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ESWE Wiesbaden: 120 Mercedes-Benz eCitaro eletric buses in service

eCitaro no. 183 at the depot | © Christian Marquordt

On 18 November 2019, Mercedes-Benz handed over its first Mercedes-Benz eCitaro vehicles – cars 100 to 104 – to ‘ESWE Verkehrsgesellschaft GmbH’, Wiesbaden’s municipal transport company, in ‘classic November weather’ at the depot on Gartenfeldstraße. The five vehicles are deliberately designed to stand out as special vehicles, which is why they are not painted in the usual Wiesbaden white with a ‘foot bandage’ in orange (‘Nassau orange’) and dark blue, but in violet. They are to be used on Line 1 from Dürerplatz via the main railway station to the lower terminus of the famous Nerobergbahn funicular.

18 November 2019: Mercedes hands over the first five eCitaro buses to ESWE (left: bus 103, right: bus 101) | © Daimler Buses

The 12,135 mm long buses are 3,450 mm high. They have 33 seats and 41 standing places. Their nickel-manganese-cobalt batteries (NMC) give them a range of 150 to 200 kilometres.

Five more similar coaches with the road numbers 105 to 109 will follow in 2020, but again in the traditional Wiesbaden colours. And then it went ‘blow by blow’, so to speak. Since summer 2023, ESWE’s total fleet of Mercedes-Benz eCitaro buses has totalled 120 vehicles. ESWE proudly states that it operates one of the largest electric bus fleets in Germany, ‘only the megacities of Berlin and Hamburg have more electric buses. In relation to the size of the city, we even have the most electric buses.’

No. 100 as a shuttle service at the ‘120 electric buses for ESWE Wiesbaden’ event | © Christian Marquordt
Bus no.105, also of the first design, under one of the charging traverses | © Christian Marquordt

The 110 newer eCitaro electric buses, acquired between 2020 and 2023, are again 12,135 mm long, but slightly higher at 3,500 mm. They can carry 34 seated and 40 standing passengers, so their total passenger capacity of 74 people has not changed compared to the first vehicles; at most, they are slightly more comfortable with one more seat. Their main difference to the first ten cars is that they have solid-state batteries, which give them a range of at least 200 kilometres.

All 120 e-buses have ZF’s AVE 130 electric portal axle. The two electric motors close to the wheel hubs each deliver 125 kW, so that the total output is 250 kW.

Each of the 120 eCitaro buses has its own charging point, so that they can all be charged at the same time during the night-time shutdown. Although not every bus has its own fixed charging point, the driver is told which charging point to park the bus at when he returns to the depot from the route. The charging capacity of the chargers is up to 150 kW; it would take three to four hours to fully recharge a completely empty bus.

The area in which the buses are charged is divided into areas 2 A, 2 B and 2 C; each bus can be recharged at any charging point. Area 2 C was the last to go into operation, realised in cooperation with ‘Daimler Buses Solutions GmbH’, which acted as general contractor and delivered everything ‘turnkey’ from planning to final completion. This also includes charging infrastructure including depot management with intelligent load and charging management. Area 2 C is spanned by trusses. On them sit charging reels, one for each of the 24 charging bays, on which the respective charging cable is rolled up. When the bus is parked in the charging bay, the driver presses a button, the charging cable unrolls and lowers itself to the bus, and the driver only has to plug the CCS combo plug of the cable into the socket of the bus. Daimler Buses CEO Till Oberwörder: ‘The transport company ESWE needed a complete solution, i.e. vehicles including charging facilities. We were able to support our customer with our experience and expertise. We are now electrifying 20 depots throughout Europe.’ For example, in The Hague in the Netherlands.

Cars that need to be checked after damage can be parked in a ‘rest area’ near the charging bays. It is dimensioned so that there is also enough space for future electric articulated buses.

Wiesbaden’s eCitaro buses are purely depot chargers; there is no recharging on the route. Of course, this means that they are only used on routes that they can manage in terms of range. But the same applies in Wiesbaden: there are enough routes in the network that the electric buses can operate without any problems.    

Conclusion after one year of using 120 eCitaro buses

The basis for the deployment of Wiesbaden’s 120 eCitaro buses has so far been the ‘Electric Mobility Project’. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection has provided 52.4 million euros for the purchase of the buses and the charging infrastructure. This covered 80% of the additional costs, for example, by which an electric bus is more expensive to purchase than a diesel bus.

ESWE Managing Director Marion Hebding reports: ‘ESWE-Verkehr has now covered almost 12 million kilometres fully electrically. This has saved around 14,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Our company expects to cover around 5 million kilometres with electric buses and save around 6,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.’

She continues: ‘Our environmentally friendly electric buses are on the road every day and have already helped to make public transport in Wiesbaden quieter and cleaner. With the overall package of the project, we are in an excellent technical position for these vehicles.’ She went on to thank the federal government, whose funding had made the project possible in the first place.

All in all, it can be said that Wiesbaden’s ESWE is very satisfied with its electric buses.

The future

The next step in the electrification of the Wiesbaden bus fleet is the purchase of articulated electric buses. The demonstration vehicle ‘MA-MV 3672’, a Mercedes-Benz eCitaro G, was also present at the appointment on 13 May. Wiesbaden’s Head of Transport Andreas Kowol: ‘The fleet of electric solo buses should now be increasingly supplemented with articulated buses in order to increase capacity, especially on the high-demand routes.’

ESWE has long complained that its depot on Gartenfeldstraße is too small – which has become really obvious: ESWE buses are not only parked in public spaces on Gartenfeldstraße, but also in car parks in the neighbourhood, which have been ‘converted’ into depots with construction fences. So: a new, second depot is urgently needed.

At the meeting on 13 May, it was reported that a solution to this problem was on the horizon. A suitable site had been found. When asked about the power supply to the site for electric buses, the answer was: ‘Very good. A high-voltage power line runs past the site.’ Nevertheless, it will be well into the thirties before this depot can accommodate the first buses. There is still more to be planned and built …   


Bus under charging traverse with ‘charging reel’, with Daimler Buses CEO Till Oberwörder, ESWE Managing Director Marion Hebding and Wiesbaden’s Head of Construction and Transport and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of ESWE Verkehrsgesellschaft Andreas Kowol | © Christian Marquordt
eCitaro G as a demonstration vehicle at the ESWE depot | © Christian Marquordt