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Breathing Free in New York Text

Photos

Kilian Kirchgessner

Lukas Coch

“Every Orion hybrid bus that replaces a conventional bus on our streets makes our environment cleaner and quieter,” says Andreas Renschler, responsible for the Truck Group on the DaimlerChrysler Board of Management. New Yorkers know what he means. The city already has today 325 of the environmentally friendly buses in service.

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Pulsation: City life in Times Square (p. 104) Music: New Orleans in Union Square (p. 102) Light: An Orion bus on the Avenue of the Americas (p. 101) The Look: A relaxed view of Third Avenue (p. 107)

1936 World’s first diesel passenger car

1971 World’s millionth diesel passenger car

1985

1993

First particulate filter launched in the U.S.

From above, it seems like artful choreography. The cars lined up on First Avenue ease into motion. Many lanes roll together to the next traffic light, where they brake to a stop. Like a checkerboard, the right-angled streets and avenues lead columns of dense traffic step by step through the city. As you look from the roof of a sky­ scraper into the abyss, it all appears very orderly.

Chris Sullivan sees it somewhat differently. He sees the situation not from a bird’s eye view, but front and center. He pushes his way through traffic every day from behind a windshield a whopping 2.5 meters (8 feet) wide. His routine as a city bus driver in New York consists of endless stop-and-go, red lights, and double-parked delivery vans. But his job has become a bit simpler in the past few months. Chris Sullivan now drives one of New York’s currently 325 Orion VII hybrid buses. “It accelerates significantly faster and uses less diesel fuel,” Sullivan says. And of primary importance: His bus runs a lot cleaner than a conventional bus. Major Order from New York The hybrid buses come from Oriskany, a city in upstate New York. It is home to a plant operated by the DaimlerChrysler subsidiary Orion. The bus manufacturer is the undisputed market leader and one of hybrid technology’s pioneers. Engineers at Orion have been working on improving hybrid systems for 12 years. “The heart of the Orion VII hybrid bus is the HybriDrive powertrain produced by BAE Systems in Johnson City, New York. It was specially developed for city traffic,” says Mark Brager, Orion’s Vice President for Sales. The demand is great: In cities like New York and Toronto, transit companies are already implementing several hundred vehicles with DaimlerChrysler’s advanced technology. The biggest order to date came from New York, where the technology was subjected to multi-year trials. Next year will see more than 800 hybrid buses on the city’s streets – that’s almost one bus in five. The city plans gradually to replace its entire fleet with hybrid technology. A major advertising campaign heralds the introduction of the new buses. Large stickers next to the entrance doors alert passengers to the new powertrain. And the interiors offer an unexpected level of comfort: upholstered seats instead of the hard benches previously standard in New York’s public transport.

Four-stroke diesel technology

1996 Direct injection diesel engine

Advantages in Urban Stop and Go The passengers are grateful for the innovations. “The hybrid buses are much more comfortable,” says Rita Edmonds. She works in a large bank in Manhattan and rides the bus to work every day. She lauds not only the cushy seats. The ride is “smooth,” she says. Hybrid buses accelerate gently, without the lurch of shifting gears. An electric motor drives the bus, providing powerful acceleration without unpleasant smoke or soot. The necessary energy comes from a diesel generator in the rear of the bus. It continues to run economically regardless of the driving situation, for a potential fuel savings of more than one-third. At the same time, the diesel engine supplies energy to a powerful battery that can deliver additional power for starts and acceleration. When the driver hits the brakes, the electric motor becomes a generator, providing yet more energy to the battery. Energy created during idling at bus stops is stored instead of being lost.

In urban stop-and-go traffic, the new technology can give full play to its many virtues. The hybrid bus emits 30 percent less greenhouse gases and 40 percent less total oxides of nitrogen than a conventional bus. That’s a strong argument in the technology’s favor, especially in heavily traveled inner cities. New York bus driver Chris Sullivan believes the new technology’s triumph has only just begun. He cheerfully whistles Frank Sinatra’s hymn to New York and adds, grinning, “If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere!” \

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Revolution under the Hood Text Kilian Kirchgessner

Photos Theo Barth

/ The vehicles of the future will come from Troy. The city in Michigan, USA, is home to 500 ­ aimlerChrysler, General Motors, and BMW employees working to perfect a novel variant of the hybrid D powertrain. It is more efficient and environmentally friendly than the hybrid systems currently available in passenger cars. A conversation with Andreas Truckenbrodt, director of the development center. The hybrid system has been available in buses for years. When is DaimlerChrysler going to launch its first hybrid passenger car? The date is already set. The year 2008 will see the launch of the Dodge Durango, our first hybrid passenger vehicle. Gradually the technology will be extended over the entire product line. There’s a perfectly good reason why the buses came first: Buses are constantly braking and accelerating. That maximizes the advantages of the hybrid system. Another factor is that the batteries required for hybrid technology are still relatively bulky. They’re easier to integrate into buses than cars. Does that mean hybrid cars look different than today’s automobiles? No. From outside you can’t tell the difference. We’ve progressed so far in development that the technology has become very compact. It fits right under the hood of any model you can name. Andreas Truckenbrodt, Executive Director, Development Center Troy

What’s different for the driver of a hybrid car? At first glance, nothing. The procedures for driving stay exactly the same, and the driving feeling improves. When you put the car in gear, the electric motor adds power – we call it the booster effect. So you get better acceleration when you step on the gas pedal. On longer drives at a constant speed, the car switches automatically to battery power. The car glides along without making a sound. It makes for very enjoyable driving. How does that work technologically? Here in Michigan we’ve developed an entirely new system we call two-mode drive. It relies on an ingenious interplay of electric motors and internal combustion. Our hybrid system exploits the advantages of both. The electric motor is especially well suited to city driving that involves frequent stops and starts. The combustion engine is especially efficient where RPM is relatively constant, on the highway. A complex control system keeps the dual drive running as economically as possible. Surplus power is automatically stored in a battery for use by the electric motor. Even the kinetic energy from braking isn’t lost – it’s routed into the battery. Drivers can save about 25 percent on fuel with the new technology. If drivers go with the hybrid car for environmental reasons, what are they giving up? That’s the great thing. The cars offer the same performance and the same level of comfort as every other DaimlerChrysler product. The only difference is that they’re even more economical – especially in city traffic. In America we call it “Painless Green.” You’re doing something for the environment, but there’s no sacrifice involved. That’s the big potential of the hybrid system. \

World: An Orion bus rolls by the UN (p. 108)


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Calm: Heading uptown on the Avenue of the Americas at the end of a long day (p. 111)

Herbert Kohler, Chief Environmental Officer, DaimlerChrysler Group

5

Emission-free mobility with fuel cells

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Further development of hybrid drive

3

Use of CO2 - neutral renewable fuels

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Improvements to conventional fuels

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Optimization of internal combustion engines

Five Steps into the Automotive Future / The hood of the car of the future covers a fuel cell power plant. It will be a long time before that technology become prevalent, so reducing the emissions of conventional engines continues to be a priority, says Chief Environmental Officer Herbert Kohler. But in the meantime, the only external difference is the paint job: The car of the future looks like a normal Mercedes-Benz B-Class automobile, except for the word “F-Cell” displayed prominently on its silver exterior. Under the hood is a technology that could revolutionize transportation. The car is powered by a fuel cell that takes its energy from a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen, creating zero emissions. To date only a few prototypes are on the road worldwide. DaimlerChrysler has the largest fleet of any automaker, with over 100 vehicles in daily use. The new technology is not ready for volume production. But in ten years, experts estimate, there may be a market for as many as 100,000 fuel cell cars worldwide – an important step toward making fuel cell technology commercially viable. Compared to the 850 million vehicles now in service worldwide, it’s a drop in the bucket. It will be many years before the fuel cell vehicle becomes a regular sight on our streets. “Vehicles that use conventional fuel will dominate the market for the foreseeable future,” says Herbert Kohler, Chief Environmental Officer of DaimlerChrysler. The engineers’ goal is clear: They are looking for ways of making conventional engines more environmentally friendly, allowing the fuel cell more time to mature to commercial viability. Their most important aims are improved fuel economy and emissions reduction. Their progress so far is impressive. “Since the beginning of the 1990s, we’ve reduced emissions by 70 percent

and more in our passenger cars alone,” Herbert Kohler says. “Of course, in the future we will need even more effective optimization of the combined fuel and powertrain system. Only a holistic approach that takes both aspects into consideration can meet the challenges of climate protection and resource conservation.” To meet those goals, DaimlerChrysler is pursuing a five-step strategy. The first step is further optimization of conventional internal combustion engines. The strategic emphasis is on using technologies such as BLUETEC (see page 62) to make diesel engines run as cleanly as gasoline engines while moving toward spark-ignition that runs as economically as the compression-ignition diesel. The second step is improvement of conventional fuels. Modern power plants will demand ever higher quality fuel. A third step is the reduction of net carbon dioxide emissions through the use of biogenic fuels. The hybrid system, whose more widespread introduction constitutes the fourth step, offers vast potential fuel savings, especially in urban traffic. Its novel electrical components serve as an important link to the fifth step – the fuel cell. Progress in developing improved hybrid systems also aids the development of fuel cell vehicles. \

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360 Degrees - Magazine on Sustainability 2006

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