VDL Bus & Coach recently completed Europe’s first large-scale battery refurbishment project. 43 buses operated by Hermes, part of Transdev Netherlands, which went into service at the end of 2016, were fitted with completely new and much larger battery packs over the past year, bringing the buses back up to date in terms of their equipment. The old batteries will be used within project ‘Anubis’ in cooperation with RWE in a stationary application in the power grid.
Brabant’s public transport company Hermes took 43 electric 18-metre buses into service at the end of 2016, instantly having the largest electric bus fleet in Europe. This was an important step in making public transport in the Netherlands more sustainable. The public transport sector has learned a lot from the deployment of these zero emission buses in and around Eindhoven. After more than six years, the first-generation batteries have now been replaced by a new generation, significantly increasing the range of the buses.
The performance of the initial batteries had declined after 6 years due to the intensive use of the buses, which can be compared to a passenger car having driven 1,750,000 km in 6 years. In other words, the buses and batteries performed very well!
Now, six years after commissioning, the decline in battery performance would reduce the range of the buses, thereby failing to ensure efficient operation. It was therefore decided to replace the batteries. This completed a natural, calculated and carefully monitored process. The old batteries have not yet been recycled, but are used in a stationary application in the power grid in project ‘Anubis’ in cooperation with RWE.
Double the battery capacity
The decision was made to replace the original battery pack with a completely new system with almost double the capacity, up from 180 kWh to 350 kWh. This is made possible by using the latest battery developments. The result is a significantly greater range, allowing this upgrade to be even more flexible for dealing with the planned charging times. Thus, the 43 buses, which have now collectively driven over 18 million kilometres, are once again up to date and ready to provide zero emission urban transport in Eindhoven in the years to come.
Martijn Mentink, Managing Director Hermes: “In 2016, Hermes led the way with the introduction of 43 18-metre zero emission buses. We are proud to now be taking another big step forwards in our greening strategy. Because we need fewer charging cycles for our buses, we can use them on more lines. This will allow more travellers to experience the comfort of these electric buses and, of course, we are extremely happy about that.”
The conversion to the new battery system is a first in the transition to sustainable public transport and underlines VDL Bus & Coach’s ambition to always offer customers an optimal solution. By converting to the new battery system, the now six-year-old buses are again state of the art, which the new buses to be delivered in 2023 will also be. The initial batteries were deployed in collaboration with RWE in a second-life energy storage application in Moerdijk. This optimises the sustainable use chain, further delays recycling and maximises battery use.
The conversion of the buses came about in collaboration between several VDL companies and was carried out by VDL Special Vehicles in Eindhoven. Veldhoven-based VDL Parts played a central role in supplying the necessary conversion parts and battery systems.
With this refurbishment project at Hermes in Eindhoven, VDL’s ambition to be a forerunner in technological developments has once again been given concrete form. In addition, VDL will show how real measures are taken to optimise the customer’s operational capabilities, including during the bus’s lifetime.
SOURCE: VDL Bus & Coach