Flemish public transport operator orders 44 new articulated plug-in e-hybrid buses, upgrades 280 hybrids into e-hybrids
De Lijn, the public transport operator (PTO) in the Flemish part of Belgium, is ordering 44 new articulated plug-in e-hybrid buses; further, the operator confirmed the upgrade of 280 if its current hybrid buses into e-hybrids. Their extended zero-emission range will contribute significantly towards improving air quality in the cities these buses will service.
Lydia Peeters, Flemish minister of Mobility and Public Works, allocated €93 million of her EU COVID recovery budget towards a greener fleet for De Lijn, mainly for electric buses and their charging infrastructure.
De Lijn introduced its first hybrid buses in its fleet in 2009, and currently operates 530 hybrid buses.
The main advantage of e-hybrid buses over regular hybrids lays in their battery capacity. With regular hybrids, that capacity is limited: while they accelerate emission-free from standstill, their low-emission diesel engine kicks in after about 400 m to recharge their battery pack. With e-hybrids, their battery capacity is expanded, so that they can drive fully electric for an uninterrupted 15 to 100 km.—Lydia Peeters
The Flemish PTO will have 150 e-hybrids with a 15 km electric range, 90 e-hybrids with an e-range of 30 km and 84 articulated e-hybrids with a 100 km uninterrupted electric range. By preference, the battery packs of these e-hybrid buses will be charged at their depots; this will happen at night and during the day, when the e-hybrids return for short periods.
The main reason for depot charging is that De Lijn strictly purchases green electricity only. The batteries may also be recharged outside of urban areas while the buses are en route via their low-emission EUR6 diesel engines that have DPF filters. This will enable the e-hybrids to drive several emission-free cycles per day.
At this moment, the market cannot supply us with articulated electric buses with sufficient zero-emission range to meet our network requirements. As articulated buses represent a significant part of our fleet, De Lijn is keen to introduce a greener solution for this bus type in order to improve air quality soonest.—De Lijn’s Director-General Ann Schoubs
De Lijn says that it is the first public transport operator to invest heavily into e-hybrids with extended zero-emission range.