Was the combination of electric and diesel just a stop on the road to electromobility? DAVID JENKINS examines the history of hybrids

Transport for London officially launched its first hybrid buses in November 2008. On display at Horse Guards Parade are Volvo B5LH/Wright Gemini WVH39205 (LK58 ECX) of First, Metroline Alexander Dennis Enviro400H TEH918 (LK58 CPU) Optare Excel (YJ08 PGO) and an unregistered Volvo B5LH of Arriva, all bearing the leaf-based branding initially used for hybrid buses.

The benefit of hindsight has often been applied to what was seen as cutting-edge technology at the time. The desire to reduce emissions from buses is one where we are still not in a mature market, and it is not yet clear whether battery electrics will dominate as they do now, or whether hydrogen will catch up, and perhaps even become the fuel of choice.

In the meantime, and despite around 5,000 such buses having been delivered in the UK since 2005 – but none since 2020 – the hybrid drivetrain looks as though it will become a mere footnote, certainly outside London.

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