ALTAS DEVELOPS HYBRID MINIBUS
Altas, the Lithuanian minicoach convertor, is completing a simple, easily-installed Intelligent Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (iPHEV) system, which can be installed in the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and can provide up to 45km of emission-free running.
The first Sprinter to receive the equipment, developed in partnership with Elinta Motors, will be a low-floor example and it is currently in the final stages of concept validation. The vehicle is expected to debut at Busworld Kortrijk. After that, the vehicle will be demonstrated to several operators in Scandinavia and the Netherlands.
Three modes are possible with iPHEV thanks to its configuration: diesel- or electric-only, and a pairing of the two for maximum power delivery.
Modifications carried out by Altas are conversion of the steering to electric, and the braking system is altered to remove hydraulics from the vehicle entirely.
As the iPHEV’s motor also regenerates electricity during braking, it can be classified as a retarder, allowing the Sprinter’s gross vehicle weight to be increased to 5,500kg. Braking tests have been passed at this GVW.
The electric motor weighs 91kg and can deliver 900Nm of torque, which offers potentially high performance when used in parallel with the diesel engine, although Altas and Elinta are currently developing a more powerful motor.
The battery pack comes with three years’ warranty and is expected to last for over 12 years, which in a minibus such as a Sprinter is likely to exceed the vehicle’s useful life.