Electric cars may be sexier than electric buses, but carbon emissions from dirty bus engines are significantly larger than emissions from even SUVs. That’s why Adura Systems’ new modular hybrid powertrain is so important. The powertrain, commissioned by the Chinese government, is made up of modules holding lithium-ion batteries or ultracapacitors, a gas generator that recharges batteries while driving (similar to the Chevy Volt’s generator), and software that balance electrical loads to maximize bus performance. Buses that use the powertrain can get 50 MPG–a drastic increase over the three to five miles per gallon that most buses get.
One of the powertrain’s most impressive features its its modularity. Adura’s device can use any number of battery packs, battery chemistries, and even fuel cells. The $155,000 powertrain is a major investment–most gas drive powertrains cost $75,000–but Adura CEO Marv Bush claims that the system can save municipalities $800,000 over an eight year period.
Adura’s powertrain will initially be released in China, but the U.S. could also get hybrid buses in the near future. The U.S. Department of Energy announced a deal last week with Navistar to develop hybrid electric school buses. China could use the technology first, though. 175,000 new buses are unleashed in China each year, compared to only 5,000 in the U.S.