Tempus Autogas - it is time
Hybrid technology has its undeniable advantages, but is complicated and costly, which means an investment made into a combustion-electric vehicle breaks even relatively late. However, if you replace diesel (typical of buses and all sorts of commercial vehicles in general) with LPG, you may find a hybrid much more economical. According to its creators, the Tempus Autogas bus saves as much as 40% of the costs generated by a standard, non-hybrid counterpart. Therefore, the Spanish bus, built cooperatively by a maker of such vehicles and an autogas producer and distributor, is not just a pie-in-the-sky image enhancer for a fleet of otherwise not so eco-friendly diesel-powered city buses, but a real-life means of preventing tickets to become more expensive.
As for the Tempus' greenness, it emits smaller amounts of carbon dioxide, less nitrogen oxides and virtually no particulate matter compared to conventional (diesel) buses. Being entirely Spanish-made, the Tempus Autogas can operate anywhere in the Iberian Peninsula, on fuel supplied directly by Repsol. Ultimately, the bus could also be used in any country with well established LPG refueling infrastructure, e. g. Turkey, Germany, Holland, Belgium or Poland.
And now for some technology. The powertrain has been built from components made by General Motors and Siemens and the entire system works different than those found on regular hybrid cars. The gas-powered engine does not transfer power directly to the wheels, but instead it generates electrical energy stored in the system's battery and used to power the electric engine. In a way, the Tempus is thus more of a range-extended electric vehicle than a hybrid in the classic sense. Since the ICE does not motivate the wheels, it can always operate under optimal load conditions, without wasting large amounts fuel during acceleration. The engine emits less harmful fumes and has remarkable „life expectancy”, because it never strains itself too much. The electric motor, by nature resistant to mechanical failures, does most of the job. How great is that?
The innovative bus has the advantage of being able to operate in traffic-restricted areas, for its driver has the option to switch the LPG electricity generator off and use power from the batteries only. Range in EV mode is limited to 60 km, but that should fully suffice since driving across the city centre is all the Tempus Autogas needs before it can use its combustion engine again. Activating it and using a full tank of autogas (busgas?) allows the vehicle to travel for 300 km without having to top up, which is decent, but probably more suitable for a small town rather than big city service. Still, 300 km is approximately the distance covered during a single driver's shift, so given fuel can be refilled during a driver switch (preferably on a dedicated autogas station), so the bus could probably be used around the clock.
Tempus Autogas is ready and willing to start service. Two length versions (9,6 and 11,6 m) are being finalised for market debut and all will depend on demand. Hopefully, bus fleet operators will be able to shed their habits and at least consider switching from diesel vehicles to LPG-powered hybrid ones. We are looking forward to seeing these in our streets!
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