World’s First and Only Formula 1 Superbus Becoming Reality

Just over a year there was word of an intriguing vehicle that was described as a “Formula 1 Superbus”? Was this just hyperbole? Someone having a laugh at our expense? Or, was this thing for real?

Yes. It turns out that there is indeed a vehicle that could be described as a “Formula 1 Superbus” that was purchased for £7 million by a sheik in the United Arab Emirates last year. Paying that much money most mean that this thing is a beast, since this hi-tech bus means he will be able to complete the 75-mile commute from Dubai to  Abu Dhabi in under 30 minutes.

The world’s first so-called super bus can seat 23 passengers and has a top speed of 155mph (250kmh) and is made of lightweight materials including aluminum, carbon fiber, fiberglass and polycarbonate, with the following specifications:

Length: 49ft (15 meters)
Height: 5ft 5in (1.65 meters)
Breadth: 8ft (2 meters)
Top speed: 155mph (250kmh)
Seating: 23
Cost: £7 million

The midnight-blue, electric-powered vehicle also has eight gulling-style doors on each side to allow for a swift exit and can also be driven at normal speeds on normal roads.

It’s been said that the passengers comfort on the bus is equal to that of a luxury limousine or private jet.

The vehicle had been in development at Holland’s Delft University of Technology under the direction of Professor Wubbo Ockels, who in 1985 became the first Dutchman in space, and chief designer Antonia Terzi, a former aerodynamics expert at the BMW Williams Formula One team.

The project was backed eventually by the Dutch government, American chemicals company Dow and the Saudi conglomerate Sabic.

The first commercial interest came from the UAE, where the super bus arrived in a jumbo jet. It was tested for the first time on ordinary roads around Abu Dhabi Airport, its batteries juiced by solar power. Terzi, who was in the driver’s seat for the test run, said it drove ‘just like a car’, thanks to two sets of maneuverable rear wheels which helps it around corners.

After witnessing the bus in action, Abu Dhabi ’s traffic police chief Brigadier General Hussein al Harethi said: “Electrically-powered vehicles like this would not only alleviate traffic congestion but reduce air pollution. Electric vehicles are the transportation methods of today and we want to see more of them.”

Dubai Roads and Transport Authority director Peyman Younes Parham added that: “It’s a brilliant idea. It’s not something we could use as a public transportation vehicle but it would be a great driver for executive commuting and for tourism.”

Passengers outside of the UAE, such as Richard Branson, commented last fall that he thinks the Superbus could take on the train business one day, matching it for speed while trumping its convenience by dropping commuters off at their front door.

Ms. Terzi said that she hopes that someday: “Commuters would book online or with their mobile phone and one of a fleet of buses would pick them up and drop them wherever they wanted.”

She also stated that: “Public transport has to be exciting. You want to say ‘well, I have a car but today I’m going to take the Superbus instead.”

Ockels has said that he wanted to create something sexy, and something that makes you feel powerful when you are inside, but most of all something that could compete with the car.

He hopes to have the vehicle on roads within five years, the Netherlands by 2015 and with some interest from Las Vegas, his vision could easily become a reality. Even if it does look like the Batmobile, we’re still curious about the super bus.

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