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22 Oct 2015


During a session of Busworld Academy it was said that any form of alternative drives has its place in the market. Especially for electric drives, the development of a standard protocol for charging systems was pleaded for. Only when the necessary initiatives are set up in this respect, electric vehicles can be optimally ordered and deployed by different transport companies.

“In the future, bus manufacturers should no longer promote themselves as providers of buses and coaches, but as suppliers of mobility solutions,” Eduard Jobson (Volvo Bus) states. “Our sector is confronted with rapid changes regarding city mobility, high-quality service provision and quality of life in the cities. It is our job to offer a solution to all of these issues. Furthermore, we have to dare ask ourselves a number of justified questions about the usability of self-driving vehicles and high-capacity vehicles for example. And why not consider silent buses too? For these buses, we have to decide whether they will indirectly be causing more accidents or not. Regarding alternative drives we are now increasingly focussing on a future-oriented e-mobility. In this respect, we are already cooperating with Siemens and ABB.” “Each of the different alternative fuels has its own place in the transport network,” Peter Wouters (VDL) explained. “In city centres we strive for 100% zero emissions and to that end we are constructing full electric buses. In a suburban environment we want to deploy hybrid, low-emission vehicles. A specific example of that is the diesel hybrid Citea

SLF120 for De Lijn (Flanders) which accelerates electrically for the first 200 metres after leaving a bus stop and which can drive up to 10 km electrically in city centres before having to switch to diesel. With this concept, we were able to reduce the diesel use by 30% and the noise level at the bus stops has dropped below 70 dBa. For regional buses, we should be opting for efficient and economical low-weight buses; in the long term we can even use hydrogen buses for this.” Peter Wouters ended his speech with a clear call for standardisation of the charging systems for electric buses. “We should compose an e-team and work on a standard protocol for bus companies and carriers, so vehicles can be deployed everywhere in the most optimised way.”


Reliable battery determines success


Isbrand Ho (BYD) stressed that the success of electric buses is determined by the reliability and the right choice of batteries. “Batteries are our core business and we need to make sure that the lithium composition makes sense from a chemical point of view. The past years, the battery capacity increased by 10% on an annual basis thanks to extensive research. Now, our batteries are still generating 75% of their energy after 10 years. An optimal yield in all climatological circumstances is of the utmost importance.”

During the meeting of Busworld Academy, Thomas Tonger (Daimler Buses) also mentioned that Mercedes-Benz, in the framework of its Citaro e-mobility-platform, will be launching an electric e-cell and fuel cell bus before the end of this decade. Regarding alternative drives, he thinks that the action radius of the vehicles should also be taken into account. With a full diesel tank, a city bus can cover around 740 km, with the available e-cell systems this would only be 60 km. CNG and fuel cell buses could cover 350 and 530 km respectively.

For Scania’s Urban Löfvenberg the solution for a commercially viable bus system is more in bio fuels such as bio ethanol, bio diesel and bio gas. “Electricity is a good solution, but we also have to ask ourselves where and how sustainable it is produced.”