Fischer Coachworks Nearing Production of GTB-40 PHEV Bus

Fischer Coachworks GTB-40

In brief: Fischer Coachworks, the new iteration of the century-old auto body company, is planning to enter limited production for their GTB-40 plug-in hybrid electric transit bus in 2010.

Vehicle in the news

Make/Model: GTB-40 Mass Transit Bus
Manufacturer: Fischer Coachworks

The word

Fischer Coachworks GTB-40

Over a 100 years ago, a company called Fischer Body was formed to make auto body parts and panels for General Motors. The company made the phrase "Body by Fischer" popular in GM ads.

Over time, the company was absorbed into General Motors, who let the name and trademarks lapse. Finally, a century later, a grandson of one of the original founders, Gregory Fischer, has re-started the company as Fischer Coachworks.

The company has been quietly working on a plug-in electric hybrid mass transit bus they're calling the GTB-40 Mass Transit. Their goal has been to take a standard bus design and then reduce its weight by half while adding a hybrid power train and short-range plug-in electric capability.

That goal is near to being reached as the GTB-40 body is made of 30T stainless steel from AK Steel Company. That monocoque alloy is helping reduce the body weight by 50% while the bus itself is built to be an organic unit whose structure holds it together, similar to aircraft design.

Because the bus is so light, other lighter components can also be used, including smaller wheels and tires, lighter suspension, and lighter drive train components.

The bus is powered by a battery-dominant serial hybrid propulsion system that works similarly in concept to the Chevrolet Volt, though the two vehicles are unrelated.

The first buses will be on the road with the Mass Transit Authority in Flint, Michigan next year, funded by a Department of Transportation grant of $2.2 million to the authority.

And so ...

Cutting fuel consumption by almost 50% versus its diesel counterparts, the GTB-40 is certainly a big step towards more air-friendly mass transit.

Photo credits: Fischer Coachworks

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