According to a new EU directive, a large proportion of buses in regional public transport will have to run with low or even zero emissions in the coming years. The Clean Logistics company is responding to this together with Uckermärkische Verkehrsgesellschaft and the state of Brandenburg. Thanks to a forward-looking concept, vehicles in an existing fleet can be converted to hydrogen fuel cell drives. As early as mid-2021, the first climate-friendly converted shuttle buses are expected to be in use in the Lower Oder Valley National Park.
The way is clear for buses with environmentally friendly drive systems: The EU's Clean Vehicle Directive stipulates that 45 percent of buses in Germany's regional public transport system must be low-emission by the end of 2025, and at least half of them should even have a completely emission-free drive system. In order to improve air quality in cities and regions and at the same time strengthen climate protection, this directive must be taken into account when awarding public transport contracts as early as mid-2021. However, it is also possible to convert buses from existing fleets.
Uckermärkische Verkehrsgesellschaft (UVG) and the state of Brandenburg reacted early on and will be using two such converted buses in Brandenburg's Lower Oder Valley National Park for a shuttle service for visitors as early as next year. The partner in implementing the innovative technology is Clean Logistics, a company based in the Hanseatic city of Hamburg that already has experience with the successful conversion of heavy diesel trucks to hydrogen hybrid drives and has received funding from the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI).
"We expect the new regulation to give a boost to 33,000 buses in operation in Germany," said executive directors Dirk Lehmann and Dirk Graszt. Clean Logistics was founded in 2018 as a medium-sized joint venture by the companies Höpen and Hary to promote the development of alternative drives. Now, thanks to this pioneering spirit, it is possible to install a completely electric powertrain in the vehicles in addition to using the hydrogen fuel cell.
Such an FCEV (Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle) conversion of buses offers several advantages. The use of many resources is reduced during conversion compared to manufacturing a new vehicle, making it the most economical and ecologically sound solution. In addition, bus drivers do not have to adapt to a new type of vehicle. This is because there are currently no products on offer from the most frequently used manufacturers in this country, which means that when new buses are purchased, they would first have to turn to other manufacturers. In addition, this solution makes it possible for large transport companies to convert their series-production vehicles themselves at a later date at their own depots. This safeguards jobs in these workshops and enables the companies to handle larger volumes.
UVG and Clean Logistics are cooperating with notable partners here: the fuel cell, which has an onboard output of 60 kW, is supplied by the leading Chinese company Re-Fire Technology. The tank system comes from Hydac International, and the battery is supplied by eCap Mobility, a reliable provider of electric mobility solutions. eCap is a partner company of Clean Logistics and is based in Winsen an der Luhe.
The first two converted twelve-meter Mercedes-Benz Citaro buses will be delivered at the end of March and the end of June so that the planned deployment by UVG can start in the floodplains of the Lower Oder Valley National Park in the middle of next year. Visitors will then be taken to the entrances by a climate-friendly bus shuttle and later driven back to their parking spaces or to the train station.
"As a 'first mover' together with UVG and the state of Brandenburg, we are contributing to climate protection with the concept of alternative drive solutions by sustainably reducing transport emissions," said Clean Logistics executive directors Dirk Lehmann and Dirk Graszt. Transport companies that also want to convert their buses to zero-emission drive systems in accordance with the new "Clean Vehicle Directive" can apply for grants, and a large part of the additional investment costs will be reimbursed.