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24 Mercedes-Benz eCitaro for Darmstadt

Demonstration trip to the city centre: eCitaro G no. 425 at Schlossgraben | © Christian Marquordt

“HEAG mobilo”, the local transport company of the “City of Science” Darmstadt, invited to the presentation of 24 electric buses from Mercedes-Benz at Böllenfalltor depot on 27 August 2021. The new series include eleven 12-metre-buses eCitaro and numbered 333 to 343 and thirteen articulated eCitaro G with a length of 18 metres (numbered 415 to 427). With this new buses, the share of articulated buses in the fleet is growing. HEAG mobilo boss Dirmeier: “With the new articulated ebuses we offer our passengers more comfort by giving them more space.” The decision in favour of the buses from Mercedes-Benz was made on the basis of a Europe-wide invitation to tender. The new ebuses had already been in service since 23 August.

At the presentation from left to right: Thomas Schmidt (Managing Director Entega), Michael Kolmer (Head of Mobility of the City of Darmstadt), Michael Dirmeier (Managing Director HEAG mobilo) and Jochen Partsch (Lord Mayor Darmstadt) | © Christian Marquordt

Together with the six Mercedes eCitaro no. 327 to 332 that started service last year, HEAG mobilo now has 30 electric buses. This means that Darmstadt currently has one of the largest electric bus fleets in Germany. HEAG mobilo currently has a total of 88 buses. 30 of them – and thus a little more than 33% or one third – are already electric buses. HEAG mobilo is proud of this fact.

Ebus no. 332, eCitaro from the 2020 delivery, advertises the batteries that power it with a total: Akasol. Dirmeier: “The batteries come from our city.” | © Christian Marquordt

Michael Dirmeier, the managing director of HEAG mobilo, emphasised at the presentation of the new electric buses that they will not only be used on Darmstadt’s inner-city routes, but will serve longer, interurban routes.

Jochen Partsch, Darmstadt’s mayor: “The effects of electric mobility on the environment can also be felt locally. Darmstadt is growing, Darmstadt needs more mobility, but it has to be modern and environmentally friendly. With the 24 new vehicles, HEAG mobilo is making a major contribution to a better urban climate. In addition, the electric buses reduce noise pollution.”

Michael Kolmer, Head of Mobility of the Darmstadt city administration, emphasised that the passengers also benefit from the new buses: “Only with an attractive offer can we continue to inspire people to use public transport.” He mentioned that HEAG is collaborating with the municipal electricity supplier Entega. Thomas Schmidt, Managing Director of Entega, said: “Entega has created the preconditions in the electricity grid to implement the project charging station for electric buses in Darmstadt.” An intelligent system for the charging management of the buses is currently being planned. The aim is to optimally distribute the buses to the individual chargers and keep them ready for use. At the same time, the charging management system ensures that the power grid is used as little as possible and that electricity costs are reduced.

Böllenfalltor depot, transformer station (left) and inverter) | © Christian Marquordt

HEAG mobilo’s electric buses are so-called “depot chargers”. They are charged overnight at Böllenfalltor depot – with 100% green electricity. At Böllenfalltor depot, there are 56 charging points for the individual buses are currently supplied from a central unit under the ceiling. 56 charging points? Yes, that’s right, because another 22 electric buses are scheduled to start operation in Darmstadt as early as next year 2022.

The cables for the individual charging points hang down from the ceiling of the hall) | © Christian Marquordt
Charging cable connected to the bus via combo plug | © Christian Marquordt

The new ebuses have a battery capacity of 384 kWh, which gives the 12-metre buses a range of 220 kilometres and the articulated buses a range of 170 kilometres. (Note: Mercedes is rather cautious when it comes to specifying the ranges of its electric buses). The 24 new buses cost around 16 million euros, with the Federal Ministry for the Environment subsidising the purchase.

Never before in the company’s history has HEAG (mobilo) purchased 24 buses at once. The fact that things are different now is due to the company’s emphatically ambitious plans: as early as 2025, only electric buses are to be on the road in Darmstadt. By then, two thirds of the fleet will have to be replaced. Dirmeier: “We are now taking a large number of older diesel buses out of service. The oldest diesel buses we still have in service were built in 2014 and will easilt find a second-hand use in the market.”

The presentation was concluded by a demonstration tour with no. 425, one of the four-door articulated ebuses.

Technical data of the new HEAG mobilo electric buses:

Length: 12,000 mm (solo coach) or 18,000 mm (articulated coach)

Passenger capacity: 72 passengers (solo) or 136 passengers (articulated)

Battery capacity: 384 kWh

Charging time: approx. 3 hours

Electricity: green electricity

Range: 220 km (solo) or 170 km (articulated)

V/max: 80 km/h

Driving noise: 72 dBA

Purchase price: 580,000 euros (solo) or 720,000 euros (articulated)

Diesel fuel savings for all wagons per year: 2.5 million litres

CO2 savings for all wagons per year: 6,600 to

HEAG mobile eCitaro G no. 423 / © Mercedes-Benz
Already on the line: no. 340, like all the other 12-metre buses also a three-door car) | © Christian Marquordt
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