The electric vehicle industry is developing very fast and so serious results can be found in public transport every year. The largest trade fair of its kind is Busworld in Belgium, where the Renergy team was also present to learn about the latest developments. The most important experiences are summarized in the report below.

Between 20 and 25 October 2017, one of the largest bus army parades in Europe was held again in Belgium. The host has been the city of Kortrijk for many times. At the biennial event, the major vehicle manufacturers and their related suppliers are represented in very large numbers. The quality of the event is well characterized by the fact that several premiere witnesses in the various sections were present. As an active player in the world of e-mobility, Renergy Consulting has set high expectations for it to learn first-hand about key information and develop and expand its current knowledge base.

Heading towards the entrance to the exhibition, the first sign that one has arrived in a good place is the dozens of buses lined up in the car parks, all of which provide a test opportunity for those interested until a test drive. Slightly excited to see the sight, we head for Alstom, who is waiting in the bus bay. The 12m Aptis is facing current trends. Fully electric, with four separate brain motors with roof-operated batteries and auxiliary power. Due to the wheels placed at the ends of the body (even in the case of the Modulo C68), an almost completely continuous 20m2 interior was created with a minimalist design. Passenger replacement is greatly facilitated by the absence of space-retarding elements, such as wheel drums, that slow down take-off and landing. A particularly exciting feature of the vehicle is that the wheels can be steered independently, thus ensuring a small turning circle with virtually zero sweeping. In addition, by turning the wheels in one direction, it is able to approach the stop with a sideways movement, thus saving several parking spaces in a crowded downtown environment. The manufacturer promises a range of around 200 km on a single charge, which is worth doing at the site in night mode. In addition, it is possible to draw current at the end of some lines in a short time on the basis of a pantograph or induction principle. The capacity of the plants is likely to be somewhere around 200 kw / h. It is definitely an interesting design, with a good chance of a new line of blow in addition to the buses with a traditional design, while taking full advantage of the electric drive. The only question now is how much the profession will make friends with the radical changes.

Entering the hall on the south side, one of the first exhibitors is Solaris, who represented the company in the field of alternative drives with a newly developed 18-meter electric articulated Urbino. It is never worth arguing about the exterior, but what is certain is that this form touches everyone one way or another. With the exception of the Urbino 8.9 HP, all available models have been given this current look. In the present case, it is powered by a 240 kw three-phase asynchronous motor with a battery capacity of 240 kw / h. The manufacturer flexibly resizes it to suit customer needs, although the ceiling is unknown. It is certain that by opening the lid of the rear engine compartment, a fairly large empty compartment became visible, which would be able to accommodate quite a few more kw / h. As the design of the bus is the same as the versions with internal combustion engine, it drives the drive onto the PTO shaft via the rear ZF AV 133 (1: 9.1) axle. Such solutions are available when a construction must meet a variety of criteria. The first conspicuous change in the passenger compartment is the design of the driver’s cab. Compared to the diesel-powered versions, they built an absolute 21st-century dashboard. Three liquid crystal displays replace the buttons and clocks. There are some common function buttons on the steering wheel to control door opening and kneeling. This is a really nice, ergonomic solution, especially in view of the fact that you have to look at the touch screen in all cases and there is still the possibility of making a mistake. This is why this solution is probably more for customers than for drivers.

Parts suppliers are also feeling the new winds are blowing in the world of bus manufacturing. We are meeting e-bus specific main units and auxiliary plants in more and more places. Of these, it is worth mentioning the heating and cooling equipment optimized for electric buses. It is particularly positive that in the field of climates, R744, that is, carbon dioxide, is appearing in more and more places instead of the traditional R134a gas (tetrafluoroethane). The impact on the environment is significantly lower than for conventional gases. For comparison, R134a has GWP = 1430, while R744 has GWP = 1. (Global Warming Potential) This makes it easier to neutralize, refill. It is a particularly positive thing that it can also be used in heat pump systems due to its high volumetric efficiency. When it comes to green transport, these qualities are also extremely important. Unfortunately, there are drawbacks as well. Such is the significantly higher standby and operating pressure, which raises the cost of components to the cost of operating the system.
One of the highlights of the exhibition was the Hungarian Silex Ipari Automatizálási Zrt. Its special feature is that it allows you to create a distance of 700mm between the wheel drums. This is an excellent result compared to competitors. The 8.5 ton load capacity means the use of midi buses around 8m. Currently available in 17.5 ”and 19.5” wheel sizes. The mechanical brake is a Knorr or Wabco disc brake.

The fact that the number of vehicles once equipped with hydrogen cells was limited to only 3-4 shows the current direction of development. As their application is specific to only a few regions, the viability of battery-operated systems is questionable due to the high operating and maintenance costs.

One of the most important cornerstones of the future of passenger transport is the development and spread of autonomous driving. The currently available lane departure warning, crash warning and driving aids are now available on almost all premium coaches. Full self-driving, on the other hand, is just an option for two very small series-closed micro-buses. Of these, the Navya represented itself as the only one. The curious visitor could take a ride with him in the parking lot. The concept of the French-based company is to offer the vehicle primarily for rent, not for purchase.

From the point of view of Hungarian bus production, the significance of the 12-meter, white bus exhibited at the BYD stand is that it is the first copy made in the Komárom factory. The specification of the brain-powered vehicle is not particularly exciting. At 2 × 90 kw engine power, a maximum torque of 2 × 400 Nm drives the rear axle. Based on the test in Pécs, it can be stated that the 15% adhesion given at full load is probably not valid in the long run. The battery pack is divided into two parts. Half of it is located on the roof and half in the engine room. The number of seats varies between 27 and 36, depending on the interior design, with a maximum capacity of 90 + 1.
Unfortunately, the only tangible result of the National Bus Manufacturing Strategy is currently the Chinese bus, and as the only “Hungarian” representative of the exhibition in the field of vehicle manufacturers.
Nowadays, no single bus manufacturer can afford to miss out on new market opportunities, so alternatives to different types with electric drive appear almost innumerable. Yet there are relatively few vehicles that have been specifically developed for e-buses from design onwards. Of these, if for no other reason, the Irizar ie tram stands out in terms of appearance and use of quality materials. 18.7m, 155 main passenger capacity, 235 kw, 2300 Nm, aluminum frame, ZF bridges, battery capacity between 90-150 kw.

By the end of the day, enriched with a large amount of new information, we went home to cut into domestic developments with renewed strength and enthusiasm at home, as we can see that if we want to (remain) competitive again, we have to meet the new challenges of the age.