Once again, European cities are outperforming American ones on the electrification of bus transit. I’ve talked about this before, but nothing has changed and they’re pulling even further ahead.
Electric bus manufacturer Solaris recently sold another 18 articulated electric vehicles to public transport operator Miejskie Przedsiębiorstwo Komunikacyjne (MPK) in Cracow. The contract was worth over PLN 98 million and the delivery of the buses will be completed next fall.
MPK has chosen e-buses in Cracow that can be charged using a plug-in connector or pantograph charging. The energy storage system will consist of Solaris High Energy batteries with over 400 kWh capacity. To reduce the buses’ energy consumption, the propulsion system will use SiC technology with silicon carbide-based circuits.
The buses will have 2-2-2-2 doors and be able to carry 141 passengers, including 43 seated. The buses will have an efficient air conditioning system, a comprehensive passenger information system, a video surveillance system and USB ports for charging smartphones. Importantly, all systems and devices in the bus, including heating, will be powered solely by electricity.
This Isn’t The First Deal Solaris & Cracow Have Made
Recently, in July of this year, the carrier placed an order for 20 electric buses called Solaris e-buses. 7 of these were Urbino 18 electric units and 13 were Urbino 12 electric units. This group will now be joined by 18 more Urbino 18 Electric vehicles, which means that next year a total of 38 articulated Solaris e-buses will make their way to Cracow. Currently, the city’s fleet contains 76 Solaris e-buses manufactured by Solaris industries. When all is said and done soon enough, Cracow will have an impressive fleet of 114 Urbino electric vehicles in service!
The new hydrogen-fueled model, the Urbino 18 hydrogen, was also launched in September in Cracow. Moreover, MPK Kraków has been testing the 12-meter hydrogen-powered Solaris bus within its network since June.
Prior to that, Cracow has also been involved in testing new electric bus technologies. Going back to 2015, they tested an innovative multi-segment vehicle called the Tramino. The Cracow Tramino was approximately 32 meters long and fully low-floor, built in five sections. The passenger compartment was air-conditioned, step-free, and had modern LED lighting –making it friendly for all passengers, including those with disabilities.
The most unique attribute of the Tramino is that it operates off energy recovered during braking, which is stored in supercapacitors. When compared to other trams on the market, this design reduces power consumption by 20%-30%. It’s also Poland’s first vehicle with this technology. With proper adjustment, supercapacitor systems could make the tram autonomous.
“We follow all the new solutions available on the tram market with great attention. Hence our interest in the Solaris tram, equipped with the innovative energy storage system. It is worth mentioning that above all else, Nowa Huta residents will benefit from the test. The low-floor Tramino will run on route 1, leading from Wzgórza Krzesławickie to Salwator in the city centre,” said Rafał Świerczyński, CEO of Cracow City Transport at the time.
Since then, Cracow’s transport officials have made good on what was said in 2015, with the adoption of a relatively big fleet of electric buses.
Why We Cover “Small” News Like This From Solaris
We at CleanTechnica have been keeping a close eye on Solaris for the last few years. As a European bus manufacturer which is driving electric public transit in many countries, they’re right up our alley.
Earlier this year, the company reached an important milestone with the sale of its 2000th electric bus. Over 140 carriers from over 140 cities in 21 European countries have placed orders for these amazing zero-emission Urbino electric vehicles. Over 1300 of them have already arrived and are being put to use. Another 700 electric buses will be manufactured this year or next, according to the manufacturer. Urbino electric vehicles are not only modern, but also promote eco-friendly transportation in many influential cities such as Berlin, Madrid, Paris, Warsaw, and Venice (among many others now).
It was a long road getting to that milestone. Solaris’ electric bus adventure started back in 2011 with the launch of its first 8.9-meter Urbino electric bus. Since then, the company has introduced a variety of different models and sizes, including the Urbino 12 (produced since 2012), followed by the unveiling of the Urbino 18 bi-articulated electric bus in 2013. In 2019, a platform was created for what would become Solaris’ largest model yet: The Urbino 24 LE Electric debuted early 2020 as an intercity e-bus. The latest Solaris debut came just this year with another addition to their regular sized buses — the Urbino 9 LE Electric.
Last year, Solaris’ Urbino 15 LE Electric Bus won the 2022 Sustainable Bus Award. The award is an international competition that tries to bring awareness to developing eco-friendly public transport while also working to create a positive image for buses and coaches as crucial methods of transportation in climate change prevention.
In addition, Solaris designed an electric bus charging park equipped with the newest technologies. The new EV Charging Park will be a surface area of 5,000 square meters and have four vehicle stands in its covered portion. These stands contain the main charger as well as a technological center. Solaris’s Charging Park will not only be the first bidirectional charging park in Poland, but also one of the few sites utilizing this technology in Europe. The V2G (vehicle-to-grid) deployment makes it possible to not only charge buses for testing, but utilize vehicles as mobile energy storage devices as well.
Solaris’ environmental performance in 2021 was impressive. The company is not only making clean buses, but is working to make its own operations cleaner as well. Instead of rehashing that, you can read all about that here.
While the news of transit electrification is interesting on its own, I think I speak for everyone at CleanTechnica when I say I hope US transit authorities see the news and start catching up. This is especially important when you consider that buses often spend time idling or driving around with only a few passengers during off-peak times. The more we can spread the word about electric buses, the more we can put the pressure on!
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