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Idaho National Laboratory

From the INEEL Archives
Feature Story

The INEEL is collaborating with industry on an energy efficient, low emission vehicle for the National Parks

Photo of INEEL designed alternative energy bus.

The bus, designed to used alternative energy sources for better fuel efficiency and low emissions, has original 1930 styling.

INEEL researchers are collaborating with Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, the automotive industry and other private companies to develop a new energy efficient, low emission mid-sized bus for use as public transportation.

The vehicle will be a low-floor, 18- to 32-passenger vehicle that uses alternative fuel and complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

In the first phase of the project, scheduled to be completed early in 2003, program partners will develop a low floor shuttle bus prototype with a natural gas power train. This prototype will have added amenities to support tourism in the national parks.

In the second phase of the project, scheduled for completion in 2003, a demonstration prototype will be developed using a liquid natural gas power train that could be integrated with hydraulic launch assist. This vehicle will provide the benefits of greater fuel economy and range, lower emissions with reduced emissions, noise and vibration.

If the prototype phases are successful, production could occur as early as the 2004 model year.

A low-floor bus has the passenger area built low to the ground so steps are not required for entry; it also has an entry ramp that can be extended to accommodate passengers in wheelchairs. This is a critical and long-overdue improvement to the current wheelchair-accessible shuttles that have been plagued with problems and are unreliable. Equally important, the team's efforts will result in a medium-duty community/transit shuttle with higher fuel efficiency and lower emissions that is priced about 45 percent below current low-floor buses.

In the second phase of the project, scheduled for completion in 2003, a demonstration prototype will be developed using a liquid natural gas power train that could be integrated with hydraulic launch assist. This vehicle will provide the benefits of greater fuel economy and range, lower emissions with reduced emissions, noise and vibration.

The development of the prototype is the result of a need by the National Park Service for a year-round transit vehicle that could be used for park operations. Market analysis indicates the vehicle will have broad application in municipal transit and private-sector transportation, thus increasing the probability that the prototype version might someday become a manufacturing reality.

Partners in this project with the INEEL include the National Park Service, ASG Renaissance (located in Dearborn, Mich.), Ruby Mountain, Inc. (Salt Lake City), Greater Yellowstone/Teton Clean Cities Coalition and Arboc Ltd. (a vehicle engineering firm in Michigan).

The genesis for the national park vehicle is the historic red and yellow bus (found in Glacier and Yellowstone national parks, respectively), built by the White Motor Company in the 1930s.

Other facts about the new red bus: