Hamburg orders up to 350 electric buses from MAN & Daimler


Verkehrsbetriebe Hamburg-Holstein (VHH) orders up to 350 new electric buses in one fell swoop for its public transport fleet of almost 700 vehicles. MAN Truck & Bus and Daimler Buses are the winners of the largest electric bus tender in the company’s history.

The VHH announced the large order three months after the news that the conversion of Hamburg’s bus fleets to electric vehicles is progressing more slowly than planned. According to the Senate’s answer to a small question, at the turn of the year Hochbahn and VHH together had launched around 58 vehicles, or 20 per cent fewer electric buses than planned.

It is not a question of will. The VHH now backs this up with freshly signed framework agreements for 350 electric buses. The company will order up to 100 Lion’s City 12 E from MAN. Daimler Buses has an option for a total of 250 Mercedes-Benz eCitaro vehicles. If Hamburg calls up the entire 350 electric buses, the electrically powered part of its fleet will more than quadruple. VHH currently operates 86 electric buses, which are mainly used in regular service from the Bergedorf depot in the east and the Schenefeld depot in the west. According to the public transport company, 17 more electric buses and eleven electric transporters will go into service within the next few weeks, so the electric bus fleet will grow to a total of 114 vehicles by the second quarter of 2023.

The first supply from the framework agreements now concluded with MAN and Daimler Buses is expected in Hamburg in the first half of the year. Fixed orders have already been placed for 48 solo buses from MAN and 47 solo and 48 articulated buses from Daimler Buses. The VHH have ergo immediately called for 143 of the 350 buses. The framework agreements run until 2028 – so the manufacturers guarantee delivery of the additional units until then.

“We have a clear vision in mind: in the 2030s, we want to be locally emission-free on the road in the Hamburg metropolitan region,” says VHH Managing Director Dr Lorenz Kasch. “Innovative vehicles are an important building block in this process. We are working very intensively with all the manufacturers who supply us. Topics such as availability and range have gained momentum. We are looking forward to continuing on this path together.”

Both manufacturers provide some details about the ordered models in their own issued press releases. For example, the eCitaro buses have three doors as solo buses and four doors as articulated buses. According to Daimler Buses, these are specimens with the improved battery technology presented in 2022 with so-called NMC3 batteries on board. “An energy capacity of 490 kWh for the solo bus and even 588 kWh for the articulated bus ensure a practical range without intermediate charging,” the manufacturer emphasises. Daimler Buses is not more precise about the range. However, VHH states that the range of all ordered models (MAN and Daimler Buses) is 200 to 300 kilometres.

Charging sockets are located on both the left and right of the eCitaros at the height of the front wheel arches. The buses are charged purely at the VHH depot. The safety equipment of the Mercedes vehicles includes, among other things, a braking and a turning assistant as well as an acoustic environment protection system. Inside, the vehicles feature wood-look flooring, USB dual charging sockets, passenger counting systems and special-use areas for wheelchairs and/or prams.

For MAN, this is also not the first electric bus order from the Hamburg VHH headquarters. In fact, this is already the fourth order, according to the Munich-based manufacturer. At the end of 2019, VHH ordered the first 17 MAN Lion’s City 12 E buses. The next order was for a further 20 electric buses. In 2022, VHH opted for electric buses from MAN for the third time: the order at that time comprised 30 solo buses and six articulated buses.

The current framework agreement is exclusively for electrically powered solo buses, which also have three doors. MAN gives a total of 480 kWh as the energy content of the six battery packs, which is ten kilowatt-hours less than the eCitaro solo bus. One of the buses’ features highlighted by the manufacturer is a CO2 air conditioning system that uses climate-neutral carbon dioxide (R744) instead of the conventional refrigerant R134a. In addition, the Lion’s City 12 E examples also roll out with extensive safety equipment including brake and turn assistants, USB charging sockets, among other features.

Verkehrsbetriebe Hamburg-Holstein has been ordering only buses with zero-emission drives for its Hamburg service area since 2020. The company operates 170 routes in the Hamburg metropolitan region. With more than 2,300 employees and around 670 buses at 17 locations, VHH describes itself as the “second largest local transport company in northern Germany”. According to the company, its vehicles cover around 34 million kilometres in Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein every year, carrying around 62 million passengers.

The goal issued by the transport company is to convert the vehicle fleet to zero-emission drives as far as possible by the 2030s. “One of our most important topics for the future is electromobility. Since 2020, VHH has been procuring only electric buses for Hamburg. We have entered completely new territory here and are glad that we can now fall back on vehicles that are ready for series production. Great progress has been made, especially in terms of range and availability,” emphasises VHH Managing Director Kasch.

Incidentally, Hochbahn has also stopped procuring new diesel buses since 2020. In this respect, both Hamburg transport companies are taking this path together. Hochbahn’s fleet comprises around 1,100 buses and is thus even larger than the VHH fleet. Both receive government support for the conversion to e-drives. In April 2022, for example, Hochbahn and VHH received almost 160 million euros from the Federal Ministry of Transport to procure 472 additional electric buses including charging infrastructure.

With reporting by Cora Werwitzke, France.

daimlertruck.com, mantruckandbus.com


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