By working with Chinese manufacturers, AFV Solutions says it can cut the price of a diesel-hybrid municipal bus by about half.
Right now, a diesel-electric hybrid from manufacturer like DaimlerChrysler sells for around $480,000 to $500,000. AFV, which partners with China's Wuzhoulong, can make them for $150,000 to $200,000, said CEO Richard Steele in an interview. The company has already sold a bunch of the buses to Macao, the gambling haven near mainland China, and to cities in South America.
San Francisco and other large cities are beginning to stock their municipal transportation fleets with diesel hybrids. These buses function like regular diesel buses but use 25 to 50 percent less diesel because they also have an electric motor. Granted, that means gas mileage might be rising from three miles a gallon to four miles a gallon, but it does reduce diesel fumes.
Steele added that AFV buses get higher gas mileage than competing buses because of the microprocessor the company has devised that allows the engine to more efficiently switch from the diesel engine to the battery-powered motor.
AFV is a small player in this space but says it will try to survive by forming joint ventures with large, established manufacturers, and by bidding on contracts for fleets of buses. The company will be able to produce about 12,000 vehicles a year when additional manufacturing facilities come on line.