Far more than just a city bus: the Mercedes-Benz eCitaro as part of the local public transport eMobility ecosystem

  • The challenge of electric mobility: rethinking city bus travel
  • eMobility Consulting: detailed practical advice for transport operators
  • Omniplus Service: new concepts for the challenges of high-voltage technology
  • Model workshop Dortmund: exemplary facilities, comprehensive training

The new all-electric Mercedes-Benz eCitaro is far more than just a city bus: It is part of Daimler Buses' integrated eMobility system. It encompasses the pre-purchase expert advisory services of the eMobility Consulting Team. This considers the issues of cycle planning scheduling, existing infrastructure, and the specific transport operator processes in the areas of planning, scheduling, maintenance and repair. Omniplus Service offers tailor-made service concepts for electric mobility, right through to services provided in the customer's own workshop.

The challenge of electric mobility: rethinking city bus travel

Electric mobility presents a challenge, as experienced by buyers of private passenger cars thinking about their route to work or their plans for a weekend outing. And it is one that is all the more tricky for transport operators, who have to work with a tight and intricate nexus of route networks, timetables, cycles and duty rosters. In an ideal world, they would like to see a straightforward 1:1 replacement of city buses with combustion engine by all-electric buses. However, this is normally not possibly without some intervention, making meticulous preparation indispensable – electric mobility means rethinking the way buses are used for city mobility.

In addition to the higher costs and possible subsidies for electric buses, key factors when changing over to electric mobility include detailed consideration of energy consumption and the resultant range, as well as passenger capacity, charging strategy including the energy supply and, finally, service - from equipping the customer's workshop through to differentiated training of their staff. Another key factor in the operation of electric buses is the issue of operational assistance. Merging depot, infrastructure and the bus data allows making effective decisions in daily operations.

eMobility Consulting: detailed practical advice for transport operators

This is where eMobility Consulting from Daimler Buses comes in. Experienced employees begin by demonstrating the performance capability of the eCitaro to transport operators, moving on to sound out the companies' ideas and expectations. In the next step, each route is individually analysed, recording a plethora of data that ranges from the length of the route to passenger numbers and average speed. Even the outside temperatures play a role: Due to the increased energy consumption required for heating and climate control, they have significant impact on the range of electric city buses. A simulation programme developed in-house then calculates the energy needs.

The experts evaluate the individual scenarios and link them to one another. A series of different variants are the outcome, from the standard data acquisition with a calculation of range to the issue of charge management and even the organisation of the bus depot. The experts' detailed knowledge of their own company's buses, their close contacts to the engineers in Development and their professional relationship, based on trust, with the transport operators prove advantageous here – and result in a unique level of expertise relating to buses as a transport system.

At the end of all this, the experts are able to provide precise recommendations and calculations. They take into account the charging infrastructure, energy consumption, the load capability of the power supply at the depot, the charge management system and finally the operational integration of the eCitaro. The recommendations are practical and detailed. For example, in cases where daily mileages are high, they also comprise mixed services or opportunity charging at the depot as an alternative to external charging stations, because the latter are expensive and may also be subject to longer approval procedures.

What is more: In addition, transport operators receive basic information from eMobility Consulting about employee training, workshop equipment and facilities as well as the right servicing concept already in advance.

Omniplus Service: new concepts for the challenges of high-voltage technology

Service, maintenance and repair are also significantly different with electric mobility. Tasks related to combustion engines, emission control systems and automatic transmissions are eliminated; the focus now is on high-voltage technology. It requires different operational processes. For example, individual battery modules can be replaced, if needed. This in turn requires deactivating the high-voltage system.

The 'Omniplus' service brand of Daimler Buses has therefore prepared a special eMobility service concept. Transport operators can select appropriate modules from within this to suit their individual needs. Options range from the classic supervision of the customer's workshop through to workshop services allied to service contracts, completed in Daimler-based competence centres and, at the top end of the scale, BusDepot Management: In this case, Omniplus employees undertake a defined scope of work, which may extend to full all-round service management of the vehicles, directly at the customer's workshop. This process has already been proven to work effectively at several locations in Europe.

Model workshop Dortmund: exemplary facilities, comprehensive training

Transport operators can learn about equipping a workshop for all-electric buses in the Omniplus model workshop at the training centre in Dortmund. This unrivalled facility is equipped in exemplary fashion - from insulated tools and platforms for working on the roof to a traversing crane for removing and installing battery modules, and the high-voltage warehouse facility with integrated fire protection system for battery modules. Companies also have the opportunity there to learn about health and safety regulations and other topics related to high-voltage technology such as, for example, working with live wires when repairing battery modules.

Dortmund is far more than a demonstration workshop - it is home to intensive qualification and training, because only properly prepared employees are permitted to enter a workshop with electric vehicles, let alone work with high-voltage technology. The Omniplus service brand has developed a complete qualification concept in consideration of the customer requests, from raising awareness about high voltage and training of specialists to preparing trainers. The training is conducted for the own employees as well as for the staff of transport operators. As part of the introduction of the all-electric Citaro, the concept is being expanded Europe-wide.

The foundation is provided by a wealth of experience in dealing with high-voltage technology: Some 1200 employees have already received advanced training in Dortmund for the previous generation of hybrid and fuel-cell buses in less than ten years.

In addition, Omniplus offers training on the eCitaro. It spans a broad spectrum from introductory training without high-voltage technology to training for rescuers. In so doing, Omniplus rounds off its training offering in line with the needs.