Electric Buses Dominate Busworld

By Ian Cameron

Ian Cameron is NPP senior editor and filed this report from Busworld.

The recent Busworld trade show in Belgium again proved to be a magnet for operators within the industry attracting a variety of new vehicles and technologies.  The Belgian bus show is moving on to a venue in Brussels for the next show in 2019 from its long-time home, Kortrijk.

Some of the highlights of Busworld 2017 include the following.

Polish bus-builder Solaris used Busworld to take the wraps off three new vehicles – the Urbino 18 electric, the Urbino 12 with a serial hybrid drive and the Urbino 10.5.  Solaris debuted the fourth generation Urbino 18 electric. Until now the new generation articulated bus variant has only been available with a diesel engine.

The new 18-meter bus has Solaris High Energy 240 kWh batteries, a TSA 240 kW (four pole) traction motor, axles from ZF and has a 140 passenger capacity. The first sales of the new bus have already been made to with MPK in Kraków, Poland which bought 20 buses.

The new Solaris Urbino 18, one of several new models announced by the company.

Scania unveiled the latest addition to its range of buses and coaches – the hybrid Scania Interlink Low Decker.  With the hybrid addition the Swedish company said it “now meets the entire scope of alternatives for suburban and inter-city operations.”  The Scania Interlink LD is presently available for diesel, biodiesel, HVO, compressed natural gas/compressed biogas (CNG/CBG), ethanol and, with the latest addition, hybrid.

A highlight on the stand of Chinese builder BYD was the premiere of the company’s new low floor, European specification, electric Midibus which can carry 58 passengers (22 seated). The 200 km range (on a single charge) Midibus has two 90 kW electric motors and the battery pack can be fully charged in two hours, Shenzen-based BYD said. Also on show by BYD was the 12 meter  electric ebus – the first BYD vehicle to be 100% built by the company in Europe.  The bus is built at its 66000 m2 plant in Komarom, northern Hungary. BYD also has a facility in Beauvais, France. Previously its buses were imported from China or, in the case of the UK, built in partnership with UK bus maker Alexander Dennis.   The ebus range comprises the Midibus, above, 10.2, 10.8 and 12 meter single deckers an 18 meter artic and double deckers. All versions have 90-passenger capacities.

The Mercedes-Benz Citaro hybrid debuted at Busworld.  The hybrid powertrain is optionally available for a large number of model variants of the urban bus, even for the gas-engined Citaro NGT. Together with the new electrohydraulic steering, the Citaro hybrid further reduces the fuel consumption of the Citaro by up to 8.5%, according to the company.  The hybrid drive is available as optional equipment for all Citaro models in conjunction with the Mercedes-Benz OM 936 G in-line six-cylinder diesel engine in both vertical and horizontal versions. The hybrid drive is also available for the Citaro NGT with the M 936 G gas engine.

According to Mercedes-Benz the combination of gas engine and hybrid drive is “rarely found” anywhere in the world, yet the low environmental impact of the gas engine makes this an attractive option, the company said. The hybrid drive can be ordered for both the Citaro NGT rigid bus and the Citaro G NGT articulated bus.

The hybrid drive for the Citaro is compatible with the automatic transmissions from ZF and Voith. The only models for which hybrid drive is not available are Citaro buses fitted with the Mercedes-Benz OM 470 diesel engine due to a lack of installation space, as well as the high-capacity buses in the CapaCity series for the same reason.

Volvo Buses launched a new version of its all-electric bus, the Volvo 7900 Electric with extended battery capacity available with a choice of 150, 200 and 250 kWh. The company said it has also expanded the range of options regarding how the batteries are charged. The batteries can, as currently available, be fast charged at the route’s end stops or also via cable CCS, the European standard for charging of electric vehicles from the mains grid.  The twin-axle, 12-meter bus also features a Volvo RFS-L front axle and a ZF AV133 rear axle and has a Volvo two speed transmission.

Netherlands-based bus builder VDL announced that it has won an additional order for five 80-passenger capacity Citea SLF-120/electric buses from the German public transport company Stadtwerke Münster. The vehicles will be fitted with a 180 kWh battery pack and will be equipped with a Siemens central motor.

Cummins showcased an electrified powertrain configurable for either a full battery electric vehicle (BEV) or a range extended electric vehicle (REEV) combining battery power with a compact engine-generator. Cummins said the electrified system is suited for integration into city, intercity and airport buses with a high-efficiency traction motor providing direct drive with continuous acceleration and quiet operation.  Cummins proprietary control technology extends the zero-emissions bus range by optimally managing subsystems to maintain a sufficient battery state-of-charge for longer, the company said.

Enhanced energy storage for the BEV and REEV system is achieved with a high-density battery enclosure, designed by Cummins in a modular format for both on-roof and chassis integration into existing bus designs.   Operational flexibility is improved with fast recharge capability using an integral plug-in connection, as well as options for on-route opportunity charging where a pantograph or charge plate infrastructure is available.

The standard-size Cummins battery enclosure provides a 70 kWh storage capability with up to eight enclosure units (560-kWh) integrated within the BEV bus. This enables a zero-emissions range of up to 360 km (224 miles) on a single charge, with an energy consumption of 9 liters/100 km diesel equivalent (30 mpg) bringing a major reduction in operating costs, said Cummins.

A Cummins REEV system specified with a battery pack of 3 enclosures (210-kWh) provides a zero-emissions range of up to 135 km (84 miles). When the battery pack depletes to a low state-of-charge, the REEV system brings online a 120 kW engine-generator to recharge the batteries and continue operations with ultra-low emissions capability.

French companies Alstom and NTL displayed their new Aptis vehicle which the former said is “inspired by the tram.”   Based on Alstom and NTL’s expertise in vehicles on tires, axles, motors and traction systems, Alstom said the 100% electric Aptis “incorporates the advantages of a tram to enhance both passenger experience and operation.” This is the first time for both companies to diversify into a non-rail product.  Aptis has four steerable wheels with batteries and power systems located on the roof and the wheels at both ends with no overhangs. Aptis can be charged either by slow depot charging at night or five minute charging during operation at each end of the route. As well as the French market, Alstom and NTL intend to target the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Spain, markets which, it said, are leading the way in electric mobility solutions.

ABB presented new offerings for charging electric buses and trucks. The first is the ABB HVC-Opportunity Charging product which offers high power charging via an automated rooftop connection. ABB said it offers typical charge times of three to six minutes and the system can be integrated in existing operations by installing chargers at endpoints, terminals and intermediate stops.  ABB said the charger offers a solution for opportunity charging ensuring zero emission public transport during the day without impacting on the normal operation of the route.

Secondly ABB presented its Overnight Charging product which it said offers a cost-effective solution to charge larger fleets of electric buses and trucks during the night, ensuring zero emission daylight transportation.

Spanish builder Irizar premiered its articulated 18 meter Irizar ie Tram electric vehicle which has a 155-passenger capacity. The vehicle features an Alconza permanent magnet synchronous motor with 230 kW capacity.

For a look at the diesel and gaseous-fueled buses introduced at Busworld, see www.dieselprogress.com

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