MAN Truck & Bus


This is the future: MAN and VW drive ahead


The future of mobility has already arrived in Hamburg. Dr. Herbert Diess, Andreas Tostmann and Gunnar Kilian therefore joined a very special kind of sightseeing tour by the Elbe. The programme included innovative electrified and automated vehicles from MAN and VW that are already in service in Hamburg.

Three cars - one from MOIA Shuttles, one from WeShare and an e-bus from MAN stand side by side. The Elbphilharmonie stands out in the background.
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Ride into the future Hamburg is setting a good example - with VW on its side: MOIA shuttles, WeShare for electric car sharing, and e-buses from MAN are pointing the way to a climate-neutral future.

It is a sunny Monday morning in Bergedorf, south-eastern Hamburg. Dr. Herbert Diess, chairman of the board of Volkswagen AG, Andreas Tostmann, CEO of MAN Truck & Bus SE, and Gunnar Kilian, chief human resources officer of Volkswagen AG and also responsible for the "Truck & Bus" division on the Group Executive Board, have assembled and are waiting for their tour to begin. But why exactly are the board members from the VW Group meeting in the outskirts of Hamburg?
Quite simply because Hamburg is where many of the VW Group’s exciting future technologies are already being experienced or tested in everyday life. This Hanseatic city is considered to be the German pioneer for mobility of the future, especially when it comes to public transport.

"Hamburg is driving into the future in a climate-neutral way. We provide local support: with electric MAN buses, MOIA shuttles, and WeShare, our electric car-sharing service. E-buses in particular reduce noise and emissions in the city centers. Each e-bus in Hamburg saves up to 80 tons of CO2 a year and consistently benefits customers. Around 750,000 internal combustion buses, on average over 11 years old, are still operating in the EU," says Dr. Diess. "Now is the right time to replace them with electric vehicles. Hamburg is already thinking consistently in terms of the environment and the customer - a blueprint for other cities in Europe!" Today, they want to experience first-hand what has been achieved so far.

Potent due to synergies

The trio’s first port of call is the Verkehrsbetriebe Hamburg-Holstein (VHH) bus depot in Bergedorf – where MAN delivered the first of two battery-operated MAN Lion‘s City E at the end of 2019. VHH is currently taking delivery of 17 further fully-electric MAN buses from the series production started in October 2020. As part of a field trial, this electric fleet is already deployed in daily urban traffic and reliably transporting Hamburg residents from A to B.

"The future of urban mobility is electric. That's why we at MAN are fully committed to battery-electric vehicles for inner-city transport," Tostmann emphasizes as the group tours the VHH fleet with the 480-kWh batteries on the bus roofs together with VHH Managing Director Toralf Müller. Tostmann points out that MAN has been producing the Lion's City E in series since October 2020. "The demand is enormous. The innovative city bus is already in daily use in various European cities - including in the Hanseatic city at Verkehrsbetriebe Hamburg-Holstein (VHH)."

Volkswagen Executive Vice President Human Resources Gunnar Kilian, who is also responsible for the "Truck & Bus" business unit on the Group Executive Board, adds, "As a strong brand within the TRATON Group and the VW Group, MAN benefits from synergies within the Group in its consistent focus on future fields, including the sophisticated battery cell technology for the all-electric MAN Lion's City E city bus. What is once again evident here is also at the core of our strategy: things simply work better together!"
That goes down well. Müller explains why: "Designing an environmentally friendly, resource-conserving and high-performance public transport system in the Hamburg metropolitan region is the core task of VHH. Innovative vehicles are of fundamental importance in this. We therefore welcome the fact that the major German commercial vehicle manufacturers such as MAN Truck & Bus are now also entering the market with battery-powered buses ready for series production."

MAN customers seeking electric mobility solutions can also rely on MAN to bear in mind central issues like charging infrastructure, sustainability and digitisation. As if on cue, Florian Leunig, Head of Infrastructure VHH, gives an on-site demonstration of a charging process. Simple, straightforward and quick: charging the buses in the Bergedorf depot takes less than three hours.

A visit to the harbour

Theory is mostly dull, but the real reason for Dr. Diess, Tostmann and Kilian coming to Hamburg was to experience the future in action. So the three of them now board a MAN Lion‘s City E to reach the next stop on their innovation tour. Their journey takes them around 30 kilometres further west towards the harbour, to the Container Terminal Altenwerder (CTA). No problem for the e-bus: It can travel up to 270 kilometers before it has to be connected to the power supply again. "With the next generation of batteries, we want to significantly increase the range of the electric buses," notes Kilian. "By 2025, they should manage up to 400 kilometers, thanks in part to synergies within the Group." The gentlemen are visibly satisfied after the city route in the Lion`s City E. "What excited me?" asks Tostmann. "How quiet and comfortable the bus is, while also having a strong start and being very easy to drive. Next stop: the future."

After their safety check-in at one of the world’s most modern container terminals operated by Hamburg Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA), with its 1,400 metre long quay, the group is joined by HHLA CEO Angela Titzrath and CTA managing director Oliver Dux. All five visitors receive protective vests and helmets. They would be denied access without this equipment, because there’s no messing around here, just hard slog: the harbour in Hamburg handles millions of containers every year, as Titzrath and Dux explain in their introduction.

MAN has been here more frequently since 2018. At that time it was “cast off” for the “Hamburg TruckPilot” research and testing project, a significant milestone on MAN’s automation roadmap for developing hub-to-hub applications and simultaneously a sub-project in the mobility partnership between Volkswagen AG and the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. The future objective is for two prototype trucks with electronic automation systems to autonomously handle the loading and unloading within the CTA facility – entirely without drivers.

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the bus manages until it has to be connected to the power again


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are to be achieved by 2025 - thanks to the new generation of batteries


In the meantime, the preparation and test phase has been completed. Since September 2020, the project has been undergoing technical implementation on the CTA. The actual test drives are expected to take place in May 2021, and the project is to be presented at the ITS World Congress in Hamburg in October. But back to the present: The e-bus now takes visitors to the storage block where they want to experience the solution in action and comes to a stop right next to the MAN prototypes, both of which will soon be loaded with containers from logistics partner Weets in the upcoming field test.

A special premiere

The excitement is mounting, because an exclusive demonstration awaits the visitors: it is one of the first ever journeys on which the automated truck is to independently manoeuvre in the warehouse block. A safety driver is admittedly sitting in the driving position for legal reasons, but his hands will not be guiding the steering wheel nor will his foot touch the accelerator. Dr. Herbert Diess wants to observe the demonstration as closely as possible and climbs into the passenger seat. The door falls fully into the lock and the truck sets off.

Everything functions smoothly: The truck drives autonomously to the right aisle, then reverses automatically and comes to a halt in the right position, where the container is unloaded automatically later in the project. The truck then starts up again autonomously and returns to the group of visitors. Impressive!

The sightseeing tour is gradually coming to an end. A final journey through the Speicherstadt warehouse district in an MOIA shuttle – the VW ride-sharing service in Hamburg and Hanover – is something not to be missed – even if the service is not currently available for public operation by the Elbe due to the corona pandemic. Dr Carsten Intra, CEO of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, is responsible for MOIA and has joined them on board. Visibly proud, the former MAN board member for production and logistics presents “his” innovation. At the end of the day everyone agrees: Hamburg may well have enjoyed the title “Gateway to the world” for some time, yet hand in hand with the VW Group it is currently earning the additional title of “Gateway to the future”.

Text   MAN
Photos   Thies Rätzke, Wolfgang Köhler, Christian Bruch

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