MAN Truck & Bus

Next stop: the future


Hamburg is one of the German pioneers in mobility of the future, particularly in local public transport. The MAN Lion’s City E has been paving the way for the age of electric buses since December. A report from the delivery of the first two electric buses for everyday use.

It is all about sustainable transport solutions that enable residents to leave their car at home.

Dr. Peter Tschentscher, First Mayor of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg

A sunny December morning in the Hafencity quarter of Hamburg. Ships sound their horns on the Elbe, seagulls circle over a crowd of curious tourists who are taking photos of the veiled buses. Following a press conference attended by prominent figures, the 100 guests make their way to the gates of the Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg. Fireworks and then the giants are revealed: futuristic buses, parked in front of the historic red-brick buildings in the Speicherstadt quarter. Now they gleam in the light. Two MAN Lion’s City E, the new vehicles for Hamburg residents that will gently hum emission-free around the city. 

Hamburg is a German pioneer in sustainable concepts for mobility – even before Berlin, Munich or Cologne. “The city was the first to introduce a clean concept and seek invitations to tender at an early stage”, states Rudi Kuchta, Head of Business Unit Bus at MAN Truck & Bus. The government also received the coveted grant from the Federal Ministry of Transport for the purchase of the first MAN Lion’s City E. In addition to the two field test buses for Hamburg Hochbahn and the Hamburg-Holstein transport operators (VHH), a further 17 models will be delivered to VHH by the end of 2020 – the first eBus order for MAN. The north is now gaining important practical experience that will benefit other cities in the development of sustainable bus transport.

“Cities like Hamburg that want to make progress in modern mobility need good, strong industrial partners: Reliable, innovative and equipped with state-of-the-art technology”, states the First Mayor, Dr. Peter Tschentscher. “That's why we are very interested in MAN.” The Hamburg residents can be happy when it comes to noise and air: The Hamburg Senate has promised that only emission-free buses are to travel around the city by 2030.

The E-Lion is conquering cities

The bus handover in Hamburg is the first step for MAN: a further 13 vehicles are to be put into practical use in five European countries over the next few months. The series production of electric buses will start in the Polish plant in Starachowice from October 2020.

Comprehensive charging concepts for the future

A highlight of the day is the journey from the Hafencity quarter of Hamburg to the VHH depot. This is not only where the buses are charged but also home to the second-use energy storage device. A joint project between MAN, VHH and the Volkswagen Group, where for example, used batteries are tested under real operating conditions to monitor their behaviour after initial use in vehicles and as a stationary energy storage device.

On the trip, Stefan Sahlmann, Industrial Engineer and Head of MAN Transport Solutions, explained the smart charging concept. The heart of the MAN Lion’s E is sat on the roof. A reliable lithium-ion battery (six packs each weighing 500 kilos) was safely installed there and has a lifetime of around six years. “The battery in the bus only needs to be changed once in its lifetime,” states Stefan Sahlmann.

Under his direction, the battery energy storage device made up of used batteries, built by the cooperation partners in Hamburg-Bergedorf. The container currently contains 50 batteries that were previously installed in VW Passat GTE cars – used bus batteries are also intended to find their secondary used in this way in the future. Like all electric vehicles, the MAN Lion’s City E uses energy recovery, explains Stefan Sahlmann. This means that the electric motor on the bus acts as a brake and is used in turn as a generator to store energy in the battery. The buses can travel 270 kilometres under favourable conditions.”

The MAN Lion’s City E offers many advantages:

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Electric mobility in Hamburg This was the theme behind the celebratory handover of the first MAN Lion’s City E in Speicherstadt quarter Hamburg.

New lifestyle thanks to a futuristic design

At the wheel on this day is Collin Jacobs who has been carrying passengers for 30 years and is delighted with the innovative technology. He particularly loves the clearly arranged cockpit. “Experiencing first hand the impact that my driving behaviour has on the consumption also inspires me to drive in a more sustainable manner”, he states. Bold decisions for bus lanes and traffic light controls through the acceleration program will help to avoid traffic congestion in the future. In the near future, it will also be possible to retrofit electric buses with further assistance systems and ensure even more safety in road traffic.

On arriving at the depot in Hamburg-Bergedorf, visitors are warmed up by a round of non-alcoholic mulled wine. The gigantic battery storage device is located behind the buses and charging stations: here, the 50 used batteries store a capacity of 495 kilowatts. The batteries are mounted on so-called racks and then interconnected to create a large battery by means of battery management. One goal of the project is to develop a flexible battery storage concept to permit the replacement of the batteries. Different scenarios for this are being tested with the large storage device in order to optimise the performance benefits at the VHH depot in Bergedorf. In addition, the project partners anticipate findings on the ageing behaviour of the batteries and on efficient battery management as well as on the life cycles of future battery technologies.

The fact that mobility in tomorrow's world will not only involve innovative drive technology but also a new lifestyle is also confirmed by Henrik Falk. The Chairman of Hamburg Hochbahn also cites his team in this respect who commented on the initial test drives with the following words: “The driving experience is simply brilliant. Also for passengers thanks to significantly more space and new lighting technology.”

Visions for the future: small autonomous buses

Rudi Kuchta already has visions for the future because MAN is already carrying out research on this. “Topics like autonomous driving are certainly very exciting and the first serious trials without drivers will soon be realistic”, states Rudi Kuchta. Buses may be smaller and autonomous in the future. Electric of course, but also alternative drives based on hydrogen technology are possible options.

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