The Volvo B5RLE Hybrid uses the Integrated Starter Alternator Motor (I-SAM) parallel hybrid driveline, powered by a six-phase AC electric drive motor and the Volvo D5F215 diesel engine that is Euro V (EEV) compliant. It is fitted with Volvo AT2412D I-Shift 12-speed transmission. The 28kW REVO-E air-conditioning system was supplied by Spheros, and its flip-dot MobiDOT EDS from Mobitec with its controls fully integrated into Thoreb's ELSY vehicle computer.
The B5RLE Hybrid is the second diesel-hybrid bus model that entered revenue service with SBS Transit. The first hybrid model introduced by SBS Transit, the Sunlong SLK6121 Hybrid, was deemed a failure by LTA and resulted in no subsequent purchase. It served to be a powerful deterrent against the future of hybrid buses operating in Singapore - LTA provided no funding for this B5RLE Hybrid trial. The first exemption order under the Road Traffic Act (Chapter 276) allowed the B5RLE Hybrid to be operated by SBS Transit on a road trial lasting for one year (15 September 2014 to 14 September 2015), limited to routes 143, 143A, 174, 174e, 185, 334 and 506. In practice the trial period lasted 6 months; SBS8002T first entered service on 1 March 2015, serving Route 506 (Jurong East to Upper East Coast, Express via Toa Payoh). It was subsequently deployed on Route 185 (Soon Lee Depot to Buona Vista) and then Route 143 (Jurong East to Toa Payoh). The bus was withdrawn from service when the first exemption order expired. The second exemption order was granted in February 2016 for a period of six months until 28 August 2016. It permitted a much wider range of routes, most of them coming under Ang Mo Kio Depot (AMDEP).
As with its sister units currently undergoing trials in Perth and Adelaide, this demonstrator received the Volgren CR228L bodywork and is built to Australian specifications. Its length of 11.4m, along with its sister units, is shorter than the length of a standard rigid bus (12m) in Singapore. Ten years after the Mercedes-Benz OC500LE CNG one-day evaluation was concluded in Singapore, the B5RLE Hybrid is the second Volgren CR228L bus built to Australian specifications (Australian Design Rules) to be introduced on Singapore roads. As a few of these specifications do not fully comply with those set out in Singapore's Road Traffic Act (Chapter 276), an exemption order was required for the bus to operate legally in Singapore for an extended period.
Although the vehicle originally had a manual wheelchair ramp installed at the front door while it was on display in Sydney, it was later removed and is therefore non wheelchair accessible (non-WAB) for purposes of this trial. The same exclusion order prohibits it from carrying any passenger-in-wheelchair (PIW). To adapt to Singapore's operating environment, an audio-visual warning device was installed at the rear door of SBS8002T and signs unique to SBS Transit can be found throughout its interior.
At the end of the Singapore trial SBS8002T was returned to Melbourne, Victoria where it entered service with SBS Transit's sister operator, ComfortDelgro Cabcharge Melbourne (CDC Melbourne). Despite that, there was a happy ending for Volvo's B5RLE Hybrid trial in Singapore. In October 2017 Volvo won a contract to supply 50 Volvo 7900 Hybrid (7900H) buses for the Land Transport Authority at a cost of $30 million. In the meantime, new demonstrator units (bodied by Volgren Optimus or Bustech VSTH) were also supplied for trial to operators in New Zealand, Brisbane and Canberra, Australia.
In Europe and the United Kingdom where hybrid technology is more prevalent, the Volvo B5LH chassis or Volvo 7900 Hybrid (7900H) as an integral product is offered instead. The former is usually delivered as a double-decker bus, while the latter delivered either as a single-decker rigid or articulated bus. As of 2014, the Volvo 7900H comes with the Volvo D5K240 Euro 6 engine and Volvo AT2412E I-Shift as standard.
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