New Fuel-Cell Bus With Electric Drive System

A new double-decker bus with fuel cell drive by British bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis Ltd. will feature an electric portal axle AxTrax AVE by ZF Friedrichshafen.

ZF Friedrichshafen is supplying its AxTrax AVE electric portal axle for the new double-decker bus with fuel cell drive by British bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis Ltd. (ADL). 

Fredrik Staedtler, head of ZF’s Commercial Vehicle Technology Division, said that ZF is delighted that ADL has placed its trust in the AxTrax AVE electric drive solution, and added: “ZF has simplified the process of electrifying vehicle platforms for the manufacturer while making an important contribution toward keeping city center mobility solutions free from emissions.”

The new fuel-cell bus designed by ADL is based on the company’s Enviro400 product line. The fuel cell configuration comprises a secure system that uses hydrogen to generate electricity, which, in turn, drives two electric wheel-hub motors in the electric portal axle. The driveline does not emit hazardous emissions in the atmosphere but only steam. 

The new double-decker bus has completed field testing, during which the prototype operated along real bus routes in several cities throughout the United Kingdom. ADL reported that the fuel-cell Enviro400 design showed an outstanding efficiency. 

For this project, partner ZF supplied the AxTrax AVE electric portal axle, the inverter, the EST 54 electronic control unit and the control software. ZF said that this system solution helped reduce the test and homologation costs for ADL. 

The electric drive axle by ZF – that was first introduced in 2012 – can be used in many different applications and be operated by a fuel cell configuration, an hybrid solution or a purely electric drive with lithium-ion batteries.

The AxTrax AVE electric portal axle manages a total of 250 kW power with a maximum axle load of 13 000 kg. It is compact and leaves the bus manufacturers more freedom to design the passenger area, as no conventional unit or universally-jointed shaft is necessary for transmitting power.

The prototype of the new fuel cell double-decker has been already presented to the public and to several fleet operators by ADL.

In the field of electric and autonomous mobility, ZF also recently announced a partnership with Transdev, and e.GO to develop a new shared mobility solution.

The project involves integrating the autonomous driven e.GO Mover shuttle – a fully electric, connected and automated shuttle vehicle – with the global Autonomous Transport System (ATS) operating system by Transdev, an operator and global integrator of mobility.

ZF is equipping the Mover shuttle with electric drive systems; steering systems; brakes; sensors; and its ProAI central computer using artificial intelligence, to enable the automated driving functions.

The three partners said they will start working together immediately to provide a fully functional solution by 2020, with priority markets in France and Germany.