August 18th, 2020 by Zachary Shahan
The city of Hamburg is one of the first in Europe or the Americas to follow the lead of Chinese cities and switch over 100% to purchasing electric buses, rather than gas, diesel, and natural gas buses. In the coming five years, it plans to get 530 new buses, all 100% electric.
Earlier today, Hamburger Hochbahn, the public transport operator for the city of Hamburg, published a list of companies that could supply the city with its new electric buses.
We reported in 2019 that Hamburger Hochbahn would order only electric buses starting in 2020, and it was an electric vehicle adoption pioneer before that. In 2018, Volkswagen Group launched MOIA electric ridesharing vehicles (real ridesharing shuttles, not just app-based taxis) in Hamburg (see pictures below). Also in 2018, the city ordered 50 Volkswagen e-Golfs for residents.
Also in 2018, Hamburger Hochbahn ordered 20 units of the Mercedes-Benz Citaro electric bus, a large electric bus order for a European city at the time. Well, that would still be considered a large order, relatively speaking, today.
In 2019, Hamburg got a little autonomous electric shuttle that can seat up to 10 people. It began testing in 2019 and was supposed to launch for customer service in mid-2020, but given the coronavirus situation, I imagine that got delayed.
Late in 2019, Hamburg made the announcement noted at the top about going 100% electric for its bus fleet and ordering 530 new electric buses by 2025.
Regarding the news today, Hamburger Hochbahn reportedly released a list of suppliers that Hamburger Hochbahn was willing to buy electric buses from. I could not find this announcement on Hamburger Hochbahn’s website, but we got the news from a Solaris press release. Solaris, a Polish bus company, is the leading producer of electric buses in Europe. As you might have guessed, Solaris was one of the companies on the list.
In fact, Solaris itself has a decent history supplying the city with zero-emissions buses already. Solaris delivered two hydrogen-fuel-cell buses to Hamburg in 2014, and 13 battery-electric buses to the city between 2019 and 2019.
In particular, Hamburger Hochbahn is looking to buy 12 and 18-metre (articulated) battery-electric buses, and Solaris offers models of each. It was one of just three bus companies shortlisted to supply Hamburg with the buses. (It’s not clear who the other two were, since Solaris — unsurprisingly — did not mention the other companies.)
“Being one of three key suppliers of a total of 530 electric buses for the customer from Hamburg is a great recognition for our achievements in e-mobility,” Petros Spinaris, Deputy CEO of Solaris, noted with the announcement. “It is a framework contract and the extent of the final order might vary. However I sincerely hope that Solaris will be delivering within the next four years both 12-metre buses and articulated ones, which will at the same time allow us to maintain our leading position on the market of electric buses in Europe.”
The city transport agency’s leadership team also decided that going electric wasn’t enough in itself. Its criteria for bus orders is broader and deeper than that.
“With the order, we are laying an essential foundation stone for the complete conversion of our fleet to climate-friendly drives,” Henrik Falk, CEO of Hamburger Hochbahn, commented. “For the first time in Germany, we also applied sustainability criteria in the tender. We want to take on a global responsibility in addition to our local responsibility. An important step on the way to real green mobility and a climate-neutral company.”
While I did not find a separate announcement from Hamburger Hochbahn about this news, while looking through its press releases, I found some other positive green transport news. A few days ago, the concrete floor for the city’s first bicycle parking garage was poured. “Starting next spring, in time for the new cycling season, Hamburg residents will have a further 600 covered bicycle parking spaces available. Together with the storage facilities at the bicycle racks in the area, there are a total of 1,000 parking spaces at the Kellinghusenstrasse stop. In future, users will be able to park their bicycles safely and transfer comfortably to underground trains and buses.“
Anjes Tjarks, Senator for Transport and Mobility Turnaround: “The Kellinghusenstrasse stop is an excellent example of a modern inner-city mobility point. Here passengers can board two subway lines and three metro bus lines. The train station can be reached safely and comfortably by bike via the expanded Veloroute 13, which runs through the inner city as a ring route.” Furthermore, that MOIA electric ridesharing service I mentioned earlier in this article can be found at this station.
Last month, Hamburger Hochbahn noted that its 30 electric buses had already traveled 1 million kilometers, avoiding “significantly more than 1,000 tons of CO2.” 10 of those buses are Solar electric buses, while the other 20 are EvoBus electric buses. EvoBus is a subsidiary of Daimler.
“The use of the first vehicles and the mileage have shown that the emission-free drives are ready for series production. The HOCHBAHN gradually put the battery buses into operation in the course of 2019. There are 20 EvoBus vehicles and 10 Solaris vehicles. As of this year, the company has only been ordering emission-free buses. 30 more vehicles are to be added in the course of the year. While the vehicles currently in use guarantee a range of 150 kilometers, the 2020 vehicles will reach 200 kilometers without intermediate charging.“
Hamburg is not making all this progress on its own, though. It is getting a significant chunk of support from the federal government. A July 31 Hamburger Hochbahn press release notes, “The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) is funding the conversion of local public transport to electromobility in Hamburg with 47 million euros. … The funds will be used to purchase a total of 96 e-buses (72 solo and 24 articulated buses) and 128 chargers to power the battery buses at the depots of the two transport companies. The basis is the ‘Guideline for the Promotion of the Acquisition of Electric Buses in Local Public Transport’ of March 5, 2018.“
So, this great news doesn’t all come from Hamburg — Hamburger Hochbahn gets a big chunk of support from the German government. Nonetheless, it is a great leadership story for electric transit in a Western country.
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