Autocar-inspired 'new Routemaster' is unveiled by Mayor Boris Johnson
11 November 2010

The all-new, open platform, London double decker bus has been unveiled by Mayor Boris Johnson.

The ‘New Bus for London’ project was inspired by a design commissioned by Autocar in December 2007 and backed by Johnson, who was then the Conservative party candidate for London Mayor.

Technically, the bus is significantly more advanced than current double-decker buses. It is built around an aluminium spaceframe chassis and is powered by a ‘range-extender’ electric transmission.

The rear wheels are driven by an electric motor, which is powered by both a lithium-Ion battery pack and a 4.5-litre diesel engine/generator, which is mounted at the rear of the bus under the staircase.

Wrightbus sources say that the battery will not charged overnight, but will be kept in a constant state of readiness by the engine/generator.

The on-board computer will constantly decide how to mix and match power to the electric motor from either the battery, the generator or both.

Lurching starts should also be a thing of the past with this new bus. TfL and Wrightbus are working on a torque limit for initial acceleration, which should prevent standing passengers from being wrong-footed.

Transport for London, which commissioned the design from Northern Irish bus specialist Wrightbus, is claiming significant reductions in fuel consumption and pollutants compared for the NB4L, even when compared with current hybrid-powered buses. A significant reduction in noise pollution is also expected.

As well as the return of the traditional open rear platform, the NB4L gets two additional doors and has twin staircases. The aim is to make loading and unloading passengers much quicker than on conventional buses.

The open rear platform can also be closed off at certain times of the day, via slimline folding doors.

This full-size mock-up was built by Wrightbus, which is currently working on the first NB4L prototypes. Real-world testing begins early next year at the Millbrook test track in Bedfordshire.

Wrightbus and TfL expect to have the first example running in the capital by the end of next year, with another four to follow in the first half of 2012.

The bus has not yet been named, though ‘Olympian’ (an old Leyland bus badge) is thought to be a contender.

Peter Hendy, head of TfL, told Autocar that he expected all the double-deckers on London’s 8000-strong fleet would eventually be replaced by this new design.

Join the debate


11 November 2010

Remind me again: what's this doing in a car magazine?

11 November 2010

[quote WFC Holden]

Remind me again: what's this doing in a car magazine?


Ha, brilliant!

11 November 2010

I like the design, especially the rear with the curving semi-glazed staircase. It reminds me of the exposed stairs on old horse-drawn and early motor buses. It looks destined to become just as iconic as the Routemaster. Unfortunately there is still a diesel engine lurking within so there will still be fumes and pollution. Can't it be made into a trolley bus, giving city centres a real benefit? Fuel cells are still too much in their infancy alas.

11 November 2010

[quote WFC Holden]Remind me again: what's this doing in a car magazine[/quote]

Probably because its the nearest most of the public will ever come to a useable electric vehicle! You'll see more of these from your driving seat than a Nissan leaf anyway!

To live is to drive

11 November 2010

[quote streaky]I like the design, especially the rear with the curving semi-glazed staircase. [/quote]

I'm not sure girls with short skirts share that opinion.

Good looking bus,one more reason to visit London!

11 November 2010

[quote WFC Holden]Remind me again: what's this doing in a car magazine?[/quote] Exactly.

There should be news of 2011 tractors in the magazine by this logic


I'm The Ωmega Man, always talking to myself

11 November 2010

Very supportive of the concept, but can't help feeling that the styling has lost a lot compared to the initial designs.

But more importantly, if it is cleaner and quieter than the current buses, then it's a good thing.

11 November 2010

Great design, except for that diesel engine. Shouldnt the range extender be powered by lpg? Or something else less poluting than diesel.

11 November 2010

[quote streaky] Can't it be made into a trolley bus, giving city centres a real benefit?[/quote]

I can't believe I'm wasting time discussing BUSES - I always found Lady T's assertion very persuasive that anyone still relying on public transport at the age of 30 was a failure - but a real benefit? Truly? All those gantries and power-lines slung across the street making the capital look like a slice of 1960s eastern Europe? In what way does this constitute a benefit?

11 November 2010

What's not like about a aluminium space-framed, range extender that's made in the UK and is world leading? Have we all given up on the UK's ability to innovate? if you want to know why Autocar has a special interest in the bus, you can download the original article here.


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