MAN Truck & Bus



Ferry broken down, charger out of order – what next? The bus needs to get to Limerick and a strong team will always find solutions. In this case, with the help of a freight ferry and a friendly Tesla driver named Didier. Here are the highlights! 

At the table The Lion’s City E shares its electric meal with a passenger car. There was no jealousy about food, but the MAN had to sit crosswise due to its length.  

Visit There is always something to talk about among e-mobilists. Didier is interested in the road trip in the e-bus, Heinrich has many stories ready.  


We’re a strong team

That’s the final straw! Today is the day when we need to prove what we’re really capable of. Our car ferry that was due to take us from Cherbourg to Wexford has broken down and is currently in dry dock. However, we wouldn’t be a strong team if we couldn’t find an alternative solution to that. This is what we have come up with: in Cherbourg, we’ll be loading the bus onto a freight ferry rather than a passenger ship. Our driver, Heinrich, has special permission to go with it, so he can keep an eye on our “crown jewels”. He will basically be “goods” for 12 hours. Meanwhile, the rest of the team piles into the support vehicle and heads some 500 kilometres southwest at breakneck speed to Roscoff in Brittany. From there, we will take a replacement ferry to Cork before dashing to Rosslare the following day to greet our bus and its driver with open arms. That’s not so difficult, is it?


Didier, our road trip rescuer

However, that was far from our only issue today! As if the ferry problem wasn’t enough of a challenge, the charging infrastructure in Rouen let us down too. Nothing happened, not a single electron made it into our bus. But once again, the strong team pulled it out of the bag, together with a new member: Didier Andrianary comes from Marville-Moutiers-Brûlé (that’s quite some name!), he has been driving a Tesla Model 3 since December 2021 and he was kind enough to let us share a charger at a discount supermarket. Our Lion’s City E sucked up around 58 kilowatts per hour. “My faith is important to me,” explains the helpful Frenchman. “I don’t believe in chance. It was fate that we should have met today in Rouen. It was meant to be.” There might be something in that, because Didier is a qualified electrician and maintenance manager, of all things. Any questions? 

This morning in Rouen is a perfect example of how there is still work to be done when it comes to the charging infrastructure in Europe. However, there’s no time to complain, we’re celebrating: Didier, you rescued our road trip! Cherbourg and Roscoff, here we come! 

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Day 8 A day of challenges and an honorary member for the Strong Team.


A Calvados to settle our nerves

But first, we’ll explore Normandy a little and take in some of the wonderfully salty sea air. The region has something to offer on a culinary front too. Alongside the ubiquitous oysters, there is delicious cider on every corner and the fantastic, amber-coloured apple brandy called Calvados. We visit an idyllic Calvados distillery for a chat with the owner about the production of his delicious brew and came away with a small bottle for the 12-hour sea crossing ahead of us this evening. It should be fun, or so we’ve heard. And anyway, after this nerve-wracking morning, we think we deserve it! 

Juicy green In spring, apple trees blossom everywhere in Normandy. In autumn, apple and cider festivals are celebrated in the region. 

Paradise for gourmets In addition to cider, calvados also comes from Normandy. The apple brandy is amber in color and has 40-45 percent alcohol.

Retreat Every now and then you see real gems along the way, like this farmhouse. Far from the big cities, life in Normandy is quiet and tranquil. 


Heinrich knows what’s happening

We have now covered more than 2000 kilometres. The bus is still running like clockwork. Despite some of our stages being over 400 kilometres long, we have never had to stop to charge during the day, although the manufacturer’s stated range is 350 kilometres. We’ve really put the bus through its paces too, with plenty of topographical challenges like the Julier Pass, the Vosges and at least 1000 kilometres at full throttle – in our case restricted to 84 km/h – on the motorways of Europe. How has it gone? Let’s ask Heinrich Degenhart, our driver. 


The driver needs to know his vehicle inside out

“The most important thing is that an e-bus driver is one with the electronics of his vehicle. He needs to know his vehicle inside out.” Unlike a bus with an internal combustion engine, an e-bus has 100 percent of its torque available at all times. The driver needs to know precisely how to use that torque intuitively. “Any time the driver oversteers by turning in too quickly, generating an unnecessarily high load value, leads to poor driving behaviour and results in excessively high energy consumption. Every driver needs to learn how to handle these special demands from the ground up.” Most public transport companies operating electric buses have set an energy consumption target of 1.3 to 1.5 kilowatt/hours per kilometre as an average over the course of the year. On our road trip, we have achieved 0.5 to 0.7 kilowatt/hours per kilometre, although we’re not running a scheduled service. We have also managed high levels of regeneration with a top bus driver at the wheel. We have shown that excellent energy consumption values are possible with a public bus, even on cross-country journeys. “A very good driver should be able to achieve 0.8 to 0.9 kilowatt/hours per kilometre. That’s the target that all drivers should be working towards”.

Done The team is waiting to be allowed to board the night ferry. The day was full of surprises, calvados and bunk calling.

Forest of masts In the port of Roscoff, the sails of the boats have been hauled in, and silence reigns except for the jingling of the masts. It is still too cool for balmy summer evenings on deck.

Loading Team and support vehicle must take a different route than Heinrich and the Lion's City E.


Bye Bye Bus – see you in Ireland

At around 16:00, it’s time to say goodbye to our now much-loved Lion’s City E and our equally loved “Gentle Heinrich”. We’ll see them again tomorrow in Rosslare, Ireland. When we finally board our ferry after an extremely busy and challenging day, everyone has a roguish grin on their face and a drop of Calvados in their glass. Cheers, Strong Team, à la vôtre – you’ve earned it! 

Text   Boris Pieritz
Photos   Lara Freiburger

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