As part of a major fleet upgrade, the Chelyabinsk city transport operator Public Municipal Transport received its first LNG MAZ-203 buses equipped with the Allison fully-automatic transmissions.
Chelyabinsk, Russia, February 2019 – The Сity of Chelyabinsk and the Chelyabinsk Oblast authorities decided to upgrade the municipal transport operator’s bus fleet in early summer this year, launching a trial period for manufacturers. The Allison equipped LNG MAZ-203 city bus proved to be the best.
Natural gas vehicles have been a priority from the very start due to their environmental friendliness and lower noise compared to the diesel engine, thus fitting best in an intensely populated metropolis. In addition, the natural gas filling station infrastructure is currently being developed all around the Chelyabinsk Oblast under the agreement between the local authorities and NOVATEK-AZS.
The low-floor city bus MAZ-203 (model 203945) has a 206-hp Weichai LNG engine and the 6- speed retarder equipped Allison T375 fully automatic transmission. It can take up to 98 passengers at a time.
“We had a three-month trial,” says Dmitry Kholod, CEO at Public Municipal Transport. “We had an opportunity to exhaustively test the buses at our disposal. The first thing that strikes you when you use a MAZ with the Allison automatics is its amazingly steady performance. This is because an automatic transmission always ensures the optimum change of gears.”
The Allison solutions are historically 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 more volatile and less predictable spark ignited CNG and LPG 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, eliminating the torque interrupts of a manual or automated manual transmissions and Improving overall braking resulting in reduced downtime and maintenance costs.
“Another important benefit of NGVs is high cost effectiveness. The LNG MAZ-203 have proven to be exceptionally fuel-efficient. The transmission contributes greatly to it: the Allison T375 has six gears, and it always chooses the right one. So, the engine runs at its optimum without wasting any fuel,” Dmitry Kholod continues.
The Allison fully automatic transmission has an extensive life cycle and is easy to maintain: it only needs scheduled oil and filter replacement. Another widespread disadvantage of buses with a mechanics – clutch burn (mostly by less experienced drivers) resulting in long idle time – is totally eliminated due to the implementation of the automatic transmission. All this also increases cost effectiveness.
The ease of operation is extremely important in dense city traffic. The Allison automatics makes it easy to drive a large bus and boosts its maneuverability and dynamic acceleration. The driver can focus on handling and the road without being distracted by shifting gears.
“The driver’s comfort is crucial because it is what primarily affects the safety of passengers. In this sense, an automatic transmission is an ideal solution since the driver gets less tired and is thus can focus more on driving itself. In its turn, it enhances passenger safety and comfort,” comments Dmitry Kholod.
The Chelyabinsk Oblast has purchased for the Сity of Chelyabinsk 33 LNG MAZ-203 buses equipped with Allison fully automatic transmissions. The company is planning further upgrade and expansion of its LNG fleet.
“The new LNG MAZ-203 are eco-friendly, efficient and comfortable. We believe they will greatly unload our routes and find their way to the hearts of the people of Chelyabinsk,” sums up Dmitry Kholod.