Russia’s first LNG bus, LOTOS 105 by RariTEK, has an Allison fully automatic transmission for high performance in city traffic with lower operation and service costs.
NABEREZHNYE CHELNY, Russia, October 2019 – RariTEK is a leading Russian manufacturer of natural gas commercial vehicles and LOTOS city and commuter buses. The key market requirements for such vehicles are safety, convenience and low operational
and service costs. That is exactly why the company’s engineers chose to equip their innovative LOTOS buses with fully automatic transmissions from Allison Transmission, the largest global manufacturer of medium- and heavy-duty fully automatic
Today, the RariTEK lineup of buses running on natural gas includes the LOTOS 206 (226) that uses compressed gas and the LOTOS 105 in two versions—with compressed and liquefied gas. The LOTOS 105 is a large low-floor bus with a length of 10.5 meters.
It has a 260-hp Yuchai engine that is fully compliant with Euro 5.
According to LOTOS Project Manager Denis Denisov, special attention was paid to the selection of the optimum automatic transmission when developing the powertrain for the new buses. In the end, it was decided to install the Allison T 280TM fully automatic
transmission on the new LOTOS 105.
“We collected a lot of data on how Allison-equipped buses behave. We would meet and talk to fleet owners who operate such vehicles, and we ultimately chose Allison,” said Denisov. “Everyone notes the optimum engine work mode achieved
via optimum gear changes among their key strengths and exceptional safety. It seems they are simply unrivaled in terms of safety.”
An essential factor in operating a city bus is the driver’s comfort and ease of use. The Allison automatic transmission maximizes the simplicity of driving a large bus, and provides exceptional maneuverability and fast acceleration that does not
interrupt torque delivery during gear shifts. The driver can focus on the road instead of paying attention to gears, which is crucial in dense city traffic.
“The driver’s shift is 12 hours. Just imagine how many times one has to shift the gear lever and push the clutch pedal with the manual transmission,” said Denisov. “So, we came to a very simple conclusion that an automatic transmission
is safer and more convenient because city traffic is very intense these days, and with an automatic transmission the driver has less fatigue and can better concentrate on driving. This directly affects passenger safety and comfort.”
Among the traditional strengths of natural-gas vehicles are their high fuel efficiency and almost zero adverse impact on the environment. In this sense, the Allison transmission perfectly fit the eco-friendly and viable city transport concept.
Historically, the Allison solutions are perfectly suited to natural gas engines, both compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG), in a wide range of applications. Manual and automated manual transmissions require cuts in engine torque
to allow for shifts. Smoothly matching these engine torque cuts with a more volatile and less predictable spark-ignited CNG and LNG engines proved nearly impossible. The inherent benefits of Allison's Continuous Power Technology™, featuring
full-power shifts and patented torque converter, contribute to operating at a more consistent engine speed. This eliminates the torque interrupts of a manual or automated manual transmission and improves overall braking resulting in reduced downtime and maintenance costs.
LOTOS 105 buses have a higher fuel efficiency and longer unrefueled run. With a tank capacity of 450 liters (which is about the same as in trucks), they can run as far as 600 km unrefueled. Again, the transmission is important in this respect. The Allison
T 280TM has six gears and an optimum gear selection at all times, so the engine runs optimally without excessive fuel consumption.
“Yet, this is not the limit to its contribution to bus viability,” said Denisov. “First, the Allison fully automatic transmission has quite a considerable lifespan and is very easy to maintain, with regular oil and filter replacement
being enough. Second, it is a common case when mainly inexperienced drivers burn the clutch on buses with mechanics, which means repair and downtime. That is totally out of the question with an automatic transmission.”
The demand for the new LOTOS 105 is very high: such major Russian cities as Novosibirsk, Chelyabinsk and Rostov have currently shown interest in it. RariTEK plans to further develop its natural-gas vehicle portfolio with the priority of installing Allison
fully automatic transmissions on such vehicles.
“A modern city bus must be safe, reliable, fuel-efficient and comfortable for both passengers and the driver. Allison automatics meet these requirements absolutely,” said Denisov. “As for installing such transmissions on natural-gas
buses, Allison solutions help maximize their benefits.”
RariTEK is a trade and production company that specializes in manufacturing and servicing vehicles that run on gas, design of gas fuel stations and mobile gas refuellers, and conversion of conventional fuel vehicles into vehicles running on natural gas.
In addition, RariTEK production facilities manufacture proprietary gas engines RGK, service equipment for gas-powered vehicles, and specialized spare parts. The company carries out full-scale assembly of medium and large buses under its own brand LOTOS.
Special attention is given to the development of new technologies and processes of cryogenic fuel system production and the methods of installing such systems on various vehicles. The company has created a technology and process for manufacturing components
and equipment for low-capacity LNG plants.
It also has more than 30 gas vehicle service centers all over Russia. These include the country’s largest service center in Naberezhnye Chelny that can accept more than 30 methane vehicles at the same time. The company’s training center has
trained and certified more than 5,000 professionals in the principles, rules and standards of using gas-powered vehicles.
RariTEK is one of the pioneers at the gas-powered-vehicle market in Russia. Twenty years of project implementation has allowed the company to accumulate a sufficient number of competencies to offer the new high-efficiency solutions to the market.