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Some good news for Michigan.

New hybrid bus from Troy, Mich. firm will carry Fisher Body name

The legendary Fisher Body brand of automotive history is being resuscitated by a Troy firm that hopes its advanced, lightweight material unibody and diesel-electric hybrid system can revolutionize municipal transit bus fleets when it hits the market in 2009.

Fisher Coachworks LLC is using technology developed by Rochester Hills-based engineering firm Autokinetics under a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy's FreedomCAR initiative.

The company plans its formal unveiling and marketing push later this summer, and it says it's looking for a 50,000-square-foot manufacturing location in the Detroit area to begin pre-production development.

The company says it's rekindling the name of Fisher Body Co., the carriage and automotive body maker that formed in 1908 and later became a division of General Motors Corp. President and CEO Gregory Fisher is the grandson of one of Fisher Body's founders.
The heart of Fisher's technology involves a patented, stainless steel 40-foot unibody design and a series diesel-electric hybrid architecture that drives the bus roughly equally between electricity from batteries and regenerative braking and horsepower from a turbo-diesel engine in a range-extending charge mode.

The use of Nitronic stainless steel in the unibody results in a fully recyclable, stronger chassis at about half the weight of traditional bus platforms, the company says. Combined with the hybrid system, the company says the bus is capable of realizing fuel economy of 12-15 mpg, a roughly 300 percent improvement.
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