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CALSTART Small Hybrid Bus Working Group Selects StarTrans-Azure Dynamics for National Hybrid Bus Deployment

The Azure Dynamics Balance chassis. Click to enlarge.

CALSTART’s Hybrid Truck Users Forum (HTUF) Small Hybrid Bus Working Group members have selected the supplier team of StarTrans-Azure Dynamics for a 16-plus vehicle national hybrid-electric bus procurement.

The vehicles are 23-foot, gasoline-powered hybrid electric cutaway buses using the StarTrans Senator bus body, Ford E450 chassis, and the Azure Dynamics Balance parallel electric hybrid system with the Ford 5.4L engine and the 5-speed automatic TorqShift transmission. The Azure Balance system includes engine-off at idle and at below 20 mph (32 km/h), while electronically supporting key ancillary functions like air conditioning, power steering and braking.

The 23-foot gasoline-electric hybrid buses—a size smaller than heavy urban transit buses—are part of a national pilot program to speed commercialization of these vehicles, which are expected to yield 30% to 40% reductions in fuel use with an accompanying 30% reduction in emissions.

The vehicles have a passenger capacity of 14 riders, including 2 wheelchair positions. The buses meet the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Altoona testing protocols for 7 years/200,000 miles service life and are American with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant.

The small hybrid buses will operate with at least nine fleets in varying climates, geographies and duty cycles, and their performance will be demonstrated in chassis dynamometer and field testing. The bus performance requirements were developed jointly by fleets in the HTUF Small Hybrid Bus Working Group, who committed to purchasing and using vehicles meeting their requirements.

Working group members taking part in the pilot project include the Missouri Department of Transportation (on behalf of Older Adults Transportation Service and Southeast Missouri Transportation Service), which served as the lead agency for the procurement, TriMet Transportation District, Portland, Oregon; City of White Plains, New York; Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts; Utah Transit Authority, Salt Lake City, Utah; Marin County Transit, San Rafael, California; Tahoe Transportation District, Stateline, Nevada; City of Aspen, Aspen, Colorado; and Sacramento Regional Transit, Sacramento, California.

StarTrans Bus, a Supreme Indiana Operations Inc. Co, has partnered with Azure Dynamics for the past three years and is the exclusive manufacturer for its G1 series hybrid product. StarTrans also manufactures buses on their newest platform, the Balance Hybrid Drive, which utilizes the Ford E450 chassis. Both the G1 and Balance StarTrans bus bodies have been Altoona tested.

HTUF’s Small Hybrid Bus Working Group is supported by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The national HTUF program is a joint program between CALSTART and the US Army TARDEC’s National Automotive Center (NAC). HTUF works to speed the commercialization of hybrid drivelines that could be used in both military and commercial vehicles. The HTUF program benefits from the participation of more than 80 fleets representing roughly one million trucks and buses.



5.4L to carry 14 people!!! WTF
too little too late.


Its gasoline not diesel so that explains the engine size.


There are lots of suburban areas in Southern California where these buses would be good to use. Right now they use F450 gasoline 14 passenger vans that carry maybe 4-5 passengers on average and get maybe 8 mpg. Improving air quality and reducing fuel consumption would be a great thing to do.

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