In the light of the first electric, open-top double-decker sightseeing bus in London, according to Ralf Arnold, Managing Director of Ziehl-Abegg Automotive, “electromobility is making quiet but inexorable progress”. The bus operator “The Original Tour”, is a subsidiary of the international RATP Group. The double-decker was built at Unvi in Spain, the motor comes from Ziehl-Abegg in Kupferzell (Germany).
Unvi is the world’s largest manufacturer of city tour buses with a reputation for custom-built vehicles. The Spaniards have chosen experienced component manufacturers as partners: BMZ for the batteries, Ziehl-Abegg Automotive for the powertrain and SAV Studio for the system integration.
The challenge posed by open-top, double-decker buses is enormous: since they don’t have a roof, it’s impossible to position any batteries on the top of the vehicle. “Since our drive unit is the most efficient in the world, the battery packs can be smaller than with any other motor concepts,” says Arnold.
Notwithstanding the legal requirements, there are significant disadvantages with diesel sightseeing buses compared to electrically powered buses: because the constant starting and stopping puts a great strain on the both the engine and gearbox, is very heavy on fuel consumption and the energy is completely dissipated during braking – in electric buses by contrast, the braking energy is used to recharge the battery.
The electric, open-top, double-decker bus which has started operating in London is 12 metres long and has twin axles. Inside the bus there is seating for 75 people. The vehicle is designed for a range of 150 kilometres so the key performance data is the same as on a conventionally-powered city tour bus – but with enormous advantages in terms of noise and emission levels.
Ronan Bois, business unit director for sightseeing at RATP Dev, emphasises: “Every day, people rely on us for discovering the best of the world’s most iconic cities and we’re investing in innovation for a new type of sightseeing bus. We’re proud to be the first sightseeing network to introduce a 100% electric bus in London” and adds: “this marks another important step in the RATP Group’s commitment to energy transition. Its success is due to a strong partnership between the team at ‘The Original Tour London’ and four European manufacturers, including Ziehl-Abegg which developed the electric powertrain system.”
In the current year, new open-top, double-decker buses for city tours have already been put into service in Paris and Amsterdam. Arnold is pleased to state that “our electric drive ZAwheel is available for the operators of hop-on/hop-off lines for new vehicles or for retrofitting”. An open-top, double-decker bus from the year 1975 which will roll quietly through the streets of Berlin thanks to ZAwheel, went on display for the first time at the IAA Commercial Vehicles trade fair.
With its ZAwheel, Ziehl-Abegg, the electric motor manufacturer, offers a genuine wheel hub drive: the motor, together with all the control electronics, is mounted in the wheel hub. Since gearboxes are energy “guzzlers”, the ZAwheel technology is more efficient than electric motors that are just mounted on the wheel hub and drive the wheel via a gearbox. Since the ZAwheel does not need a gearbox, there are no associated maintenance costs – not to mention the absence of wear and tear.
About RATP Dev
Founded in 2002, RATP Dev operates and maintains urban transportation systems in 14 countries on four continents (United Kingdom, France, Italy, Switzerland, Algeria, Morocco, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, India, China, South Korea, the Philippines, and the United States of America). With more than 1.5 billion passengers travelling on its networks every year, RATP Dev demonstrates every day its extensive and renowned expertise in a wide range of mobility services, ranging from rail, regional express rail, tramway, to bus, cable car and sightseeing activities. RATP Dev leverages in France, outside of Paris, and across international markets, the technical expertise and experience of RATP Group, the leader in driverless and tramway operations and operator of the Paris network, one of the largest public transportation networks in the world.
About The Original Tour
“The Original Tour” is part of RATP Dev and its parent company RATP Group, a world leader in public transport, and is a key member of the Extrapolitan alliance. Launched in 2015, Extrapolitan is an alliance of hop-on hop-off sightseeing providers, operating in 19 cities worldwide. Extrapolitan offers tours in Paris, London, Hong Kong, Nice, Marseille, Stockholm, Tallinn, Riga, Copenhagen, Berlin, Athens, Helsinki, Bath, Windsor, Cardiff, Budapest, Split, Rome and Monaco. Within this alliance, sightseeing operators provide the best service offerings and benefit from the strength of a global network.
Ziehl-Abegg (Kuenzelsau, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany) is one of the leading global companies in the field of ventilation, control and drive technology. Another area of business is electric motors which provide the power, for example, for elevators, medical applications (computer tomography equipment) or deep-sea underwater vehicles. The theme of electro-mobility for motor vehicles was established as part of the Ziehl-Abegg Automotive Team in 2012.
The high-tech company has an impressive innovative capability. Ziehl-Abegg employs 2,200 personnel in its production plants in Southern Germany. The company has a global workforce of 3,900 spread between 16 production plants, 28 companies and 108 sales locations. The products, approx. 30,000 in all, are sold in more than 100 countries. Turnover in 2017 totaled 540 million euros, with exports accounting for three quarters of the figure.
Emil Ziehl founded the company in Berlin in 1910 as a manufacturer of electric motors. After the Second World War the company’s headquarters were relocated to Southern Germany. Ziehl-Abegg SE is not a listed company but instead is family-owned. For more information go to www.ziehl-abegg.com.
“The Original Tour” has put the first, all-electric, open-top double-decker sightseeing bus into service in London’s Westminster district.
PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo / Matt Alexander/PA Wire