Electric; UK demonstration to start soon

Volvo BZL Electric double decker for Metroline

Volvo has launched its BZL Electric bus platform. The battery-electric chassis will be sold in both single- and double-deck format and it has been developed from “proven and successful technologies already implemented in Europe,” the manufacturer says.

MCV will act as Volvo’s lead bodybuilder partner for the BZL Electric range in the UK and Ireland, although that arrangement is not exclusive, adds Volvo Buses Sales Director Phil Owen.

An example of each product has already been constructed in right-hand drive form. Both are currently in Sweden, but they are expected to arrive in the UK in early November and enter demonstration service in early 2022, says Mr Owen. Metroline will trial the double-decker – which has already been in the UK – while the operator of the single-deck demonstrator has not yet been disclosed.

The platform utilises a 200kW motor that is coupled to a two-speed automated manual gearbox. Such an approach increases wheel torque at low speeds and evens out current peaks, which Volvo says will reduce energy consumption and sustain motor and battery health. On the single-decker either a single- or a dual-motor layout can be configured.

Each model offers onboard energy storage of up to 470kW/h using lithium-ion technology. A data sheet for the BZL Electric DD double-decker shows that each battery pack has 94kW/h of capacity, and that in addition to the five-pack 470kW/h figure, the model will be offered with four-pack storage to give a capacity of 376kW/h.

Both the single- and double-decker can be charged via either a CCS2 plug-in at a maximum of 150kW, or via Volvo’s pantograph based OppCharge system at a maximum of 300kW. Drive is taken via a ZF AV 133 axle and both BZL Electric buses come with a GVW of 19,500kg. The front axle is Volvo’s own.

In single-deck right-hand drive format, Volvo says that the BZL Electric will be offered first at 10.8 and 12m lengths. However, there is scope to go bigger or smaller. Mr Owen adds that the manufacturer is confident it can build the single-decker at lengths between 9m and 13m.

Metroline will run the demonstrator BZE DD across all its routes that are currently operated with battery-electric double-deckers, and on a wide range of routes that utilise diesel-electric hybrid or diesel vehicles. That will give the bus “a thorough grounding in service and will provide information on the various types of journeys in peak and off-peak hours,” says ComfortDelGro UK Engineering Director Ian Foster.

Part of the BZL Electric package is the Volvo Connect system. That includes Zone Management, which permits the bus’s maximum speed to be limited where the operator requires. The manufacturer suggests that such an approach will be useful when passing schools or within depots.

The BZL Electric platform has been developed to be over 90% recyclable, Volvo says. Its dealership here will hold a formal launch of the product to right-hand drive specification in November.