MAN Truck & Bus
In any event, the municipal transport services in Sweden’s city of Uppsala intend to be prepared. Even before rising political pressure to reduce the emissions of its public bus services down to zero, Gamla Uppsala Buss (GUB) wishes to learn how the conversion from traditional diesel operations to e-mobility might succeed.
“At the outset, we encountered numerous enquiries as to how the implementation of electrification could be accomplished,” reports Alexander Adler from MAN Transport Solutions. He is part of the six-person team headed by Stefan Sahlmann and advises business organisations as how to future-proof their mobility-planning strategies. “Many customers already have a clear vision in mind – yet are quite concerned about how to reach their goals.”
So which preparations are needed in order to launch the services of the first electric bus? And how far must the internal organisational infrastructure be adapted to this end? Where and how should the charging of a specified number of buses take place and can the daily running performance target be reached even during the winter season, when the vehicles must also be heated? How will the conversion impact operational costs? Many questions must be answered.
“Initially, higher investments are required, including for the charging infrastructure and the necessary power supply,” explains the expert, Adler. For these measures ought to be undertaken for more than just the first vehicles to avoid the need for new conceptions with every additional public bus. “Our recommendation to the city of Uppsala was to gradually convert its bus fleet comprising roughly 150 vehicles to e-buses, starting with the operational launch of 12 to 20 vehicles equipped with electric drives,” says the industrial engineer.
To ensure that the switchover in Uppsala can proceed without a hitch, Adler and his colleagues work together with customer experts to thoroughly explore the local particularities. “We must consider the section route of every bus line to ensure that the e-bus can remain operational throughout an entire work day or one shift with merely one battery charge. We must therefore also pay attention to both route topography and passenger load averages for these vehicles – as well as the climatic conditions,” clarifies Alexander Adler. All these factors ultimately have an impact on the power consumption of vehicle operations.
“Most likely, the largest challenge for many transport organisations is the modification of their bus depots and service yards,” says Stefan Sahlmann, Head of MAN Transport Solutions. As e-buses usually need overnight charging in most urban areas to be ready for deployment the next morning, they require not only parking areas, but also charging stations. “To this end, necessary investments can easily reach sixty thousand to seventy thousand euros,” says Sahlmann. “Yet these are resources that do pay off in view of combining intelligent charging and power management, thus resulting in significantly lowered operations costs.”
Obviously, the most straightforward strategy is the construction of a completely new bus depot, which is currently underway in Uppsala. It involves not only the installation of charging stations, but rather incorporating the requirements of an e-based workshop as well – for the conversion to electric mobility also changes the service and maintenance processes for the vehicle fleet.
The largest challenge is the modification of bus depots.