GAZ Group has unveiled its new prototype GAZelle City and Vector Next buses with anti-viral features.
The handrails have antimicrobal coating containing silver ions, there are also UV air recirculation systems, touch-free hand sanitizer dispensers, and touch free stop buttons in the new buses.
According to project chief engineer- R&D expert Ivan Sukhanin, municipal public transport in Russia has never had these features before. We have managed to complete the design work and assemble the prototypes in a record-short time, he said. However, because of the coronavirus outbreak, purchasing necessary antimicrobal equipment for the prototypes turned out to be a challenge. For example, one manufacturer of air recirculators refused to supply straightaway citing overbooking as the reason. The only thing that was not in short supply were dispensers. We fitted our buses with the same kind of hand sanitizer dispensers that you can see in GAZ offices and on the shop floor.
As always, engineers used a modular approach based on a set of standard equipment. The only variable is the number of devices that changes basing on the class of the vehicle. Thus, a GAZelle CITY can do with just one air recirculation unit, a Vector NEXT needs two while LiAZ buses have to have three or four depending on the modification. Some of these solutions may be used with trucks and specialty vehicles. For example, air recirculation units are now fitted to ambulance vans. In the near future, the «anti-viral» package will be integrated into mass production. A very small increase in the sale price will be outweighed by huge benefits for customers.
We realise that the pandemic is a problem that will not go away in a month or two. GAZ Group President Vadim Sorokin has said that according to experts, even after passing the peak of the disease we run a serious risk of seeing new outbreaks. The lockdown has led to fewer people using the public transport but it cannot be shutdown completely because that would paralyse the economic and social life in Russian cities, said Mr. Sorokin. We asked ourselves a question- what GAZ Group, which is Russia’s largest bus manufacturer, can do to make mass transit safer. Our idea is to create the safest possible environment in our buses that prevents the spread of various diseases. And it is not the virus only, but also any other pathogens like germs and bacteria as the number-one goal is to reduce the burden of the public health system in principle. It is all about cleaning the air, disinfecting hands and reducing passenger contact with potentially contaminated surfaces to bare minimum. We have already prepared changes to the design and configuration of all our buses from 17-seat GAZelles to LiAZ buses capable of carrying 150 passengers. Besides, we are thinking about adding more filters to the air conditioning system. Very soon we will be in a position to offer new vehicles to our customers.