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An Alternative Ride Undergraduate Students And Faculty At Western Washington University Design A Hybrid Electric Bus

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Design with External Clients

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.137.1 - 15.137.25



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Paper Authors


Steven Fleishman Western Washington University

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STEVEN FLEISHMAN is currently an Assistant Professor in the Engineering Technology Department at Western Washington University. He joined the Vehicle Research Institute at WWU in 2006 after spending twenty years in automotive drivetrain R&D.

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Eric Leonhardt Western Washington University

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ERIC LEONHARDT is the Director of the Vehicle Research Institute and teaches courses in powertrain, vehicle design and gaseous fuels. He is working with students to develop lightweight vehicles, biomethane refining units, and small displacement V-8 engines. Prior to teaching he worked at DaimlerChrysler and EDS.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

An Alternative Ride - Undergraduate Students and Faculty at Western Washington University Design a Hybrid Electric Bus


Students and faculty at Western Washington University's (WWU) Vehicle Research Institute (VRI) are designing a hybrid electric bus for public transit operators in Washington State, with potential national appeal. The initial focus of the bus design is to serve communities that offer on-demand, or access transit service, which provides transportation to residents with limited mobility options. By using a modular design approach, the team has chosen to allow for a range of potential vehicle applications, including school bus, shuttle bus, and commuter service variants. An all-electric version is also planned for shorter distance route coverage. Considering the design goals of increased fuel economy, as well as improved maintainability and serviceability over existing products, the resultant reduction in overall operating costs will provide added incentive for fleet operators when considering new vehicle purchases. Improvements in vehicle aerodynamics, use of lightweight construction materials, and a hybrid powertrain will help contribute to greater fuel economy. Unique design and fabrication techniques for high performance structural composites will be utilized to reduce curb weight by 30-50%, when compared to conventional steel chassis design benchmarks. Self-imposed mandates adopted by the WWU R&D team include design and manufacturing sustainability focus, which are reflected in all architectural, materials selection, and manufacturing process decisions. An additional design goal targets the ability to use a range of alternative fuels by using a modular hybrid powertrain and open source control strategies that enable utilization of regional feedstocks available to the purchaser.

The hybrid bus project combines undergraduate Vehicle Design students with Engineering Technology (ET) faculty and local industry representatives to form the primary R&D team. Students majoring in the Industrial Design and CAD / CAM programs at WWU have also played a major role in helping to develop interior, exterior and chassis design concepts. The R&D team met with a cross section of transit authority members from across Washington State in order to capture the needs of a variety of stakeholders involved in public transportation. Through the efforts of a multidisciplinary team that is utilizing automotive industry best practices such as Quality Function Deployment (QFD) and Design Failure Mode Effects and Analysis (DFMEA), a paradigm-shifting vehicle is being developed for intended production implementation by 2015. The team is in the process of developing computer-aided models of the bus body and chassis, and is finalizing mathematical models of bus performance, which will assist in powertrain selection and battery pack sizing. A preliminary prototype bus design should be complete by the summer of 2010.

This paper will focus on the details of sustainable design decisions that are being used by the collaborative team for the vehicle. The reader will understand the major concerns indicated by the transit industry that are driving the need for change in specific areas, as well as the solutions the team is developing to address these concerns, while striving to enhance the ride experience for all.

Fleishman, S., & Leonhardt, E. (2010, June), An Alternative Ride Undergraduate Students And Faculty At Western Washington University Design A Hybrid Electric Bus Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15648

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