The next development step in the hybrid area is a chargeable hybrid, which can operate quietly for long distances and is completely exhaust-free, using only electricity. The technology has the potential to reduce fuel consumption by as much as 65% compared with current diesel-driven buses. A prototype was developed in 2011 and field tests will commence in Gothenburg in autumn 2012.
In China, there is major interest in alternative drivelines and fuels. Here, Volvo Buses and SAIC (Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation) have started a joint venture company for research, development and industrialization of buses with alternative drive systems, both refined electric vehicles and hybrids.
Within the framework of the EBSF research program (European Bus System of the Future), Volvo Buses has developed a demonstration vehicle with various solutions that may contribute to making public transportation more efficient and attractive for passengers, for example, by more rapid entering and alighting, shorter travel times and less crowding. Tests in traffic commenced in Gothenburg in December 2011.