(Today it seems like all the news is about buses. I didn’t mean for it to turn out like that…but it sorta just happened. So enjoy! -Ed.)Founded back in 1930, Pininfarina is a world-reknowned car design firm and coachbuilder whose resume includes the Ferrari 599 GTB Foiorano, Honda HP-X concept car, and the ‘63 Chevy Corvair Super Spyder Coupe. Now the famed design house has produced a retro-fit system for aging buses that turns them into diesel-electric hybrids.
From Design House To Eco-Bus-Builder?
It is quite the departure for a company famed for designing and creating some of the most memorable European sports cars of the last half-century. To display their new system, Pininfarina converted a 17-year old Iveco bus to accept a 1.3 liter MultiJet diesel engine sourced from Fiat. This gas generator powers a lithium-ion battery pack, which drives two electric motors attached to the rear axle. Both the battery pack and control module are provided by FAAM.
The retro-fit kit is a good way of recycling old buses, many of which see two-plus decades of service on roads across the world. Pininfarina, which recently announced that it would be exiting the car design business, estimates that this retrofit kit will be 60% cheaper than buying a comparable hybrid bus.
Hybrid Conversion = Cost Savings?
I’m not sure how they arrived at that estimation, but in terms of resources and money spent, it is almost certainly better to hybridize older buses, than to go out and buy new ones. This is especially important for municipalities who find themselves with tighter budgets squeezed by high fuel costs.
Then again, converting a bus to a hybrid means lots of time off the road for the conversion, and it does nothing to improve the outdated features of the bus besides the engine. But it could be a good compromise, should Pininfarina decide to actually market the retrofit system as a kit. And I do hope they do, because I am tired of having my eardrums blown out every time a bus accelerates up the hill near my apartment.