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Why public transport operators are converting to electric mobility


Hundreds of thousands of diesel buses with outdated technology are still operating on European roads. Yet at the same time the number of e-buses is substantially increasing. It’s no surprise that electric mobility is on the up and up. The calls for sustainable mobility are after all becoming ever louder. With the fully electric Lion's City E and an overall concept with holistic eMobility consulting, MAN offers the right solution for the urban transport of the future.

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Emission-free into the future MAN Transport Solutions offers holistic, individual advice on switching to electromobility.

Electric mobility is electrifying more and more people. This is clearly shown by the growing e-car registration numbers. Yet e-mobility is no longer just increasing in private transport. Public transport is also seeing ever more operators relying on e-vehicles, as revealed by current figures from the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA). Based on bus registration numbers, this association reports that sales of electric buses in the European Union in 2020 increased by 18.4 per cent compared to 2019. The proportion with diesel engines conversely declined by almost ten per cent (source: ACEA report “Buses by Fuel Type Full-Year 2020”, 30 March 2021). “The total European electric bus market included over 2,000 vehicles last year. And the trend is clearly rising”, says Rudi Kuchta, Head of the Bus Business Unit at MAN Truck & Bus. His conclusion: “We’re assuming that half of all new MAN urban buses will have alternative drives by 2025.”

Yet despite the rising e-bus figures, the diesel bus is still by far the one that is most frequently deployed on EU roads. ACEA suggests that in 2019 there were over 690,000 buses with an average age of 11.7 years – 94.5 per cent of which were diesel, only 0.6 per cent pure electric (source: ACEA report “Vehicles in Use Europe”, January 2021). “The figures and our experience show that electric mobility has the wind in its sails. At the same time they also highlight the massive potential it has yet to unveil. Replacing diesel buses using outdated technology with modern electric buses would make a huge contribution to reducing CO2 emissions”, Kuchta says and adds: “That’s a key component in tackling climate change.” Since in comparison to a diesel bus travelling around 50,000 to 60,000 kilometres a year and consuming 36 to 49 litres per 100 kilometres depending on deployment, topography and vehicle version – an electric bus locally travelling emission-free would save around 60 to 80 tons of CO2 a year assuming the current electricity mix.

Ein Bus mit der Aufschrift „elexity Hamburg fährt elektrisch“ fährt auf einer Straße vor großen Gebäuden.
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Hamburg as example Here, the electric giants have been part of the cityscape for a year now. Since 2020, the city of Hamburg's transport authority has been procuring only locally emission-free, battery-powered buses.

Greater climate protection is possible

The bus is already considered to be the most eco-friendly and cost-effective means of transport. Although public transport operators and local authorities have it in their own hands to reduce CO2 emissions even further and thus contribute to climate protection. The European Union has also recognised this and adopted the “Clean Vehicle Directive”. This stipulates binding emission standards for local authority fleets – it has been in force since August 2021. Towns and cities must therefore change course towards emission-free mobility. The aim: moving from “low emission” to “no emission”. “More and more public transport companies have grasped this and are relying solely on battery-powered urban buses for new purchases. Or they’re defining clear deadlines for converting their entire fleet to zero-emission drives”, Kuchta reports. One example of this is the Verkehrsbetriebe Hamburg-Holstein (Hamburg-Holstein transport companies – VHH), who have exclusively been procuring locally emission-free, battery-operated buses since 2020. Their objective is to largely convert their entire bus fleet to emission-free drives by 2030.

MAN Truck & Bus is offering an overall concept that combines holistic e-mobility consultancy with customised, trendsetting solutions to provide the best possible assistance to transport companies on their path to emission-free mobility. Because MAN also sees the future of urban mobility as electric. “We’re convinced that electric mobility is the key technology for the commercial transport of the future. That’s why we and our customers are continuously advancing the technologies and progressing in this field”, Rudi Kuchta asserts. The main focus here is the MAN Lion’s City E as a fully electric solution for public transport.

The MAN Lion’s City E has for many months been demonstrating the outstanding way in which it masters urban traffic and the uncomplicated manner in which it can be integrated into existing procedures in ever more towns and cities across Europe. In an electric bus test run conducted by MAN in May this year in Munich, it also overcame the 550-kilometre mark under realistic everyday conditions with just one battery charge. “The issue of range has always been a significant aspect for our customers. Because the ultimate intention is that in future only one electric vehicle will be travelling on routes that were previously served by a single combustion-engine vehicle. The MAN Efficiency Run was an opportunity for our electric bus to prove that electric mobility is already suitable for everyday use”, Kuchta emphasises. Even with a realistic range of “only” 400 kilometres in real-life situations, the fact remains that 98 per cent of the routes served by MAN customers could be covered without intermediate charging. And this charging would take place in the depot – with the advantage of obviating the need for operators to invest in additional charging infrastructure throughout urban regions.

„We’re assuming that half of all new MAN urban buses will have alternative drives by 2025.”“

Rudi Kuchta 
Head of the Bus Business Unit at MAN

Eine Hand die ein Ladekabel hält, das mit dem MAN Lion’s City E verbunden ist.
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Praktisch Seit Neuestem bietet MAN zwei Batterienutzungsstrategien für den MAN Lion’s City E an. So wird der Einsatz des E-Busses optimal an die Bedürfnisse der ÖPNV-Betreiber angepasst.

The right use strategy

Every town and city is different: whereas some might seem to enjoy a slower pace of life, in others there is constant hustle and bustle. Roads are narrower or wider, people live in more dense conditions or further apart from each other. Many of these features have significant impacts on local public transport. Whether the network is distributed or more dense, the distances between stops larger or smaller and the length of the individual routes – all these aspects depend on the urban structure, the nature of the outskirts and how many people live and work in the urban environment.

“These are precisely the reasons why we’re now providing two battery use strategies relating to our MAN Lion’s City E. Operators can therefore perfectly adapt their e-bus to their individual deployment needs”, says Heinz Kiess, Head of Bus Product Marketing at MAN. “In addition to the familiar ‘reliable range’ use strategy, with immediate effect we’re also offering our customers an alternative for them to achieve maximum daily ranges.”

The “reliable range” battery use strategy is ideal for public transport operators who require a constantly reliable range during the entire deployment of their fully-electric buses. Because it has a limited charging window of 65 per cent that offers adequate reserves. It therefore guarantees a constantly similar range over a deployment of up to 270 kilometres under favourable conditions. “Although the ‘maximum range’ strategy now provides an ideal alternative for those who deploy an electric bus on longer routes”, Kiess declares. A charging window extended to 80 per cent enables more energy to be extracted per charge and this in turn increases the daily range subject to situation. Operators therefore benefit from greater flexibility in service, which is also advantageous in the event of extreme temperatures or diversions. Because the range achieved with the “maximum range” strategy is up to 350 kilometres given 384 kWh of usable energy (or 512 kWh in the case of the Lion’s City 18 E). In comparison, the “reliable range” strategy means that up to 312 kWh (or 416 kWh in the case of the Lion’s City 18 E) of the installed battery capacity is constantly available.

Ein Mann steht vor dem Lion’s City 12 E und lächelt einen anderen Mann am Bürotisch an.
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Helpful service The experts at MAN Transport Solutions are on hand to offer customers help and advice on the subject of battery protection strategy.

Services for electric fleets

MAN has developed its MAN eManager to make a fleet managers daily tasks more transparent, simpler and more efficient. It is a centralised, digital tool for efficient charge management. MAN eManager was already being used in some initial field trials, now this remote service is available in two new versions via TRATON’s RIO cloud-based platform: as MAN eManager S with basic functionalities and as MAN eManager M with an extended set of product functionalities, each bookable via MAN Marketplace. Both options provide extensive features and assistance in relation to charging and a vehicle’s energy consumption.

Experts from MAN Transport Solutions also provide consultancy to customers to assist with decision-making regarding a suitable battery use strategy. This is based among other things on the relevant ranges and individual energy consumption calculations. Detailed route and deployment analyses are also used to further optimise deployments of the MAN Lion’s City E. “Our objective is to provide customers with the best possible support regarding their daily activities – whether via customised solutions, individual consultancy services or new technologies”, is how Rudi Kuchta from MAN puts it.

Interaktives Bild zum Erkunden des MAN Lion’s City E.
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Battery packs

This is where the batteries of the electric bus are located. They are located outside the crash-prone rear area on the roof, making them easily accessible and simple to maintain. The elimination of an engine tower also allows for a continuous bench seat in the rear and thus up to four additional seats.

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Air conditioning with heat pump

With the help of the heat pump, the temperature of the E-bus can be optimised for range and sustainability: Instead of using battery power, a large part of the heating energy is drawn from the ambient air.

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Battery cooler

The battery cooler keeps the battery in an optimum temperature range. The battery must not get hotter than 40 degrees Celsius.

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Inverter

An electrical device that converts direct current into alternating current. The alternating current generated is used to operate the electric motor.

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Battery packs

This is where the batteries of the electric bus are located. They are located outside the crash-prone rear area on the roof, making them easily accessible and simple to maintain. The elimination of an engine tower also allows for a continuous bench seat in the rear and thus up to four additional seats.

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Central engine

Reliable and easy to maintain: for the drive in its Lion's City E, MAN relies on a quiet, electric central motor on the rear axle.

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Auxiliary heater

Provides warmth on cold days. In order not to reduce the range of the buses by operating the heater, the auxiliary heater is operated with alternative fuels.

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Low-floor portal axle

In order to enable a continuous low passenger floor in the bus interior, lower portal axles are used on the rear axles.

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Charging socket

The battery of the bus is charged via the charging socket.

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Front axle with independent suspension

Thanks to the independent suspension, the bus is easier and more precise to steer. The increased wheel angle results in optimal manoeuvrability of the vehicle.

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Sophisticated technology the MAN Lion's City E is packed with know-how and smart technologies.

Text   Felix Enzian
Photos   MAN

#Electromobility#Bus#LionsCityE#AlternativeDrives

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