A milestone for the Mercedes-Benz eCitaro: More than 1,000 units of the low-floor electric bus rolled off the production line in Mannheim. In the nearly five years since its start of series production at the end of 2018, the eCitaro has become a true success story.
This is not only confirmed by many large orders from cities such as Hamburg, Dresden, Bremen, Wiesbaden and Mannheim – transport companies in France, Italy, Sweden, Poland, Austria, Switzerland and many other European countries are also putting their trust in the electric bus with the star.
“The Mercedes-Benz eCitaro is a permanent fixture in electromobility for city buses,” says Mirko Sgodda, Head of Marketing, Sales & Customer Services at Daimler Buses. “It is safe, reliable and economical to operate. With its novel modern design, it also shows how elegant electromobility can be. And by having been embedded in the electromobility system, the eCitaro unfolds to its full potential. On request, customers are provided with support in the transition to electromobility with turnkey solutions from a single source consisting of electric buses, charging infrastructure and depot management.”
The Mercedes-Benz eCitaro combines the tried and tested platform of the best-selling Mercedes-Benz city bus of all time with new technological solutions and a novel design. In 2018, the eCitaro was initially launched as a solo bus with a battery capacity of up to 243 kWh. From the outset, the new innovative thermal management system reduced the energy needed for heating, ventilation and air conditioning by around 40 percent compared to the internal combustion engine Citaro, thus laying the foundations to give the eCitaro a practical range.
The next development steps to follow at short intervals had already been outlined at its introduction. So, besides depot charging, it wasn’t long before there were solutions for opportunity charging for the eCitaro. With the second battery generation, the driving range was extended without increasing the weight, opening the way for the successful eCitaro G articulated bus, which was launched onto the market in mid-2020. Another milestone at the end of 2022 was marked by the introduction of the third generation of high-performance lithium-ion batteries with the main components nickel, manganese and cobalt oxide (NMC). They increase the capacity of the battery cells by 50 percent at the same weight, thus allowing driving ranges of up to 280 kilometres (solo bus).
For even longer routes – i.e. almost 100% of all transport operator requirements – eCitaro fuel cell is ideal for extending the driving range. It enjoyed its world premiere at the beginning of June at the Global Public Transport Summit 2023 in Barcelona. In the currently available articulated bus variant, the eCitaro fuel cell can run for around 350 kilometres without recharging, while offering space for up to 128 passengers. The basis of the eCitaro fuel cell is a battery-electric drive system with NMC 3 high-performance batteries, while the fuel cell with an output of 60 kW serves as a hydrogen-based electricity generator to extend the driving range. This combination enables particularly economical operation because electricity from the grid is available at a lower price than green hydrogen. Compared to a hydrogen-only vehicle with a small buffer battery, the eCitaro fuel cell is also much better at storing the energy recovered by recuperation when braking fully and profitably in the large batteries.
With its clever concept, its innovative and reliable technology, its unrivalled high level of safety and its solid workmanship, the eCitaro has got not only transport operators, but also journalists and experts excited. In this year’s electric bus comparative test conducted by the bus magazine Omnibusspiegel, an expert panel of around 20 journalists and as many representatives from transport companies voted eCitaro the Electric Bus Champion 2023. In its current version with high-efficiency NMC 3 batteries, the eCitaro comprehensively beat a field of five competitors in the four-day test on demanding routes in Bonn’s urban area.