Siemens debuts world’s first electric bus charger capable of serving different manufacturers


The city of Hamburg in Germany has seen the debut of the world’s first electric bus charging system capable of recharging buses from different manufacturers.

Hamburger Hochbahn, which operates the city’s metro and large parts of its bus network, has begun the operation of three additional electric buses (e-buses) on its ‘innovation line’ route 109. The battery-powered buses, built by Polish company Solaris, will be charged at the same Siemens charging stations that also power the plug-in hybrid buses from Volvo, which have been serving Hamburg since the end of 2014. This makes Siemens the first supplier worldwide to provide a charging infrastructure for e-buses that ensures interoperability for vehicles from different manufacturers.

Each of the two charging terminals has a capacity of 300kW and has two charging stations. The stations can provide the buses with enough energy to enable them to operate for a full day from terminal to terminal on Line 109. The charging operation takes only around six minutes. The charging stations are located in the Bus-Port (ZOB) in downtown Hamburg, and in Alsterdorf. The charging process is per open international standards IEC 61851 and ISO 15118 that are the basis for e-bus charging systems. The open standards enable vehicles from different manufacturers to use the same charging system. This solution allows operators to select their e-buses independently of the charging infrastructure, and ensures their interoperability.

The three battery-powered buses from Solaris are equipped with an onboard charging system from Siemens, which is designed for the quick-charge stations. Having both the onboard equipment and charging infrastructure provided by one supplier not only makes interoperability possible, but optimally harmonizes the systems on the basis of open international standards. By equipping the buses with Siemens charging equipment, vehicles of every type and from different manufacturers can easily be integrated into one system.

Climate and environmentally-friendly urban mass transit is a vital component for improving the quality of air in cities for the benefit of its inhabitants. Municipal bus services are increasingly becoming the object of attention, because the buses currently in use around the world are almost always powered by internal combustion engines. In order to lower the harmful emissions associated with them, urban transit operators are turning to alternative propulsion systems for buses, with electro-mobility playing an important role.

Siemens offers public utilities, operators and municipalities a complete system that has been specially developed for inner-city line service using electric buses. It includes the drive motors and power converters for the vehicles, as well as the necessary external charging stations.

The fully automatic charging system is designed not only for electric bus and electric bus rapid transit (eBRT) systems, but also for plug-in hybrid vehicles. It uses the common communication standard for electro-mobility and can be operated as an open system for charging the various types of buses. It is supplied as a turnkey charging system that includes everything from the required electrical and structural engineering services, to integration into the existing power supply grids.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).