According to Wired, what is being hailed as “the latest, greatest masterpiece of British engineering” — the new hybrid double-decker bus — was unveiled in London late last week to begin carrying passengers in February 2012.
But the Routemaster-inspired prototype, just three days after being introduced, ran out of juice on the highway. The London Evening Standard has more:
A Transport for London spokesman said a battery warning light came on and the driver pulled onto the hard shoulder to recharge. But on doing that another warning light illuminated and, as a precautionary measure, TfL decided to investigate further. A tow truck arrived but was not needed.
TfL said the vehicle’s hybrid battery was configured for London roads and not for long stretches on motorways. He said the battery recharged when the bus stopped and started in city traffic.
Mike Weston, London Buses Operations Director, said:
“The new bus for London’s engine is configured for driving in the Capital and its engine uses the latest hybrid technology, which means it emits half the CO2 and NOx and delivers twice the fuel economy of a standard double deck bus.
“The bus is designed for stop-start driving, which enables the battery to be recharged automatically.
“However when the bus undertakes long, non-stopping motorway journeys, such as its journey to Bedfordshire this morning, it can lose charge and the driver is briefed to pull to the side of the road to allow the battery to recharge.
“After the battery had re-charged the driver was unable to re-start the engine. It was later established that the bus had run out of diesel.
Wired goes on to state that the bus is designed be twice as fuel efficient as regular diesel buses and emits 640 grams of CO2 per kilometer. The bus, which is the first in more than 50 years designed specifically for the capital’s streets, is made of lightweight materials and has three entrances to make loading and unloading efficient.
At the unveiling in Trafalgar Square, Wired reported London Mayor Boris Johnson as saying “It is the latest, greatest masterpiece of British engineering and design, and I am certain it will become a much-loved and iconic vehicle akin to the legendary Routemaster from which it draws so much inspiration.”
According to Wired, Wrightbus in Northern Ireland began designing the new bus in January 2010 and eight prototypes will be on the streets starting Feb. 20, 2012, along Route 38. If the prototype phase goes well, more routes could see these hybrid buses in the future.
Check out this time-lapsed video of the bus being built: