MAN Truck & Bus

MAN eTGE der BVG fährt über eine Brücke.

How the E-TGE performs in service

17/06/2020

Conversion to alternative drives: Berlin's public transport service (Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe – BVG) is modernising its vehicle fleet and relying fully on e-mobility. The commercial e-vehicles introduced for the company's transport transformation have included five MAN eTGEs since the end of 2018. These electrically driven vans run exclusively on green electricity and are convincing in terms of cost-effectiveness and driving comfort.

Portrait of Daniel Dech from Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe during the eTGE practical test

"It drives very quietly and smoothly. The acceleration is clearly perceptible. I let the van cruise gently to a stop at traffic lights, thus recovering energy for the battery via recuperation". Berlin's public transport service (Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe – BVG) procured five of these battery-powered vans. Daniel Dech personally took the wheel during the test and delivery drives. "This e-vehicle is in no way inferior to the combustion engine in terms of driving dynamics," says Dech, clarifying a widespread prejudice against e-mobility.

Eco-friendly electric drives are a significant issue at BVG. "We want to be pioneers of e-mobility", says Heinrich Coenen, manager of the internal BVG fleet. "If we manage to convert the entire vehicle portfolio to sustainability, other large distribution and transport companies can do the same," he is confident. Heinrich Coenen is one of those responsible for e-mobility, digitisation and innovative energy management at BVG. The internal fleet he manages contains 400 vehicles. This includes different categories of van, like the five new MAN eTGEs. They are used as service vehicles – and also act as a testing ground for one hundred percent electrification of the entire BVG fleet. Coenen aims to have the internal fleet fully electrified by 2025. Then it is planned that the BVG bus fleet, currently around 1500 vehicles, will transport passengers exclusively by means of local, emission-free drive systems by 2030. Berlin is demonstrating how e-mobility can operate successfully in public transport.

Three MAN eTGE of Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG)

E-mobility is economical

Environmental protection in road traffic is also cost-effective. These electric vans from MAN are the ideal test beds for BVG Fleet Manager Heinrich Coenen to test the logistical and economic use of e-vehicles. "Our vans generally travel short distances and make lots of stops – so loading times and the required ranges are easy to plan. Besides, a lot of cold starts are required during operation, which cause particularly high emissions in the case of conventional drives," explains fleet manager Coenen. Deployment of the MAN eTGE therefore enables the advantages of e-mobility to be fully exploited. The benefits of e-vans include not only complete freedom from local emissions, but also the favourable operating cost structure due to green electricity. The procurement costs of an eTGE are amortised after a few years of use. "The break even point will be reached even sooner in future if e-vehicles are produced and sold in greater numbers", Coenen calculates. It is therefore clear to him: “Electric mobility pays off not only ecologically but also economically. I'm convinced of that."   

BVG has been deploying the MAN eTGE in the entire urban area of Berlin since 2018. The five vans are on the roads daily in two-shift operation. They transport company-internal mail or drive to stops, tracks and other locations for service and maintenance work. These service vans are equipped with rack systems in the cargo area to neatly and safely carry tools, spare parts and materials. MAN eTGEs are even used to transport tram and underground train axles to their destination. The 100 kW electric motor always provides sufficient electrical power: BVG basically installs a separate 11 kW AC charging station for each electric vehicle, so the battery can be charged immediately after each shift.

Portrait of Heinrich Coenen, Project manager Stabsabteilung Geschäftsentwicklung der Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG)

Greater driving comfort in a MAN eTGE

"We can cope well with a range of around 120 kilometres in urban operation", reports fleet administrator Daniel Dech. That is very important, since a stopover at a rapid charging station is often not possible. "Drivers want to park their vehicles directly at the site, so they don't have to carry tools and materials too far", says Dech.

The eco-friendly e-vans really come into their own in winter: "The advance air conditioning via the navigation system regulates the temperature even before starting. And we can run the air conditioning and engine without exhaust fumes and noise – even when stationary," states Daniel Dech. The interior of a MAN van also features high-quality materials.

BVG fleet manager Heinrich Coenen is meanwhile working to further improve the conditions for exploiting e-mobility. BVG, in collaboration with other companies like Berlin's power grid (Stromnetz Berlin) and the Berlin municipal cleaning service (Berliner Stadtreinigung – BSR), has launched the Smart eFleets research project. This involves the project partners jointly setting up car-sharing schemes and a network of rapid charging stations to enable commercial e-vehicles to be used at any time, even in periods of peak demand. Heinrich Coenen is also advancing energy management innovations at BVG. His objective is to coordinate the low-cost availability of green electricity with both e-fleet management and building management to ensure an optimum balance between eco-friendliness and cost efficiency.    

This fleet manager knows from experience: "Companies not only need to reorganise their vehicle portfolio, but also the way they work in order to consistently exploit the advantages of electric mobility". The age of sustainable solutions is emerging at BVG.

Text Felix Enzian
Photos Èriver Hijano

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