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.