Photo credit: Busworld 2013
The biggest international bus and coach exhibition in the world will be held Oct. 18-23 in the Kortrijk Xpo exhibition halls in Belgium.
Mieke Glorieux, director of Busworld Kortrijk, reports that the exhibition is fully booked, with 380 exhibitors coming from 32 countries. More exhibitors and possibly also more visitors than during the 2011 edition, that was visited by 31.698 persons.
Vehicle manufacturers and component suppliers always try to launch their latest products and services at Busworld Kortrijk, because that gives them the best exposure to international visitors and the industry media.
Busworld Kortrijk expects many new buses and coaches, because Euro 6 engine emission standards become mandatory in the European Union from January 2014. Emission levels from diesel engines have dropped stage by stage since the first introduction of emission limits just over twenty years ago and are now miniscule.
One of the most notable features of Euro 6 engines is their amazing silence. This is particularly welcome for passengers travelling long distances in touring and express coaches, but it is also a major benefit on city buses, not only for drivers and passengers, but also for people living and working next to bus routes. It will help to make the concept of bus rapid transit (BRT) more acceptable and a genuine alternative to the tram, at much lower capital and infrastructure costs. This will be highlighted in the Busworld Academy seminar, where Transmilenio will present their successful BRT case in Bogota, Colombia.
Euro 6 engines will also be beneficial in hybrid drive systems. These are still being refined, with features that enable the vehicle to work in all-electric mode when approaching and departing from bus stops. Greater savings in fuel consumption are being achieved.
Some people believe that hybrid is simply a stage in the development towards all-electric buses. Currently, the main limit is the range that can be achieved from a battery pack. If a bus carries sufficient batteries for a full day’s work, then there is inevitably a serious weight penalty.
The answer is coming in various forms of fast charging, either at each end of the route, or at busy stops on the way. Solutions include inductive charging, where a bus can take a fast boost of current from a plate on the road surface, or cables underneath it. Other systems use overhead charging points and some of this technology will be revealed at Busworld Kortrijk. Alternative driveline vehicles will also be tested during the European Coach & Bus Week.
Coaches are likely to continue using diesel power for many years to come. On most models, Euro 6 will present a challenge, because larger and heavier cooling systems are required. Additional safety systems will become mandatory, so designers face a challenge in keeping within maximum permitted gross axle weights.
It is not a coincidence that ‘Sustainable Mobility’ remains the basic theme of Busworld Kortrijk 2013. Sustainable solutions will get extra attention, like in 2011.
One of the other strong trends in the industry in recent years has been the rapid growth in electronic systems. All the manufacturers and many specialist suppliers can offer diagnostic systems that monitor vehicle and driver performance. Smart ticketing systems are in widespread use. Customers now expect on-board features like wi-fi. These and many other novelties will be seen at Busworld Kortrijk.