After a platform for electric cars, Benteler now wants to get into the passenger transport business: The automotive supplier now offers a special platform concept for ‘people movers’, or passenger vans. On request, the supplier will not only provide the platform, but also deliver finished shuttles to the customer.
The e-mobility solution is designed for minibuses in the 15 to 22-passenger range, according to Benteler. The electric platform is said to offer a flat vehicle floor that allows passengers to stand and walk, regardless of the wheelbase. The drive technology is integrated into the front and rear modules.
For the platform, Benteler is building on its experience with the rolling chassis of the Benteler Electric Drive System. In this platform, partner Bosch had provided the electric components for charging and the drive, while Benteler more or less took over the metalwork. The company is taking over everything from the specially developed battery housing to the vehicle frame to chassis components and, above all, the subframes with which the drive units are mounted.
When presenting the minibus platform, the Paderborn-based supplier also emphasises the specially developed battery tray, with which the power storage unit is “optimally integrated into the chassis”. And the frame structure should enable a flexible design of the shuttle – with light and inexpensive materials, the exterior should be able to be individually designed.
“Many years of know-how and a great deal of practical experience went into the development of the new platform for the people mover,” says Marco Kollmeier, Vice President of the E-Mobility Business Unit at Benteler Automotive. “At the same time, the new platform concept also meets the special requirements of passenger conveyance – an area where, until now, the growing demand from mobility providers has met with a very low level of supply. With this, we are taking another innovative step in e-mobility.”
Currently still too innovative for the German legislator: Equipped with appropriate systems, the people mover should be able to drive autonomously according to Level 4 and 5. A driver’s seat would then be omitted (but is provided in the current versions), which should offer more space for passengers or freight with the same external dimensions.
Via pre-integrated modules, similar to the Benteler Electric Drive System, customers should be able to make certain adjustments to “their” shuttle – from a low-cost budget variant (probably more for short-haul operation) to true high-tech shuttles. Benteler wants to offer the systems for semi-autonomous driving, which are adapted to the hardware, together with partners.
On request, Benteler says it will supply not only the technology but also complete shuttles. “With our strong partner network, we can also develop and manufacture complete shuttles,” says Kollmeier. Market flexibility and adaptability were also mentioned: “Together with our partners, we offer pre-designed solutions into which our customers can deploy their ADAS systems. This saves them valuable development time for quick market entry.”