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Van Hool to build 40 hydrogen buses for Cologne and Wuppertal (Germany); largest fuel cell bus order in Europe to date

Van Hool, the Belgium-based independent bus, coach and industrial vehicles manufacturer, has landed a significant contract with RVK Köln and WSW Wuppertal (Germany), to supply 40 hydrogen buses of the latest generation. This order consists of 30 fuel cell buses for Cologne and 10 for Wuppertal, making it the largest order for hydrogen-powered vehicles yet placed in Europe. These high-tech vehicles will be built in the Van Hool factory in Koningshooikt. The first buses will be delivered in the spring of 2019.

The 40 hydrogen buses for Cologne (30) and Wuppertal (10) are hybrid vehicles (fuel cell and batteries) of the Van Hool A330 type with dual axles and a length of 12 meters. They will be equipped with the latest FCvelocity-HD85 85 kW fuel cell modules from Ballard Power Systems and fitted with 210kW Siemens PEM electric traction motors. The bus is designed for 29 seats and 46 (Cologne) and 49 (Wuppertal) standing passengers, with space for two wheelchair users and a stroller.


With to the hybrid power source, the buses, with a tank capacity of 38.2 kg of hydrogen on board, will be able to carry out a full day’s schedule of 350 km (217 miles).

Since electric buses in our public transport network do not offer the necessary range, we are pleased that with fuel cells we can use an environmentally friendly drive system in Wuppertal. As we also produce hydrogen with an environmentally friendly method, our project is a one-stop-shop.

—Ulrich Jaeger, Business Manager at WSW mobil GmbH

Together with the lithium batteries and electric motors, the fuel cells form the basis of the all-electric power source. Hydrogen is converted to electricity in the fuel cell, with water vapour as its only emission, while the batteries provide additional power wherever and whenever needed. With this hybrid power source and the re-use of braking energy, around 8 kg of hydrogen are consumed over a distance of 100 km.

Ballard believes that its fuel cell engine product line has an unparalleled performance record. The company’s seven generations of FCveloCity fuel cell systems have been deployed in buses in 15 countries on 5 continents during the past 10 years. These fuel cell systems powered buses that have travelled more than 12 million kilometers (7.45 million miles) cumulatively in revenue service, equivalent to circling the globe 299 times.

In addition, Ballard believes that its FCveloCity products have demonstrated industry-leading durability, as evidenced by more than 25,000 hours of revenue service in buses of the Transport for London fuel cell bus.

The procurement of new vehicles fits into the framework of Germany’s national innovation program for hydrogen and fuel cell technology (NIP), and is financed by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI), financed by the “Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking” (FCH JU), the European public-private partnership is aimed at accelerating the market introduction of fuel cells and hydrogen technology, operating under the EU Horizon 2020 program.

Van Hool has been building hydrogen buses for the American market since 2005 and for the European market since 2007. By now, Van Hool has produced 53 hydrogen buses for North America (21) and Europe (32). The eight hydrogen-powered tram-buses Van Hool is manufacturing for Pau (France) should be added to this total. These are to be delivered in the second half of 2019.



HTPEM with liquid reformer could be good for buses.

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