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Battery-electric route bus: a platform for vehicle design

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posted on 27.02.2017, 02:09 by Fridman, Ilya
This research developed a platform for designing battery-electric vehicle (BEV) route buses within an Australian context. The uncertainty of oil supply, increasing price of diesel fuel and development limitations of the internal combustion engine (ICE) encourage a transition away from current vehicle platforms. BEV systems address these concerns, while presenting potential to enhance vehicle performance and passenger accommodation on purpose-designed route buses. Conflicts between on-board energy storage, passenger accommodation and vehicle configuration are evident amongst design precedents. BEV systems display unique functional and operational characteristics, though are commonly retrofitted within existing platforms-developed around the ICE. The result is poor operational performance and missed opportunities for enhancing vehicle design. Analysis of contemporary BEV route buses presented a knowledge gap in the link between operational strategies, on-board energy storage and vehicle design. No consensus could be found in literature to answer how these factors were addressed in an optimal design solution. Development of a BEV route bus platform required greater understanding of battery configuration and operational strategies in an Australian context. Research addressed this knowledge gap through design-led experimentation that integrated knowledge from vehicle engineering, battery chemistry and public transport. Research throughout this thesis was conducted based on knowledge from literature and the field. Where knowledge was partial or did not exist, design-led experimentation developed assessable vehicle concepts and filled knowledge gaps. Experimentation addressed three key research areas. The first developed vehicle concepts based on existing knowledge from literature and design precedents. The second tested these concepts for their ability to achieve operation analogous to current ICE buses. The third focused on the ability to enhance BEV route bus design through considered operational strategies. Experiment outcomes resulted in three contributions to BEV route bus design knowledge: 1. Purpose-designed BEV route buses may achieve enhancements in passenger accommodation, vehicle design and operation; 2. Large on-board battery packs significantly influence vehicle design and must be integrated with consideration for passenger accommodation and mass distribution; 3. Operational strategies may mitigate energy storage effects to achieve enhancements in vehicle design and passenger accommodation. Research outcomes collectively represent an original contribution to knowledge through the development of a platform for vehicle design. Designers may apply these findings partially or entirely when developing BEV route buses for Australian operation.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

Robbie Napper

Additional supervisor 1

Arthur De Bono

Additional supervisor 2

Michael Kearney

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre



Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture