Azure Dynamics' Balance Hybrid Electric shuttle buses have been certified through rigorous "Altoona" testing, making the vehicles eligible for federal financial assistance for public transit agencies.

The shuttles feature Azure's powertrain that sits on a Ford E-450 van platform.

The Altoona Bus Research and Testing Center in Altoona, Pa., subjects vehicles to an accelerated seven-year, 200,000-mile cycle using real-world road conditions over the span of a few months. The Altoona test demonstrates the ability of the Balance shuttle to withstand the rigors of operating in a demanding urban-transit-bus environment.

Altoona testing and certification is part of the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) New Model Bus Testing Program, which is designed to promote the production of better transit vehicles and components and to ensure that transit customers purchase safe vehicles able to withstand the rigors of transit service. The Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute operates the Altoona testing center.

The newly certified Ford E-450 shuttle buses built with Azure Dynamics' Balance Hybrid Electric drivetrain system now qualify for FTA programs that offer up to 80 percent funding when purchased by public transit agencies across the United States. In addition to FTA funding, the company's shuttle line may qualify for up to a $3,000 U.S. federal tax credit and/or numerous individual state and agency programs.

The new shuttle line cuts fuel consumption by up to 40 percent and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than 30 percent, according to Azure Dynamics. In addition, the firm's hybrid technology can reduce vehicle maintenance costs by 30 percent, thereby further reducing overall fleet operating costs, according to the company.