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The Malaysian Automotive Institute (MAI) has introduced an electric bus or E-Bus prototype, the result of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that was signed during the launch of the National Automotive Policy (NAP 2014) Roadmaps, a year ago.

To get you up to speed on matters, the signed cooperation between Malaysia and Australia involves the MAI, ARCA Corporation Sdn Bhd, AutoCRC Ltd and Swinburne University of Technology. An E-Bus prototype was originally slated for the first quarter of 2015, but it appears that deadline was delayed until now. Nonetheless, commercialisation of the E-Bus is expected to start in 2016.

On to the electric bus, the prototype seen here is produced by Australian company Bustech, part of the Transit Australia Group (TAG), with the technical support of the companies named in the MoU. The styling seen on the bus is courtesy of local automobile designer Amber Dual.

The bus features an ultra-low floor design for easy ingress and egress, along with an integrated body and chassis. Its body panels, including the three piece front and rear bumpers, are made of either fibreglass, aluminium, or high impact ABS plastic. The body panels are also designed for quick changing should they be damaged in the course of duty.

For power, the E-Bus uses a modular set of three 633 V lithium iron phosphate battery packs that can be configured to provide 90, 180 or 270 kWh. This allows the bus to be adapted for short, medium and long range applications, with the 270 kWh configuration capable of providing an estimated range of 200 km or one shift on one urban bus route.

There is also a battery management system (BMS) that monitors the current status of the batteries, as well as ensuring safe connection and disconnection during charging cycles. The bus also comes equipped with regenerative braking that is controlled by supervisory controller systems, which also handle other sub-systems as well (BMS, power steering, cooling, etc.)

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Both front and rear axles benefit from airbag suspension to support the weight of the bus and its passengers. The front setup is a low floor axle with two airbag suspension with a 7,000 kg load rating, while the rear is a full electric axle with four airbag suspension rated at 11,000 kg. The whole suspension arrangement allow the bus to ferry 65 passengers.

Speaking to the Gold Coast Bulletin, TAG chief executive Michael McGee said, “the electric bus has five major moving parts compared with around 1000 with a traditional combustion engine so requires far less maintenance.” The first concept of the E-Bus appeared in July 2015, after Bustech signed a $170 million (RM530 million) contract last year to manufacture electric buses for the Malaysian government, reports the publication.

Putrajaya is planning to introduce an electric bus service by September 2016 using Scania-made buses with Japanese batteries and charging facilities. As of current, electric buses are being used for the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Sunway Line, where a fleet of 15 BYD-badged electric buses service the 5.4 km route.