Urban Transport

AutoTram Extra Grand carries 256 people

AutoTram Extra Grand carries 256 people
The AutoTram Extra Grand (Photo: Fraunhofer IVI)
The AutoTram Extra Grand (Photo: Fraunhofer IVI)
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The AutoTram Extra Grand carries 256 passengers (Photo: Fraunhofer IVI)
The AutoTram Extra Grand carries 256 passengers (Photo: Fraunhofer IVI)
The AutoTram Extra Grand (Photo: Fraunhofer IVI)
The AutoTram Extra Grand (Photo: Fraunhofer IVI)

Love them or hate them, bendy buses are impressive. You see one coming around a corner looking like an ordinary bus, then comes the articulated bit and then more bus. Now the unveiling in Dresden, Germany, of the AutoTram Extra Grand raises the bar with a bendy bus that’s more like a bendy train. With three sections, measuring over 30 meters (100 ft) long and a passenger capacity of 256, it’s the world’s longest bus.

Urban mass transportation is an exercise in paradoxes. The very things that make it so necessary make it so difficult. Pack hundreds of thousands of people in a small area and moving them around becomes a major problem. Unfortunately, that very population density doesn’t leave much room for roads, rail lines or other systems. One solution is that if the available systems aren’t suitable, then borrow technology from one, add it to another to create a third – like the AutoTram.

This is the approach that created the AutoTram Extra Grand. A joint venture of Fraunhofer IVI, the Technical University Dresden and Wittur Electric Drive GmbH, the Autotram isn’t just a standard bendy bus with an extra section tacked on. It uses train technology, adds it to buses and makes them suitable for urban areas where trains are not a practical solution to transportation problems.

The AutoTram Extra Grand carries 256 passengers (Photo: Fraunhofer IVI)
The AutoTram Extra Grand carries 256 passengers (Photo: Fraunhofer IVI)

With four guided axles, three controlled by an electrohydraulic actuator system, the AutoTram can be steered forward and backwards like a standard-size bus while computer controls handle the steering of the individual sections so that they follow along like railway cars on a track. This system works so well that drivers don’t even need a special license to operate the Autotram.

A hybrid electric vehicle, the AutoTram Extra Grand has a seating capacity of 96 and with standing capacity can carry a total of 256. Power comes from two diesel “power packs” consisting of six and eight cylinder generators putting out 220 kW and 235 kW respectively. These are backed up by 420 kW supercapacitors and 120 kW lithium-ion batteries. Fraunhofer IVI has also equipped the AutoTram with control algorithms to ensure efficient energy management and allow the giant bus to travel up to eight kilometers (5 mi) on battery power alone.

Source: Fraunhofer IVI via Designlaunches

Only 96 seated passengers, are you sure?
The single vehicle commuter buses in my city have almost that many. Perhaps you mean 96 in each module, unless the interior of the bus has been gutted of seats and it's been optimised for strap hangers.
Mike Hallett
It strikes me that this is a very inefficient use of limited city road space and a potential nightmare for pedestrians and cyclists, regardless of how easy it is for the driver. Shorter (than this monstrosity) double-decker buses make more sense in my opinion. In fact, I believe London is now getting rid of its Bendy-Buses, if it hasn't already.
London is getting rid of its bendy buses, as Mike Hallett says- they don't work well in an overcrowded road space in a city like London- too many accidents, too many incidents of them getting stuck and causing traffic chaos, and also the fact that the Mercedes Benz Citaro bendy bus that was used was notoriously prone to catching fire.
That said, bendy buses do work well in Amsterdam, so I see no reason why they couldn't work in other similar cities. Just not in London!
Is it bigger than Biarticulated bus in Curitiba, Brazil??
In Europe, maybe...
Bruce H. Anderson
An interesting concept. And I actually read the article. A typical tour bus might hold 45-55 people, and 30 meters is longer than 28 meters, just in case anyone was wondering.
Now wouldn't that make a dandy motor home conversion? I can just vision asking for an extra long pull through at the KOA. LOL!
The concept is cool but way too expensive drive train.
I'd drop back to 80' and drop the 2 axle car for a single axle again cutting costs, weight.
Next it should be built in composites at 1/3 the weight saving fuel, drivetrain costs.
A simple 100hp NG motor with a 100hp E motor on each axle and 50kwhr of batteries on my version would cut energy, drivetrain costs by 75% from the lighter weight, high eff.