Last week we reviewed the Autotram Extra Grand, the longest bus currently in operation. That begs the question; what’s the shortest bus out there? Well, let’s refine our criteria a little first – we’ll rule out one-off prototypes and home-made hacksaw IH Loadstars (amazing how many are out there…) and focus on production models. That leads us to the bus above – the Technobus Gulliver U520, built by Technobus SPA, of Frosinone Italy.
The Gulliver is a transit bus made specifically for small urban streets, like those found in many European cities. The bus is only 5.3 meters (17.3 ft) long and 2 meters (6.8 ft) wide.
Capacity is 10 passengers seated with an additional 10 standing, for a total of 20.
Powertrain is electric – currently there are three versions; the basic model above was introduced in 1996 and is powered by a lead-acid battery pack which limits range to between 40-60 km. This limited range restricts the bus to very short routes – but the battery pack is on a removable pallet that can be changed out quickly.
Customers desired longer range and air conditioning, which the Base model’s lead acid batteries couldn’t support. In mid-2000’s, Gulliver introduced an updated model with a new lithium-ion battery pack that allowed for A/C and an extended range to around 120 km.
Recently introduced is the latest model which incorporates fuel cell technology that allows a range of over 250 km.
Many European cities have purchased the Gulliver – Rome is currently the largest operator with over 50 of the coaches.
While most sales have been in Europe, Quebec City purchased eight in 2008 for use in its “Old Quebec” district as a free shuttle.
At 17.3 feet, its two feet shorter than my 1978 Lincoln Town Coupe (19.3 ft)…