The first electric, open-top
double-decker sightseeing bus in London built at Unvi in Spain has an electric
motor that comes from Ziehl-Abegg in Kupferzell (Germany). According to Ralf Arnold, Managing Director
of Ziehl-Abegg Automotive, “electromobility is making quiet but inexorable
Unvi is the world's largest
manufacturer of city tour buses with a reputation for custom-built vehicles.
The Spaniards have chosen experienced component manufacturers as partners: BMZ
for the batteries, Ziehl-Abegg Automotive for the powertrain and SAV Studio for
the system integration.
The challenge posed by
open-top, double-decker buses is enormous: since they don’t have a roof, it’s
impossible to position any batteries on the top of the vehicle. "Since our
drive unit is the most efficient in the world, the battery packs can be smaller
than with any other motor concepts," says Arnold.
Notwithstanding the legal
requirements, there are significant disadvantages with diesel sightseeing buses
compared to electrically powered buses: because the constant starting and
stopping puts a great strain on the both the engine and gearbox, is very heavy
on fuel consumption and the energy is completely dissipated during braking – in
electric buses by contrast, the braking energy is used to recharge the
The electric, open-top,
double-decker bus which has started operating in London is 12 metres long and
has twin axles. Inside the bus there is seating for 75 people. The vehicle is
designed for a range of 150 kilometres so the key performance data is the same
as on a conventionally-powered city tour bus – but with enormous advantages in
terms of noise and emission levels.
The bus operator “The Original
Tour” is a subsidiary of the international RATP Group. Ronan Bois, business
unit director for sightseeing at RATP Dev, emphasises, “Every day, people rely
on us for discovering the best of the world’s most iconic cities and we’re
investing in innovation for a new type of sightseeing bus. We’re proud to be
the first sightseeing network to introduce a 100% electric bus in London” and
adds, “this marks another important step in the RATP Group’s commitment to
energy transition. Its success is due to a strong partnership between the team
at ‘The Original Tour London’ and four European manufacturers, including
Ziehl-Abegg which developed the electric powertrain system.”
In the current year, new
open-top, double-decker buses for city tours have already been put into service
in Paris and Amsterdam. Arnold is pleased to state that “our electric drive
ZAwheel is available for the operators of hop-on/hop-off lines for new vehicles
or for retrofitting". An open-top, double-decker bus from the year 1975
which will roll quietly through the streets of Berlin thanks to ZAwheel, went
on display for the first time at the IAA Commercial Vehicles trade fair.
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