Van Hool, has landed a significant contract with RVK Köln and WSW Wuppertal (Germany), to supply 40 latest generation hydrogen buses. This order consists of 30 fuel cell buses for Cologne and 10 for Wuppertal, making it the largest order for hydrogen-powered vehicles ever been 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 are hybrid vehicles (fuel cell and batteries) of the Van Hool A330 type with dual axles and are12 metres long. They will be equipped with the latest FCvelocity-HD85 Fuel Cell module from Ballard Power Systems of Vancouver, Canada and fitted with a 210kW Siemens PEM electric traction motor.
The vehicles have 29 seats and 46 (Cologne) and 49 (Wuppertal) standing passengers, with space for two wheelchair users and a pram.
Thanks to the hybrid power source, the buses, with a tank capacity of 38.2kg of hydrogen on board, will be able to carry out a full day's schedule of 350km.
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. Thanks to this hybrid power source and the re-use of braking energy, around 8 kg of hydrogen are consumed over a distance of 100 km.
CEO Filip Van Hool, said: "Hydrogen buses are vehicles with a high added value and they're of major importance to the production facility in Koningshooikt. This unique order, the biggest ever for fuel cell buses in Europe, is a serious boost for hydrogen technology for public transport. All over Europe, public transport companies are working hard to “greenify” their bus fleets. We are happy that the German city of Cologne, where two Van Hool hydrogen buses have already been in service since May 2014, has responded in a particularly positive way to the experience. Sharing in their involvement with, and commitment to that experience will translate into an evolution of the newly commissioned vehicles".
Eugen Puderbach, CEO of Regionalverkehr Köln GmbH (RVK), adds: "Buses with hydrogen-powered fuel cells are among the most environmentally friendly vehicles in public transport. They don't emit any harmful substances and are much quieter than conventional city buses. By using 30 additional buses with fuel cells, we are steadily progressing on our chosen path towards sustainable public transport in our area".
Ulrich Jaeger, Business Manager at WSW mobil GmbH, adds: “Since electric buses in oiur 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.”
Van Hool has been building hydrogen buses for the American market since 2005 and for the European market since 2007.
So far, 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.
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 is an independent Belgian bus, coach and industrial vehicles manufacturer. The company, which was founded in 1947, is based in Koningshooikt. The majority of its production is destined for Europe and America. Van Hool has around 4,500 staff worldwide, the majority of whom work at the production facilities in Koningshooikt (Belgium) and Skopje (Macedonia).