The first of ten new Mercedes-Benz Citaro FuelCELL-Hybrid buses has appeared in Hamburg, Germany as part of a large-scale fleet trial taking place there and in other European cities. Two major features of this latest-generation fuel cell hybrid bus are that it emits no pollutants while in motion and is virtually silent, making it ideal for use in highly congested inner cities and metropolitan areas. From next year, ten of the 30 vehicles that Daimler Buses is producing for European transport operators are destined for the Hamburg transport authority. Hamburger Hochbahn will take delivery of the remaining 20 buses.

This roll-out is a follow-up to two successful projects undertaken by the European Union - CUTE (2003) and HyFLEET:CUTE (2009). In the HyFLEET:CUTE project, a total of 36 Mercedes-Benz Citaro buses equipped with the second-generation fuel cell drive systems demonstrated their ability to function reliably over a combined 140,000 hours of operation where they traveled 2.2 million kilometers for 12 public transport agencies on three continents.

“The new Citaro FuelCELL-Hybrid clearly demonstrates that electric mobility is already feasible today also with commercial vehicles,” says Hartmut Schick, head of Daimler Buses.

Daimler AG says it achieves manufacturing economies for the Citaro FuelCELL-Hybrid and the B-Class F-CELL by using common parts, such as fuel cell stacks. For example: the new Citaro FuelCELL-Hybrid bus is powered by two fuel cell systems of the same type used in the B-Class F-CELL.

Utilizing improved fuel cell components and hybridization with lithium-ion batteries, the Citaro FuelCELL-Hybrid consumes almost 50 percent less hydrogen compared to the preceding generation. The operating range of the fuel cell bus is around 250km (155 miles) and Daimler AG says that the fuel cell drive system is also practically maintenance-free with a long operating life, desirable by public transport operators.

Global undertaking

The company says its global initiative “Shaping Future Transportation” consolidates all the activities for sustainable mobility in the commercial vehicles sector at Daimler AG. Its aim is to use clean, efficient drive systems along with alternative fuels to realize zero-emissions while maintaining the highest possible safety levels in its new ranges of commercial vehicles.

Prof Kohler, Vice President e-drive & Future Mobility at Daimler AG, says: “Our intensive research and development conducted since 1994 has enabled us to bring the fuel cell to series production maturity. This enables us to entrust two fully practical electric vehicles with battery-electric and fuel cell drive systems to our customers - the smart fortwo electric drive and the B-Class F-CELL. The main objective now is to achieve a competitive cost level in comparison with conventionally-powered vehicles and to create a full infrastructure of electric and hydrogen filling stations in cooperation with energy providers and the petroleum industry.”

To this end, Daimler is cooperating with the Hamburg city council as well as with Shell, Total and Vattenfall Europe. The aim is to create an appropriate infrastructure of hydrogen filling stations that would support an emission-free fleet. The project is part of the Clean Energy Partnership in Hamburg and Berlin. It is being supported by the Federal German Government as part of the National Innovation Program for hydrogen and fuel cell technology (NIP).

As part of this cooperation, four public filling stations with hydrogen pumps are to be built in Hamburg, enabling fuel cell vehicles to be refueled within minutes. Thanks to the high hydrogen pressure of 700bar, their operating range will then exceed 400km (250 miles) making locally emission-free fuel cell vehicles fully suited to long-distance operations.

View gallery - 3 images