Plug-In Supply Inc. Introduces Lead-Acid PHEV Prius Conversion System for $4,995
US Vehicle Miles Traveled Dropped 3.7% in May; Largest May Drop Ever

Fisher Coachworks Launches With 40' Lightweight PHEV Bus

Fisher Coachworks LLC formally launched this month and highlighted its plans to manufacture energy optimized lightweight hybrid vehicles using advanced materials and propulsion systems as well as new manufacturing technologies.  Fisher’s launch product will be a 40’ Transit Bus that is nominally half the weight and gets twice the fuel economy of current hybrid buses on the market. (Earlier post.)

The new 40-foot bus features a high-strength stainless steel body and chassis made of Nitronic 30, a nitrogen-strengthened stainless steel that is stronger and stiffer than conventional steel. These attributes translate into less material required for a chassis, resulting in reduced weight.

The series hybrid bus will initially use Sodium Nickel Chloride (Zebra) batteries, and Fisher is evaluating a variety of lithium-ion chemistries. About half of the energy used during a drive cycle is provided by the batteries and regenerative braking, with a turbo-diesel engine producing the remaining half in a range-extending charge mode.

Fisher Coachworks CEO Gregory W. Fisher is the grandson of Alfred J. Fisher, one of the original Fisher brothers who on 22 July 1908 formed the Fisher Body Company to take advantage of the paradigm shift from carriages to cars by building chassis designs from metal, rather than wood.

Fisher Coachworks’ product technology has its roots in the engineering work of Autokinetics, located in Rochester Hills, Michigan.



Range extender sounds like a series hybrid. Leaves the door open for many different power options. I can't wait to see their RV concept.

Dr. Richard P McDermott

Good luck guys. This all sounds very familiar.

My company TransTeq made all these claims, projections and more, 10 years ago, when we build a fleet of 36 light weight, stainless steel unibody, 42-foot busses for Denver RTD. Those buses each carry 116 passengers using a CNG fueled, 2.5 litre four cylinder Ford Engine that delelop 68 HP at a constant rpm. The TransTeq busses did not need their batteries recharging at night, they returned to the garage at the end of the day with the same SOC as they left with in the morning. Those busses sold to RTD for approximately $600,000 each and achieved 100% improvment in fuel economy per passenger mile over the standard Diesel busses they replaced. Visit and see the video of the busses in service. Todate, the TransTeq fleet in Denver has amassed over 4 million miles of operational experience. TransTeq has twelve issued patents on the series hybrid technology utilized on the Denver vehicles.

Dr.Richard P. McDermott
Chairman, TransTeq, [a GR Investment Group Company Ltd].

tom deplume

Who you trying to kid? 116 people in a 42 footer? I have decades of experience driving buses of that size and it just isn't possible to squeeze more than 70 people in a bus that size. Even if they are all small children. Either correct that claim or stand as totally unbelievable.



Methinks that carbon fiber would be well used in such buses. The market is appropriate: such vehicles have a long service life (>10 years) and the name of the game is TCO. An all CF bus would weigh... Half as much as a steel bus? That would be good for... A 25% decrease in fuel consumption?


GreenPlease, the TransTeq EcoMark Shuttle Bus is 45 feet long with seating capacity of only 18 to 36 (reports vary). 116 includes standees. Some reports say top speed is 30 mph but the powertrain should be able to handle at least 50-60 mph on level ground. Forget about highway grades, though. Some photos:


SS and carbon fiber chassis, High tech gen sets and batteries. All the right stuff for stop-and-go operation. Saves lots of fuel and brake wear. Million dollar light busses. Excellent investments for municipalities. They can afford it. It’s not our money – um wait, maybe it is.
I hope this is advancing technology.
Maybe it’s just neat stuff sold to non-technical people who don’t know it is just another “before it’s time” copy of TransTeq’s bus.


That's the problem - the non-technical beneficiaries.

I am willing to bet dollars to donuts that no transport utility employs an electrical engineeer. Or put it another way shouldn't the signatures on the contract include at least one technically qualified person ?

Usually it's just some bean counter holding the position of transport manager who has signing authority.

We have rapid transit going in, in my area and I am taking an active interest. Have already spoken to a couple of people in our transit planning office.

That aside, glad to see these designs are addressing the weight issue which is a step in the right direction but I would like to see a company like Boeing get involved with more design resources. Perhaps a DOT contract to produce a series of reference designs could be awarded. I bet there is much commonality with airliner passenger cabin design, deck structure etc with the availability of the most advanced stress analysis software to allow use of the thinnest struts and braces necessary to support the loads.

The low volume of unit manufacture today is why costs are high. Then the amortising of costs over a ten year life is too severe. I bet there are still plenty of 30 year old jetliners ploughing north American skies.

Regarding excessive retrofitting. Before I begin on this. Any one using a Model TRS80 or a CoCo or a Commodore Pet ? No ? Really ? At one time you have to know those were State Of The Art. And none of them are even 30 years old either. Ah, but try getting replacement parts from Tandy or Commodore today. Then you see the problem maintaining SOTA designs. It may be that retrofits of major assemblies including software programming will be needed every five years or so to keep hybrids current. Else if anything goes wrong - there are no spares. Retrofits are a necessary evil. Where's the money coming from for that ?

As I see it the cure is to remove fuel rebates for all public transportation. At the same time allow useful tax rebates on hybrid retrofits. That will reduce the incentive for diesel-only transport and transfer investment to an emerging green technology instead.

Notice that TransTeq went from Lead Acid to NiMH after five years and now three years after that has moved to Li-ion. These are progressive changes not boondoggles. The UQM controllers probably have better communication protocols to extract and exchange data. Or it might be the rotor position sensors are using resolvers and proprietary input circuits specific to that one manufacturer. When you change controllers ironically you have to change the motors as well.

Serial protocols can be a show stopper. In my early days one vendor I dealt with didn't have a watchdog timer on the RS232 link. Since I was controlling 150Hp by wire this was completely unacceptable, needless to say he lost our business.

Now you'd think you would be safe with Siemens. Think again. They managed to change their serial protocol twice on us inside ten years and no back-compatibility either. For a few years we used an available dipswitch on our card to tell our controller which protocol to come up in. But what when our clients would swap out this card, many times for no reason, and neglect the dipswitch settings. That would get them from bad to worse. Then they would phone, neglecting to tell us what they had done of course. Actually they would wait until the evening shift arrived and hand the phone off to a new-hire. And to whom English was a second language, I might add.

Many hours were wasted finding out which drive was installed so that system recovery could then be possible with the correct dipswitch setting. TransTeq will have similar problems unless all 16 vehicles are brought up to the same Rev level. Else the out-of-service record for hybrids is going to look really bad.

As for Siemens, when their newest drive turned up it had yet a fourth protocol, naturally we had to drop them. I bet they still don't think they had done anything wrong by not supplying a product this customer wanted. Kinda' like General Motors when you think about it.

Actually the wisest course is to ignore all the neat features as much as possible. That way when a replacement drive controller becomes imminent you won't find that 'neat feature that no one else has' has become so ingrained into your control logic that it would take major redesign to accept any other vendor's offerings.

The comments to this entry are closed.