Northern Irish bus manufacturer Wrightbus has selected Voith as its exclusive partner to supply the electric drive system for the second generation of its battery-electric and fuel cell buses for Europe.
In future, the company will equip all these vehicles with the Voith Electrical Drive System (VEDS) as standard. The first joint major order is to be delivered in August 2021, according to the announcement. Wrightbus then plans to hand over the first of 80 StreetDeck BEV double-decker buses with the Voith drive to Translink, the largest operator of buses in Northern Ireland. Translink intends to use the new double-decker buses in the public transport systems of Belfast and Derry.
The German supplier says it has developed the VDES specifically for the requirements of public transport. The 340 kW electric motor is said to be able to drive even double-decker buses, heavy articulated buses and trucks over long distances. The system also includes a water-cooled converter system, a drive management unit (called DMU), further converters for auxiliary units and the on-board charging management system including the cabling. Voith expects this to result in the highest possible efficiency, as all components are coordinated with each other.
According to the latest press release, this is one of the factors that tipped the scales in favour of the Wrightbus order. In the run-up to the order, the manufacturer from Ballymena “analysed all the electric drive systems available in Europe” – the VDES convinced them with the highest efficiency. “The limiting factor for battery-powered vehicles is the range,” says Brian Maybin, head of advanced technology at Wrightbus. “[…] the efficiency of the drivetrain is the crucial consideration in day-to-day operation. This applies even more to double-decker buses that only have limited space and a restricted weight capacity for additional batteries.”
Voith had announced the VDES in 2017 and provided initial details of the drive system a year later. In November 2020, the company also announced that Orten Electric-Trucks was also betting on the VDES.
Wrightbus had been forced to file for bankruptcy in 2019, but was then taken over by the Bamford family of industrialists. Under the leadership of the Bamford Group, Wrightbus had won new orders (including 20 H2 double-deckers for Birmingham) and was able to form new partnerships. The batteries, for example, are supplied by the French manufacturer Forsee Power in an exclusive partnership, similar to Voith’s propulsion system.
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