MAN Truck & Bus

A bus driver in the cab of a MAN E-bus.

A major test for our new e-bus


Experts in Bonn were able for the first time to submit the MAN Lion’s City 12E to rigorous testing. Their verdict: its performance is convincing across the board. A report on the e-bus test, which is unique in Europe.

The Lion's City 12E stands with other e-buses in a bus parking lot.
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Strong field Apart from the Lion's City 12E, six other e-buses and two test vehicles also took part in the competition. 

A long row of buses were parked this Thursday morning at the end of November alongside the low workshop building in the middle of the Stadtwerke Bonn bus depot. Not an unusual event for a bus depot. But these buses are something special. The nine vehicles are the latest generation of electric buses from the product ranges of the most important manufacturers. The reason for this special parade: for the third time in Bonn, trade magazine "Omnibusspiegel" is organising an e-bus test that is unique across Europe. Professional drivers and trade journalists from five countries will put the current models through their paces over five days. The MAN Lion's City 12E is among the models being tested.

"All of us here are greatly looking forward to it", says Kirsten Krämer, Editor of "Omnibusspiegel" and one of the event organisers. After all, this is the first time a MAN bus has been involved in a journalists' test. "Our event is therefore the first opportunity for the experts to really examine it in detail", states Krämer. She is standing between the e-buses on the parking lot, a clipboard with route lists in hand, and guides the test drivers to their buses. It is cold, just over 0 degrees. Krämer is nevertheless pleased about the weather: "It will even allow us to check that the batteries have sufficient power for heating and how that affects consumption."

Once all colleagues have been distributed, bus expert Krämer gets behind the wheel herself. She has already tested the MAN Lion's City – as a driver and passenger. Her verdict: "The bus makes a very good overall impression and its driving performance is just right. What I particularly like: the batteries are on the roof and the engine housing has been removed. This creates more space and comfort and also shows that the concept has been consistently thought through – not simply turning a diesel into an electric vehicle by replacing the engine with batteries.

A bus with the rear open (empty) - this is where the engine would normally be placed.
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Hood up There would normally be an engine here! But this means the e-bus has more space. The batteries are actually located on the roof.

An assessment that pleases Isabel Jeschek – also because it is not just an individual opinion. "We have received positive feedback from almost all test drivers so far", says Jeschek, who is the Launch Manager responsible for the MAN Lion's City 12E. She sits in the electric lion's passenger compartment and rides the demanding course for the umpteenth time. The route is around 19 kilometres long and runs through dense city traffic and narrow suburban roads, over country roads and motorways. This enables the test drivers to realistically assess consumption and driving behaviour on scheduled routes. Stops at bus stops are also part of the programme. Sometimes passengers even want to climb aboard. Jeschek kindly draws their attention to the test series being conducted outside the regular public transport system. Meanwhile Maximilian Huber, development engineer at MAN, looks over the shoulders of the test drivers and meticulously notes every comment. "This feedback is valuable for us", says Huber. "We will certainly incorporate some of this into further development before the e-bus goes into series production." The best suggestions, explains Huber, come from professional bus drivers.

One of them is Franz Kleinmeyer, who works for Stadtwerke Bonn. As a tester, he pays particular attention to whether the driving behaviour of a bus is suitable for everyday use. "Some manufacturers advertise the fact that their e-buses drive faster than a Porsche. But what good is that if all the passengers are stuck to the rear window", asks Kleinmeyer as he routinely manoeuvres through the morning stop-and-go traffic on one of Bonn's main traffic arteries. "What matters to me is that the tuning is good, nothing jerks and jolts when starting off and braking. The passengers should feel safe."

Trade journalists like Thorsten Wagner consider other aspects to be important. In the past few days Wagner has driven almost all the test models and is still enthusiastic about the test event. "Driving nine brand-new electric buses in five days and making a direct comparison – you can't do that anywhere else", he says. At the end of each tour Wagner – like all test drivers and passengers – notes his assessments on an extensive evaluation sheet. The final test result is determined from these sheets; a total of around 60 criteria are included in the evaluation.

An MAN E-bus fills up with electricity
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Simply refuel electricity A precise planning regulates the power supply of the buses during the test days.

The Lion's City 12E bus is checked through
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Under the Loupe The Lion's City 12E during the service check.

Performance on the road is only one part of the test. The buses are also subjected to a structural assessment and a detailed pit check in the Stadtwerke Bonn (SWB) workshop. Werner Fischer, Head of Department at SWB, has just climbed out of the pit and is checking his notes over a cup of coffee. Part of the workshop has mutated into a seminar and break room for the test week: a small buffet has been set up in front of the wall with spare parts, a screen in the corner, a projector and a few rows of chairs in front of it. "We naturally pay a lot of attention to the batteries and the wiring", Fischer elucidates. "Everything must be absolutely safe, nothing should rub or grind. With the Lion's City 12E there is nothing to complain about in this respect. "MAN may be late with its e-bus, but it's about to launch a very good product on the market", says Fischer.

There are nevertheless still a few unanswered questions. Tim Honschopp can answer many of them. He is an expert in network analysis at MAN Transport Solutions and is part of the MAN test team in Bonn. He is in great demand as an interlocutor with the local journalists, even though his field of expertise is not part of the actual test. "We at Transport Solutions advise customers who want to switch to e-mobility", Honschopp outlines. The days in Bonn are an important test run for him prior to the first field test with two MAN Lion's City E in Hamburg. MAN handed over the two vehicles to Verkehrsbetriebe Hamburg-Holstein and Hamburger Hochbahn AG in mid-December. A challenge, but "we're approaching it with confidence", states Honschopp.

Dieter Hanke, Editor-in-chief of "Omnibusspiegel" and the lead behind the e-bus test, is right. "Like other leading bus manufacturers, MAN is not a driver, but rather a follower in the field of e-mobility", he says. "This has the advantage, however, that the concept of the Lion's City E is very mature and complements MAN's new city bus generation." Hanke then becomes involved in testing. In addition to high-tech details, he is also interested in whether the interior design is passenger-friendly and barrier-free – also because he himself has a visual impairment. "In this respect, the Lion's City is generally convincing", says Hanke. Another big plus is the upgradable battery concept. But Hanke does not yet want to reveal how the vehicle performs overall. "Because", he stresses, "you can read all about it in the January and February issues of Omnibusspiegel."

Text   Florian Sievers
Photos   Constantin Mirbach

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