Mercedes-Benz to launch ‘modular’ electric city bus
Mercedes-Benz has announced it is releasing an all-electric version of its popular city bus, the Citaro, from next year.
The model has been used in public transport systems around the world, including London’s infamous ‘bendy buses’ and is the world’s best-selling bus according to its manufacturer.
The 50,000th Citaro was recently manufactured following the introduction of a hybrid model, although Mercedes-Benz is now set on creating a purely electric variant.
“Our city bus produces zero local emissions and is ultra-quiet through town. The engineers are currently undertaking thorough testing of prototypes of the new bus under the toughest of conditions,” said Hartmut Schick, head of Daimler Buses, which owns the Mercedes-Benz bus brand.
“As the technical concept, which involves a modular system for the power supply as well as optimised thermal management, makes clear: the Citaro with battery-electric drive will set a new milestone.”
Although standard lithium-ion batteries will be used, the new Citaro models are being kitted out with a modular design which means that each bus can be customised to the operator to match a wide range of applications and requirements in city traffic.
As well as the possibility of charging it from a power socket at the depot, Mercedes-Benz can also supply the Citaro with one of a range of intermediate recharging solutions. The vehicle is powered by electric wheel hub motors at the rear axle, a system already used in the hybrid models.
The model will also feature “refined thermal management” of the bus’s drive and climate control systems in order to reduce energy consumption and extend the range of the bus if necessary.
Prototypes are currently undergoing winter testing in icy temperatures at the Arctic Circle as well as summer testing in the heat of Spain’s Sierra Nevada in order to ensure reliability in a range of conditions.
Endurance testing and detailed refinements will follow, with full production expected to start in the autumn of next year.
The new Citaro is set to be premiered in September 2018 at the IAA Commercial Vehicles show in Hanover.
Demand for electric buses is predicted to grow rapidly in the coming years as concerns increase about the impact that diesel engine fumes have on air pollution and the health of urban dwellers. Electric vehicles also produce much less noise than their combustion engine counterparts
Electricity is cheaper per kilometre than fossil fuels, a boon for vehicles that typically drive much longer distances per day than an average consumer car. In addition, maintenance cost are lower due to the simplicity of electric drivetrains.