VDL presents the new generation of its Citea bus, which will be available exclusively as an electric vehicle. The new Citea will be built in four length variants, and according to VDL, all vehicles will have an operating radius of 500 to 600 kilometres over their entire period of use.
VDL has already mentioned many features of the new generation of electric buses in advance, such as the accommodation of the batteries in the vehicle’s underbody and the use of a composite side wall made of one piece, developed in-house. More details on this in a moment.
The battery capacity is new and the smallest new Citea will feature up to 490 kWh. VDL has not yet given any details for the other length variants. The new bus will be available in lengths of 12.2 metres (Low Floor and Low Entry), 13.5 metres (LE), 14.9 metres (LE) and 18.1 metres (LF). As mentioned at the beginning, all of them will have an operating range of 500 to 600 kilometres.
Otherwise, VDL’s presentation of the new Citea is limited to remarks on improved components and sustainable production methods. The Dutch do not mention facts about the powertrain, charging equipment and performance of the buses. Some of the “five important innovations”, as introduced by VDL for the Citea, are already known in broad outline.
The standard battery pack will in future be housed in the floor, which maximises the number of seats, according to VDL. In addition, the electric bus will have a lower weight due to the batteries being integrated into the floor, as well as a lower centre of gravity and thus a more stable road holding. As the manufacturer’s announcement refers to a “standard battery pack”, additional batteries may be installed elsewhere in the bus.
VDL has already announced many times that the new generation of buses will have an innovative sidewall made of a composite material, which is supposed to reduce vibrations and filter external noise and, above all, be 15 per cent lighter than a conventional sidewall. The wall, which is made from one piece, also prevents cold bridges and significantly improves the insulation of the bus – and the consumption of the air-conditioning system is also significantly reduced, the statement continues.
“The development of the new generation Citeas gave us the opportunity to integrate the latest high-tech technologies in the most efficient way possible,” sums up Alex de Jong, Business Manager Public Transport at VDL Bus & Coach. “We started completely from scratch, focusing on zero emissions. We took the ideal layout of the vehicle as a starting point. An optimal seat layout and passenger flow, combined with optimal weight distribution, were essential to the development. We also decided at that stage to integrate the standard batteries into the floor. The objective of this is to reduce the centre of gravity and optimise the weight distribution and allocation of all necessary components.”
Compared to diesel buses, the number of passengers in the new Citeas is said to be greater and the total cost of ownership lower in most operating conditions. In an earlier announcement VDL wrote of up to 110 passengers that can be carried in the new 12.2 metre version. Incidentally, there is already a first customer for this bus variant: the Dutch transport company Hermes ordered 32 units of the 12.2-metre electric bus in April, which are to be used in Eindhoven from January 2022.
The new Citeas will be built at VDL’s established production facilities in the Netherlands and Belgium. The company wants to make production as sustainable as possible. Thus, a large proportion of the parts (“components that together account for more than 80 percent of the bus weight”) will be supplied from within a 1,250 km radius of the assembly lines from Western European countries. In addition, the manufacturer cooperates with UNICEF to trace the battery chain.
“With the market for electric public transport buses growing, our customers are emphatically looking for sustainable e-mobility,” says Willem van der Leegte, CEO of VDL Group. “By contributing to the sustainability targets of our customers and contracting authorities, VDL Bus & Coach is striving to increase the value and quality our customers demand. Ensuring ethical business practices throughout the complex supply chain is, of course, crucial in this regard. Our starting point is to manage that supply chain sustainably.”
With reporting by Cora Werwitzke, France.