Allison Transmission, the premier global supplier of commercial duty fully automatic transmissions and hybrid propulsion systems, continues to expand its established position as a leading supplier to the global bus and coach market. Almost 50,000 Allison transmissions were sold into the global bus market in 2008 – with over 14,000 being fitted to city buses alone. In line with increasing environmental awareness, more than 1,800 GM-Allison two mode hybrid systems are now in operation globally, making the company a leading supplier of this growing technology.
“Allison is trusted by commercial vehicle OEMs and operators around the world, and as market demand for automatics and hybrid systems continues to grow, global OEMs are expanding their Allison offerings,” says Lawrence Love, Executive Director of International Marketing. “Responding to specific local requirements, backed up by local sales and engineering, Allison is globally recognised for its ability to meet stringent OEM and operator demands.”
In China, the 2008 Beijing Olympics presented an opportunity for Allison to demonstrate outstanding customer support for the nearly 12,000 Allison automatic equipped buses operating, thus ensuring the public transport system operated smoothly. A successful operation was led from Allison’s Product Support Command Centre in Beijing staffed with engineers, technical experts and highly-trained service technicians. Operated by Beijing City Bus, the buses safely transported games officials, athletes and members of the international press corps to and from the Olympic Park competition venues. They also smoothly transported spectators from various subway stations around the city to Game venues along 17 special routes, and allowed buses to operate reliably for the duration of the games.
In response to growing customer demand in China in 2008, Allison also successfully partnered with key Chinese bus OEMs such as Kinglong, Zhongtong, Bonluck-BCI, Foton, Yutong, Dandong Hunghai, Youngman and Xiamen Golden Dragon. As well as domestic use, the transmissions are fitted to buses for export to customers in Asia, Russia, Central Europe, the Middle East, South America, USA, Australia and New Zealand.
In Korea, the Allison T280 was exclusively chosen for over 200 Daewoo 12m city buses exported to Kao Hsuing city, in Taiwan. In Seoul, where from 2009 there is a mandate for low floor automatic buses, which excludes diesel engines in preference for CNG power, Allison has partnered with leading manufacturers Hyundai and Daewoo Bus. Allison’s torque converter technology and powershifting capability makes the most of the engine power available; making it ideally suited to the lower horsepower CNG engines. “There are over 500 Allison transmissions in CNG buses already in operation in Seoul City and its vicinity,” adds Simon Kim, Allison Korea’s Regional Manager. “Allison is actively supporting customers, educating fleet and industry personnel to efficiently transport thousands of citizens safely and smoothly, day in day out.”
With many Indian city and airport authorities modernising their bus fleets, Allison is helping OEMs deliver efficient, comfortable and cleaner public transport solutions. “Switching from manual transmissions to new, smoother Allison automatics, the region is truly embracing and enjoying the benefits of this technology,” says Ram Amarnath, Managing Director of Allison India Pvt Ltd. In advance of the 2010 Commonwealth Games, Delhi Transport Corporation now has over 650 Allison-equipped Tata Marcopolo Starbus low floor CNG-powered city buses. Another 55 semi low-floor buses have been supplied to BEST Mumbai by JCBL. Coaches operating at Indian airports are also now benefiting from Allison automatic technology. “Ease of operation, and enhanced manoeuvrability around the airport are just some of the reasons why Ashok-Leyland, Sutlej, and Cobus tarmac coaches are now offered with an Allison,” adds Amarnath.
In Europe, Allison is working hard to offer solutions that meet the demands for optimised fuel economy while maintaining good performance capability. “Allison is developing packages that look at the entire driveline,” says European Marketing Manager Manlio Alvaro. “This includes the development of new features for control systems such as the upcoming Load Based Shifting Schedule (LBSS).
“Based upon actual load and gradient, LBSS automatically selects between Economy and Performance shift schedules to deliver the best all round value. It’s a good example of how we are meeting the high expectations of OEM and operator.”
Allison (allisontransmission.com) is also at the forefront of developing the European hybrid bus market, collaborating with several OEMs. The GM-Allison Ep50 has been released into Solaris’ second generation Urbino Hybrid 18m, now equipped with the 250 Hp Cummins ISBe engine. Solaris buses equipped with GM-Allison two mode hybrid systems have been sold into Germany, Switzerland, and Poland. The first of the new Urbino Hybrid 18 buses was recently delivered to Strasbourg, France, bringing to nine the number of European cities now operating Allison systems in Solaris buses. The UK now too has its first buses equipped with the GM-Allison Ep40 thanks to a contract to supply TFL, London’s public transport operator, with 10 Optare Hybrid Tempos. “London is an arduous duty cycle,” says Allison’s UK Manager Riccardo Sardelli. “Frequent stop-start conditions provide the perfect opportunity to demonstrate our capability. Our extensive hybrid experience is allowing us to optimise the system to increase battery life, enhancing usability.” In The Netherlands, 10 APTS Phileas vehicles with the GM-Allison Ep50 are now operating in city of Eindhoven.
Further east, Allison’s European operations expanded business with Turkish OEM Temsa Global, with a notable new T325 release into the Tourmalin intercity bus, many of which have been delivered to France, where their smoothness in urban environments and progressive control over mountainous routes have been highly commended. One journalist went as far as entitling his review “Converted to the Converter”, going on to highlight the lower driveline noise and praise the “precise control” the integrated retarder provides. Temsa Global also offers the Allison T280R in their Opalin midi coach, with new sales into France, Sweden, Belgium, Netherlands and Spain.
Trusted by manufacturers, the T280R is now standard on the new 190 low entry bus by Turkish bus manufacturer, Otokar with an Allison transmission available to its domestic customers. Czech manufacturer, SOR, and Poland’s Autosan have also expanded sales of their Allison equipped buses with deliveries in Poland, Slovakia, UK and Sweden. As a result of growing market demand for automatics in coach applications, where durability, comfort and low noise are essential, Autosan recently released the Allison option in its A1112T Ramzes and A12 13C intercity coaches.
Allison’s Latin American operations secured releases in both the new Mercedes XBC bus platform and with Peruvian bus manufacturer Modasa. Demand for automatic equipped buses continues to expand in this region with key bus manufacturers Agrale, Materfer and Tatsa now offering Allison equipped buses to the market. “Productivity remains essential in the region, coupled with strong local market support,” says Allison’s Latin American Regional Director, Evaldo Oliveira. Allison delivers; the latest example is Brazil’s public transport operator, Carris, who has taken delivery of their first Allison equipped buses in 2008.
Demand for hybrid technology is particularly strong in North America where the GM-Allison two mode hybrid systems have been delivered to more than 115 cities so far. Some of those cities, like Seattle King County Metro Transit Authority, have now placed second and third orders.