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Clean Transport Image Credit: Volvo

Published on May 31st, 2014 | by James Ayre

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Volvo Providing Hamburger Hochbahn With Electric Buses

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May 31st, 2014 by  

If you happen to find yourself in Hamburg towards the end of the year, you may be lucky enough to see one of Volvo’s new electric buses, thanks to a new development partnership between the Swedish car company and Hamburger Hochbahn AG.

As per the deal, Volvo Buses will deliver three Volvo Electric plug-in hybrids to Hamburger Hochbahn AG — these will then enter service in the city sometime before the end of the year. They’ll be used for regular service routes, and are expected to lead to a wider deployment of the technology in the near future.

Image Credit: Volvo

Image Credit: Volvo

The new buses are diesel-electric hybrids that can go up to 10 km on only electricity — total fuel consumption and CO2 emissions can be reduced by up to 75% (as compared to conventional diesel) and total energy consumption by 60%.

“The goal is clear: from 2020 we will only order buses with pollutant-free drives. That is ambitious and we have therefore decided to participate even more intensively in the development of innovative drives. In entering into this development partnership we will now move from being an observer to being the driving force in the field of battery bus technology as well,” stated Hochbahn chairman Günter Elste.

The charging station infrastructure will be housed at the respective termini of the routes — and is being developed by Siemens.


“This charging technology is ideally suited because the moveable contact arm is mounted on a mast and lowers down to the contact bars on the roof of the bus. Due to its charging capacity of up to 300 kW, this technology is able to cover the energy demand even in case of the highly demanding operating conditions of electric and hybrid electric buses,” stated Andreas Laske, Head of Electric Buses at Siemens.

In related news, Volvo recently revealed that it is currently in the process of developing an electric-road test program in the Swedish city of Gothenburg as part of the ElectriCity EV bus system project. The program will see a 300- to 500-meter electric road enter test operations in Gothenburg in 2015. The road will work via what’s known as inductive charging — electricity wirelessly transferred to the batteries on the underside of the vehicles via equipment built into the road.

On the electric bus front, Volvo is a leader but it is a bit behind BYD, which has sent 100% electric buses to pilot programs around the world and recently saw 2,000 of its electric buses ordered in China.

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.



  • JamesWimberley

    The selling point of hybrids against pure evs is range anxiety, stemming from the individual car owner’s desire for flexibility in use. Urban bus operators have no interest in flexibility, and a lot in keeping running and maintenance costs down. The hybrid bus will be short-lived.

    • vadik

      I second to this. The hybrid buses are already giving in to BEVs.

    • Ronald Brakels

      It sounds like they are going for the small batteries but regular charging route, like Proterra buses in the US are designed to. This system is not going to appeal in a lot of places thanks to a lack of incentive to invest in public infrastructure, but Hamburg can certainly pull it off and the hybrid buses could be replaced with all electrics before long and the hybrids presumably moved to the longer routes. I don’t know what the sweet spot between battery size and number of charging stations will be (or if there even will be one) but I’m glad they aren’t waiting for things to become clearer before moving ahead.

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