This is where it’s at! Where musical fans usually start getting in the mood for their event with a view of Hamburg’s skyline, passers-by were today able to discover state-of-the-art vehicle technology and passenger comfort of urban buses on-board two innovative articulated buses. Mercedes-Benz simultaneously handed over two fully electric eCitaro G urban buses to Hamburger Hochbahn AG (HOCHBAHN) and Verkehrsbetriebe Hamburg-Holstein GmbH (VHH).
Current major orders totalling around 70 eCitaro buses for Hamburg
The interest in the event, which is symbolic of the transport turning point in Hamburg, was as extraordinary as the double handover itself. In the presence of Anjes Tjarks (Senator for Transport and Mobility Change in the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg), Claudia Güsken (HOCHBAHN Executive Director) and Nina Zeun (Project Manager for E-Mobility at VHH GmbH) symbolically accepted the keys for the articulated buses. They were presented with the new vehicles by Rüdiger Kappel (Head of Sales for Large Fleets and Authorities at Mercedes-Benz) and Thorsten Gallo (Plant Representative for Large Fleets).
Both buses are part of considerable large orders. Mercedes-Benz is currently in the process of supplying 37 eCitaro (20 already delivered) to Verkehrsbetriebe Hamburg-Holstein GmbH (VHH) and 34 eCitaro to Hamburger Hochbahn AG. Both orders include rigid and articulated buses, and both are follow-up orders after extensive practical testing with numerous eCitaro buses in daily operations around Hamburg.
Long-lasting: innovative solid-state batteries
The Mercedes-Benz eCitaro is the first and only electric bus to be developed and produced in Germany. An outstanding feature of the two eCitaro G vehicles now being delivered is their innovative solid-state batteries. Both have seven battery packs, each with an energy content of 441 kWh, serving as the basis for a practically oriented range even under demanding conditions. The batteries are charged by a plug connection in the depot. With the solid-state battery technology, Mercedes-Benz and the two transport companies are taking the lead in terms of technology, not only in the bus segment but also worldwide in automotive engineering. Solid-state batteries are characterised, among other things, by a very high energy density and a long service life. Furthermore, this battery technology does not require the use of cobalt.
Attractive and individually differentiated equipment
In addition to their battery technology, the articulated buses of the two companies have numerous other features in common. The four doors of the 18.13-metre low-floor buses ensure convenient and rapid passenger changes at bus stops. The seating arrangement is identical, as is the provision of no less than three special use areas for prams and wheelchairs. The articulated buses are equipped with various infotainment systems with monitors in the front and rear of the bus as well as numerous dual USB sockets for charging mobile devices. The doors of the driver’s cabs are each equipped with partition screens across the entire door width to prevent infection of driving personnel.
Both transport companies also added their own personal touches. First of all, this concerns the paintwork in the respective company colours, as well as individual seat covers, handrails and different floorings in homely wood decor. The VHH buses will have extended glass surfaces on the left and right side walls. Plus, the electrically powered urban buses at VHH each bear a name beginning with the letter “E”. The E is a reference to the VHH brand “elexity”, under which the company combines all aspects of e-mobility. Among other things, the HHA buses feature a door-closing warning system with a flashing red LED light strip and friendly ambient lighting in the passenger compartment.
Two companies, one aim: locally emission-free urban buses in Hamburg
Hamburger Hochbahn AG operates buses and trams in Hamburg. It uses around 1000 buses to serve its 113 lines and approximately 1400 stops. These buses carry around 214 million passengers a year. Since last year, the company has only ordered locally emission-free urban buses.
Verkehrsbetriebe Hamburg-Holstein GmbH operates 155 lines in the Hamburg metropolitan region. The fleet comprises almost 700 buses. VHH carries more than 100 million passenger annually. Since 2020, VHH has procured only locally emission-free buses for use in Hamburg’s urban area.
The two companies work closely together, are partners in the Hamburg Transport Association (HVV) and together span a tight and comprehensive bus network across Hamburg and the surrounding area.
Hamburg and the eCitaro complement each other perfectly: in the port metropolis, the first series-produced eCitaro was brought into regular service by Hamburger Hochbahn AG at the end of 2018 and was part of the largest German market order at the time for fully electric urban buses. This was followed shortly afterwards by the first major order for the eCitaro from Verkehrsbetriebe Hamburg-Holstein. Urban buses with a star shape the cityscape in Hamburg: whether at Hamburger Hochbahn AG or Verkehrsbetriebe Hamburg-Holstein, the Citaro and now the eCitaro vehicles form the backbone of the fleet in both companies. It’s somewhat of a tradition: since 1997, Hamburg has been among the first customers to test the first-generation Citaro. Today, both of the Hamburg-based transport companies have joined forces with Mercedes-Benz to focus on innovative and “green” technology for the metropolitan city.