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Eaton to Provide Diesel Hybrid Drive Systems for Beiqi Foton Motor Company Buses

Eaton Corporation will provide hybrid drive systems for two prototype buses to be built by Beiqi Foton AUV Bus Company. The buses will be field-tested in major Chinese cities, including Shanghai and Beijing, this year.

The Beiqi Foton project is the first hybrid-powered city bus project for Eaton and the first hybrid power project for Eaton outside North America. Beiqi Foton said its goal is to win as many new orders as possible for the clean bus competition for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and 2010 Shanghai World Expo.

The two Foton buses will use an Eaton hybrid powertrain consisting of an Eaton automated transmission system, advanced motor/generator, high-power battery pack and system controller combined with a Cummins ISBe 5.9L Euro III engine. Eaton is currently remaining mum on releasing further detail.

Eaton utilizes a parallel hybrid system architecture, which maintains conventional mechanical drivetrain architecture but adds the ability to augment engine torque with electrical horsepower.

The first bus, at 11.4 meters in length and 15,500 kg GVW, was built in January 2006, and went into prototype testing in March. It has accumulated about 3,700 kilometers with no hybrid powertrain reliability issues.

It will soon be placed into field testing, and is currently being showcased in a city bus demonstration event in Beijing, March 18-20. The second bus, at 12 meters and 17,800 kg GVW, will be built in May and field tested in August 2006.

Hybrid systems built by Eaton are powering package delivery vehicles being built for FedEx Express and UPS in North America. (Earlier post.) Additionally, 24 vehicles in 14 public utility fleets around the U.S. will begin using Eaton’s hybrid electric system in 2006. (Earlier post.)

Beiqi Foton Motor Co., Ltd., established in 1996, is one of China’s largest producers in the commercial vehicle industry, and the leading maker of light-duty trucks. Foton’s product line includes trucks with payload under 35 tons, light bus, SUV, pickup truck, medium and large buses. With 28,000 employees, Foton produced more than 310,000 vehicles in 2005.

Earlier in March, Cummins and Beiqi Foton signed a feasibility study plan for the formation of a 50/50 joint venture company to produce two types of light-duty diesel engines for use primarily in the commercial market in China. (Earlier post.)


Rafael Seidl

City buses are great candidates for hybridization because they have a lot of mass and make frequent stops. It's also good to see the Chinese at least beginning to tackle the massive environmental problems associated with the rapid motorization of 1.2 billion people.

Note that Eaton is using a high-power rather than a high-capacity battery pack. Ultracaps and hydraulic hybrids also support high power fluxes in and out of storage, but do so more efficiently. Eaton may simply have more experience with batteries.

The only disappointment is the choice of a Euro 3 engine when models meeting the tougher Euro 4 emissions standards are already available. Perhaps the diesel quality in China is not yet high enough.

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