Engineers at TU Delft in the Netherlands have unveiled a luxurious battery-powered vehicle at the World Exhibition of the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) in Dubai.
Former Dutch astronaut Wubbo Ockels headed up the development of the so-called Superbus, while the design of the vehicle was spearheaded by Antonia Terzi, Italian former chief aerodynamicist of the BMW-Williams Formula 1 team.
The Superbus — a cross-over between a bus and a limousine — is similar in length and width to a public bus and as high as a conventional SUV. It is 15m long and provides seating for 23 passengers. In order to improve access, it has eight doors per side.
The eco-friendly design has a thermoplastic reinforced fibreglass body and a carbon-fibre chassis, while the front and the rear sub-frames, including the suspension, are made from aluminium.
The vehicle is powered by a lithium-polymer battery pack that drives rear wheel motors with a 300kW combined power output. The battery pack can be exchanged rapidly from both sides of the vehicle through battery-exchange hatches.
Within city limits, the 23 passenger Superbus has a ground clearance of 40cm so it can be driven over speed bumps without problems. But as soon as the Superbus is on a motorway, it can be lowered to a ground clearance of 7cm, keeping the aerodynamic drag to a minimum while allowing the vehicle to travel as fast as 250km/h. On a single charge, the vehicle has a driving range of 210km.
The Superbus project is backed by the Dutch government, as well as 10 sponsors and 56 suppliers. The first road tests of the bus took place in Holland last September.