MAN EcoCity gas bus passes Reading tests with flying colours 05 April 2012

Four weeks into a five-week trial, Reading Transport has said its CNG-powered MAN EcoCity bus demonstrator makes a "perfectly feasible" proposition on its urban-intensive Reading Buses operation.

"Does it work? So far, yes it does," comments Reading Transport CEO James Freeman, praising MAN's new compressed natural gas bus.

"The gas bus goes out every morning, and we don't see or hear of it until it returns 12 hours later – and that's exactly how it should be. MAN really does seem to have cracked it with MAN EcoCity."

The 40-seater 17,900kg gvw MAN EcoCity bus is powered by a E2876 LUH 04 EEV (enhanced environmentally friendly vehicle) engine, with a three-way catalytic converter, delivering 272bhp and 1,050 Nm of torque

That power plant is matched to a ZF automatic gearbox 6 AP 1200 Ecolife, with integrated retarder. Fuel is stored in four aluminium composite canisters.

Freeman points to Reading Transport's 25-year history of trialling new engine technology, not all of it successfully, and states that indications suggest MAN EcoCity is a viable system for fleet acquisition.

"Emissions are very low indeed," he continues, "and that's in tune with the philosophy of our local authority owners, Reading Borough Council. We are due to replace our single-deck fleet in 2013, and the MAN EcoCity proposition appears to be perfectly feasible."

Freeman says his organisation has tried everything – from ethanol to LPG, electric-hybrid, even cooking oil. "The difference with MAN EcoCity, is that gas bus technology has come of age. It's a proven power system."

MAN's EcoCity was designed and constructed specifically for the UK market. MAN claims operating cost savings of some 30%, and the ability to run on the UK's fast-building supplies of biogas – thus reducing emissions to zero.

A key part of the success of the gas bus programme's development to date has been MAN's partnership with the Gas Bus Alliance, aimed at assisting with the gas infrastructure required for successful operation of CNG vehicles.

MAN EcoCity is also due to be trialled with other UK bus operators over the coming months.

Brian Tinham

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