Alcoa And The Industry Taking Initiatives Towards Going Green On The Roads (SBS)
With the growing awareness of being environmentally responsible, there is a concerted effort by all levels of industry, from manufacturers to transport operators, to provide products and services that support the green movement.
Bus manufacturers, like Scania and Volvo are no exception. Their efforts to provide environmentally friendly buses cover all major manufacturing specifications, including their wheels!
The single–deck Euro V buses from Scania hold the distinction as Asia’s first Enhanced Environmentally Friendly Vehicles (EEV). They were selected to meet Singapore’s largest public transport operator, SBS Transit Ltd’s (a subsidiary of ComfortDelGro, one of the world’s largest land transport companies) stringent demands for safety, be environmentally friendly and most importantly, have the potential to minimise fuel consumption. SBS Transit is also investing in new Euro V double deck buses from Volvo.
The structure of the bus, made of high tensile aluminium alloy, improves fuel efficiency due to weight reduction. To further enhance environmental and fuel performance, lightweight forged aluminium wheels by Alcoa are frequently specified for public buses in Singapore and around the world.
The new buses from Scania and Volvo feature Alcoa Dura-Bright® wheels with XBR® Technology, which is not only lighter compared to steel wheels but also offers better heat dissipation for extended tyre and brake life. In addition, Dura-Bright® boasts a patented surface treatment that enables it to withstand the demanding rigours of thousands of kilometers and washes - and still maintain its showroom shine. It does not chip, corrode or discolour, and never needs polishing. It is also 100% recyclable. Besides faster, easier cleaning and maintenance, Dura-Bright® wheels possess the same legendary one-piece forged aluminium strength all Alcoa wheels are known for, ensuring a safe, comfortable ride for SBS Transit commuters.
Imagine a world running on battery powered vehicles that not only get you to your destination on time, but secures clean, unpolluted air for the generations to come. In China, this vision is progressively becoming a reality.
To date, high profile national events such as the 2011 Universiade, or 26th World University Games held in Shenzhen, and 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing have had either put on trial environmentally-friendly bus prototypes, or included stipulations for new energy vehicles to be utilised.
The 2011 Universiade deployed the world’s largest new energy vehicle fleet to involve 2,011 new energy city buses which were provided mostly by BYD and Wuzhoulong Motors to Shenzhen Bus Group, Shenzhen Eastern Bus Group and Shenzhen Western Bus Company. In total, the New Energy fleet included 1,350 hybrid regular buses, 20 hybrid double-deck buses, 253 pure electric buses, 26 pure electric minibuses, 300 pure electric taxies, 2 fuel cell buses and other 60 fuel cell vehicles. Among the new energy city buses, 273 of them were fitted with high-strength and low-weight Alcoa forged aluminium wheels. This not only ensured the safety of the vehicle, it also paved the way in the development of sustainable urban public transportation. The new energy vehicles continued serving as public transportation for Shenzhen City after the games.
In response to the call for a Green Olympic Games in Beijing, environmental-friendly buses made their debut in 2008. The bus prototypes were jointly developed by Alcoa and Zhengzhou Yutong Bus Company. Each bus was 1.5 tons lighter than a traditional bus and has energy-saving as well as eco-friendly attributes. They featured Alcoa’s high-strength, low-weight aluminium space frame technology as well as Alcoa Dura-Bright® forged aluminium wheels, Alcoa aluminium side, roof panels and Alcoa fasteners. 50 of these buses that were fitted with shiny Alcoa wheels proudly transported athletes throughout the Olympic village during the Olympic Games!
Alcoa has developed a new all-aluminium space frame and bus design for BYD that has reduced the weight of the new BYD Electric Bus body by 40 percent, or approximately 1.2 tons in total, versus steel options. The combined weight savings are expected to help improve overall range of the electric bus by at least 10%. The first two BYD Electric Bus prototypes were launched in November 2011 in Changsha City, Hunan Province, China.
The first MAN A22 buses in Singapore have rolled out on Alcoa wheels since October 2011. To date, all 200 units have been deployed for service.
MAN Truck & Bus sales partner, Singapore Technologies Kinetics (ST Kinetics), was awarded the new tender 2011/2012 by the bus division of Singapore transportation operator SMRT. Aluminium wheels are part of the new specification required by SMRT.
Alcoa forged aluminium wheels made history as the first aluminium wheels to be fitted onto buses in India at the 2nd Bus and Special Vehicle Expo (BSVE) 2011 held in Hyderabad, from March 9 to 12. They were fitted onto Volvo’s multi-axle bus with automatic transmission, the Volvo 9400 XL.
According to Volvo India, the concept of fitting aluminium (alloy) wheels onto the 9400 XL buses was first introduced in South Africa where it was very well received. The benefits of Alcoa aluminium wheels are evident when substantiated by a significant increase in vehicle fuel efficiency as well as riding comfort.
The forged aluminium wheels for tubeless tyres are half the weight of a normal steel wheel. In a multi-axle bus fitted with eight wheels, this means a weight reduction of 150 to 175 kg, giving better fuel efficiency and more payload capacity.
Alcoa Regional Sales Manager – India, Mr Janardhanan Iyer, said, “It’s a great feeling to see the first bus in India fitted with Alcoa forged aluminium wheels. We’ve been talking to customers in India, and the response has been quite good. Customers do understand the advantages of using our wheels in terms of better fuel efficiency, better tyre life and improved drive comfort. These Dura-Bright® wheels are five times stronger than steel wheels and are capable of maintaining their bright look, day after day, for years, together with minimal maintenance using soap & water. It is the ideal fit for Indian fleet operators who are looking not just for efficiencies but for better aesthetics to attract the typical Indian passenger.”
Increased Fuel Efficiency & Cost Savings With Alcoa (Kyonggi Bus)
Kyonggi Bus, Korea’s biggest bus company has been dedicated for the past 80 years to providing transport to millions of people all over Korea. Its 5,000-strong bus fleet ply the roads each day, providing city, intercity, express and tour bus services.
Back in 2003, Kyonggi bus proactively began its search for a solution to reduce fuel consumption. It was then that the company met Alcoa and was introduced to the practical benefits of using aluminium wheels over steel. Alcoa’s forged aluminium wheels ultimately became the answer they were looking for. When compared to its steel wheel counterpart, Alcoa aluminium wheels weighed over 30% lighter and provided a massive 84kg reduction in total weight per bus.According to their field test, they could obtain approximately 3% fuel savings just by switching to Alcoa wheels. In another comparative test, the company noticed a 10% increase in tyre life and a 16% increase for brakes.
Consequently, Kyonggi Bus made the revolutionary change to Alcoa forged aluminium wheels. Today, its entire fleet of Daewoo buses showcases Alcoa wheels and continues to benefit from the cost savings and unrivalled performance of the wheels with excellent results.
Mr Hur, Myung-Hoi, President/CEO, said, “Kyonggi Bus is proud to be associated with Alcoa forged aluminium wheels. We have been using them for 8 years now and have always experienced excellent results. We intend to spec in Alcoa aluminium wheels for every new bus in our fleet expansion plan.”
Mr Hur’s confidence in Alcoa wheels is evident in his recommendations when interviewed by the media or when speaking at a public forum. “I will not hesitate to recommend Alcoa aluminium wheels to any other company who is looking to boost their fuel efficiency. At Kyonggi Bus, we have seen the difference it has made to our fuel bottom line to know that for sure,” he said.
Jirisan Express Bus company operates a fleet of more than 40 Daewoo buses in Hamyang city in South Korea. The tour coaches take tourists from Seoul to the famed Jirisan mountain, which is the 2nd highest mountain and one of the most scenic in South Korea.
Mr. Yang Ki-Hwan, the CEO of Jirisan Express Bus believes that safety is of paramount importance as they are in the business of transporting human lives. There is no compromise on safely standards and only the best will do for their customers. That is why Jirisan Express Bus made the switch to Alcoa wheels for all their buses.
As the buses take on the mountainous roads daily, the heat build up around the tyres is significant and poses a potential hazard to the overall safety of the passengers in the form of tyre breakdowns. “It is my belief that the rapid heat dissipation capability of Alcoa aluminium wheels will reduce the chances of tyre failures. Any tyre failure on highways or on mountainous roads can be dangerous,” said Mr. Yang.
Besides the increased assurance of safety, Mr Yang was pleased to add that Jirisan Express Bus company also enjoyed significant savings on tyres & brakes due to the extended life span of these parts.
The entire fleet of Daewoo buses is now running on cooler Alcoa wheels and Mr. Yang is extremely satisfied with the performance of the wheels. With such deep confidence in Alcoa wheels, he is actively recommending them to several other fleets in the same industry, thus earning himself a reputation as Alcoa’s brand ambassador!
The bustling cities of Taiwan are well-serviced by efficient city buses that ply the highways daily. Among the bus companies, Chung Shing Bus Company and Tong Lian Bus (U-Bus) Company have come to recognise the importance of looking good on the roads with Alcoa aluminium wheels. Chung Shing Bus boasts a fleet size of 1,500 buses and has led the way by adopting Alcoa wheels in 2011. Tong Lian, who has about 1,200 buses did the same at the end of 2011.
Tested, Proven and Approved! (Jiangxi Changyun Co.)
Jiangxi Changyun Co. Ltd, is a multi-faceted company with businesses spanning several industries including transportation, construction, electronics and hospitality, among others. It is principally engaged in road passenger transportation and serves over 2.3 million passengers annually.
Its tourism arm operates a cosy fleet of 80 long haul tour buses and 10 units of standard buses from Neoplan (Jinhua); and has been in the business for over 15 years. Over the last few years saw all their buses progressively plying the intercity routes with Alcoa forged aluminium wheels. The unanimous decision to change over from steel to aluminium wheels were a result of conclusive internal performance tests conducted on both types of wheels.
In their ‘steel versus aluminium’ performance tests, results showed that mileage increased by at least a staggering 100,000km before tyre wear set in and a change over was required. After running a distance of 200,000km, tyre wear-off was only 4mm and still going strong. When completely fitted with Alcoa aluminium wheels, each bus weighed 175kg lighter compared to the former steel wheel configuration. The lighter overall weight reduced inertia and made way for a higher payload, while Alcoa wheel’s superior concentricity improved tyre rolling resistance. All these translated to an overall increase in fuel efficiency of up to 1.97L/100km, and an estimated 7.53% savings in fuel costs for Jiangxi ChangYun.
“The proven benefits of Alcoa aluminium wheels do not leave any doubt in our minds that it is the obvious answer to better fuel economy and longer tyre life for our buses. Besides these advantages, the ride is more stable and feels safer. Our buses certainly look better with the brightly polished-looking wheels which we maintain with only soap and water,” said Mr Xiong, Technical Manager of Jiangxi Changyun Co. Ltd.
Alcoa forged wheels has since been the standard specification for all new buses and highly recommended to emerging long haul bus companies managed by the group.
Panyu Tongda Transportation Co. Ltd, operates out of the prosperous province of Guangzhou in southern China. It provides a daily inter-city bus service that shuttles between a few key cities including Panyu to Dongguan, Shenzhen & Zhuhai. The fleet uses a mix of 60 locally assembled buses (Yutong, Xiamen King Long and Higer) and clock high annual mileages of 200,000km per year.
High operating costs are a key concern to Mr. Huang Dichong, Deputy General Manager. He has narrowed down two controllable factors that directly impact the company’s profitability - tyre & fuel costs. In the search for a viable solution to effectively reduce and manage costs, Alcoa representatives stepped in and presented to the management team, the proven benefits of Alcoa forged wheels. The wheels were put to the test on two Panyu Tongda Transportation buses and they performed as expected.
Results of the internal test showed that Alcoa wheels not only extended tyre life by 30% on the front axles but also solved the problem of irregular tyre wear. With longer lasting tyres, the company achieved significant savings on their overall tyre bill. Weighing significantly less and having higher concentricity; better tyre rolling resistance; and a higher payload compared to steel wheels, Alcoa’s lightweight aluminium wheels successfully contributed to fuel savings of up to 1.4 litres/100km. When used across the entire fleet, this translated to noteworthy savings amounting up to 168,000 litres of fuel per annum!
“Alcoa aluminium forged wheels is the solution to long term cost reduction at Panyu Tongda Transportation Company. We are wholly convinced of its cost reduction capabilities and are progressively replacing our existing fleet’s steel wheels with the more durable and lightweight aluminium wheels. Alcoa wheels are now a standard specification for all our new buses,” said Mr Huang.
When Dreams Become Reality: Pure Electric Buses (BYD)
The first electric buses that run on pure battery power, were for the first time, put into trial operation on the roads of Shenzhen, China in 2012. Using only electric energy, the BYD K9 are e-Buses which can achieve no pollution, no noise and real “zero” emission.
BYD Auto Co. Ltd, “BYD” which stands for ‘Build Your Dreams’, started off as a battery manufacturer and has since enlarged its core competency into the automotive industry and electric powered buses. This is in line with the government’s intention for renewable energy to make up 30 percent of transport fuels by 2020 (“Renewable Energy World Network Editors”, January 19, 2011).
“BYD saw Alcoa as a leader in the development of aluminium-structured buses, and so it was a partnership borne out of the merging of the strength of our aluminium structure, development expertise and BYD’s electric power-train expertise,” said Tom Summe, Vision Manager of Product Design, Alcoa Technical Centre.
The first phase was helping BYD to transition the passenger-carrier portion of the bus from a steel structure to an aluminium one. From that, Alcoa achieved about a 45 percent weight reduction. Further weight reductions were accomplished subsequently from the chassis and use of Alcoa forged aluminium wheels as a standard specification.
“The lighter the bus, the fewer batteries you need to reach your range target and vice-versa, alternatively, you can increase the range that you can carry your passengers,” said Russ Long, Chief Design Engineer for ground transportation, Alcoa Technical Centre.
Considered as a breakthrough in the field of electrified transportation, the pure-electric K9 e-Bus is definitely a major step in the right direction towards helping to realise China’s dreams in Renewal Transportation.