Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation Launches Hybrid-Electric Chassis for Commercial Bus Market

CHICAGO, Ill.—Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation (FCCC) today introduced at BusCon 2008 its innovative hybrid-electric commercial bus chassis featuring industry-leading wheel cut and durability to effectively tackle the challenges of mass transit.

Designed for fuel savings and reduced emissions, the MB-HEV prototype was engineered to address environmental and cost-savings priorities as identified by FCCC’s commercial bus customers. The MB-HEV, equipped with the Eaton® hybrid-electric system, boasts as much as a 40 percent reduction in fuel consumption.

“Freightliner Custom Chassis developed the prototype MB-HEV aiming to be the most fuel-efficient bus chassis on the market,” said Tony Sippel, FCCC product manager for commercial bus chassis. “We focused our engineering efforts on developing a commercial bus chassis that would contribute to a cleaner environment and decrease consumption of natural resources while significantly reducing the cost of operation for bus fleets.”

Seamless Operation
FCCC’s hybrid-electric chassis, which features a diesel engine coupled with an electric motor/generator and lithium-ion batteries, works in line with the engine and transmission enabling seamless operation incorporating electric and diesel power.

Lithium-ion batteries capture and store energy during the regenerative braking phase of the vehicle’s operation. The batteries are constantly charged through the operation of the diesel engine, eliminating the need to plug into an electrical source. Both the engine and the electric motor can provide power to the drivetrain. The sophisticated hybrid supervisory controller selects the most efficient mode of operation – either diesel or electric – depending upon current operating conditions and driver demand.

“FCCC, in partnership with Eaton, was first to bring hybrid-electric vehicles to the commercial market and has been producing them for a number of years,” said Jonathan Randall, director of sales and marketing for FCCC. “As part of Daimler Trucks North America, FCCC has a robust lineage and history of engineering alternative fuel chassis for the commercial vehicle industry. The MB-HEV is just the most recent chassis to embody the benefits of reliability, drivability and efficiency that customers have come to equate with the FCCC brand.”

Powered by the Cummins® ISB 6.7-liter engine with up to 300 hp and an Eaton® automatic transmission, the MB-HEV chassis features a maximum GVWR of 32,000 lbs.

Best-in-Class Wheel Cut
The MB-HEV also boasts a 55-degree wheel cut, an industry best, and a 10 percent improvement over previous FCCC models. Understanding that maneuverability is a primary challenge for commercial bus operators, engineers ensured the MB-HEV was designed to offer best-in-class ride and handling.

“Maneuverability is a challenge for bus transportation in metropolitan areas,” Sippel said. “Entering and exiting parking lots and driveways and turning corners in urban settings can be difficult when operating a commercial vehicle. With this in mind, we developed a chassis with a 55-degree wheel cut to more effectively maneuver through our nation’s metropolitan areas, saving time on the road and adding to driver comfort.”

Flat-Floor Driver Cockpit
Ideal for light- to medium-duty shuttle and big bus applications, the MB-HEV was built with the comfort and safety of its operators in mind. The flat-floor driver cockpit area – the first of its kind in the commercial bus industry – allows the bus operator to safely move from the cockpit to the passenger area without having to step over a “doghouse,” improving upon both safety and ease of use for the bus operator.

The flat-floor design also offers a benefit to bus body builders, allowing them to develop the body without concessions for the doghouse.

The MB-HEV will be available for order in the fourth quarter of 2009 with production expected to commence in the first quarter of 2010.

The purchase of the MB-HEV, which is EPA-certified in all 50 states, enables customers to be eligible for substantial federal tax credits. Please visit the Internal Revenue Service Web site at www.irs.gov for more information.

“The MB-HEV will be a durable and reliable choice for shuttle and big bus applications,” Randall said. “Customers can expect the MB-HEV to offer outstanding performance, reduced fuel consumption, and superb ride and handling, all without compromise to payload capacity.”

Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation manufactures premium chassis for the motor home, delivery, walk-in van, and school bus and shuttle bus markets. Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation is a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America LLC, a Daimler company.

On the Internet:
Visit the Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation Web site at www.freightlinerchassis.com for additional FCCC news and product information.

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