Thanks to 100 kW of power, the MAN eTGE feels right at home in Berlin traffic.
Switching to alternative drives: Berlin's public transport operator Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) is modernizing its fleet and is fully committed to e-mobility. Since the end of 2018, five MAN eTGE have been among the e-commercial vehicles that are initiating the transport changeover in the company. The electrically powered vans consistently run on green electricity and also impress with their economy and driving comfort.
"He drives very quietly and smoothly. The acceleration is clearly noticeable. Before a traffic light I let the van roll out gently and recover energy for the battery by recuperation." This is how Daniel Dech describes his impressions of the MAN eTGE. The Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) have purchased five battery-powered vans. Daniel Dech was at the steering wheel during the test and transfer drives. "In terms of driving dynamics, the e-vehicle is in no way behind the combustion engines," says Dech, clearing up a widespread prejudice against e-mobility.
The subject of environmentally friendly e-drives is a major issue for the Berlin public transport company. "We want to be pioneers in e-mobility," says Heinrich Coenen, head of the internal BVG fleet. "If we manage to convert the entire vehicle portfolio to sustainability, other large transport and traffic companies will be able to do the same," he is confident.
At BVG, Heinrich Coenen is one of the responsible persons for e-mobility, digitalisation and innovative energy management. The internal vehicle fleet he manages comprises 400 vehicles. This also includes vans of various categories, such as the five new MAN eTGE. They are used as service vehicles - and also serve as a testing ground for the 100% electrification of the entire BVG fleet. By 2025 Coenen wants to completely electrify the internal fleet. From 2030 onwards, the BVG bus fleet, currently around 1,500 vehicles, will then also transport its passengers exclusively with locally emission-free propulsion. Berlin is showing how e-mobility can successfully work in public transport.
E-mobility pays off
Environmental protection in road traffic is worth it economically as well. For BVG fleet manager Heinrich Coenen, MAN's electric vans are ideal objects for testing the logistically and economically efficient use of electric vehicles. "Our vans generally have short distances to cover and a long service life, so that loading times and required ranges can be easily planned. In addition, many cold starts are necessary during operation, which cause particularly high emissions with conventional drives," explains fleet manager Coenen.
The advantages of e-mobility can therefore be fully utilised when using MAN eTGE. The advantages of e-vans include not only complete freedom from local emissions, but also the low cost structure when operating with green electricity. The acquisition costs of the eTGE are paid off after just a few years of use. "If e-vehicles are produced and sold in even larger quantities in the future, break-even will be reached even faster," calculates Coenen. For him, it is therefore clear: "Electric mobility pays off not only ecologically, but also economically. I am convinced of that."
BVG has been using MAN eTGE in the entire city of Berlin since the end of 2018. The five vans are on the road every day in two-shift mode. They transport internal company mail or drive to stations, tracks and other locations for service and maintenance work. The service vans are equipped with rack systems in the cargo area to transport tools, spare parts and materials in an orderly and safe manner. Even heavy tram and underground railway axles reach their destination via MAN eTGE. The 100 kW electric motor always provides sufficient electrical power: BVG sets up generally a separate AC charging station with 11 kW for each electric vehicle so that the battery can be charged right after the shift.
Daniel Dech, fleet manager at BVG, when loading the MAN eTGE: "The pre-air conditioning regulates the temperature before the start while the van is being loaded.”
High driving comfort in the MAN eTGE
"With a range of around 120 kilometres in urban operation, we are doing pretty well," reports fleet manager Daniel Dech. This is very important, because a stopover at a quick charging station is often not possible. "The drivers want to park the vehicles directly at the place of operation so that they do not have to carry far tools and materials," says Dech.
The environmentally friendly e-transporter has another particular advantage in winter times: "The pre-climate control regulates the temperature before the start, while the van is plugged-in. And we can run the air conditioning and engine without exhaust emissions and noise even when the vehicle is at a standstill," explains Daniel Dech. In the interior, the MAN transporters also offer high-quality materials.
Meanwhile, BVG fleet manager Heinrich Coenen is working on further improving the general conditions for the use of e-mobility. Together with other companies such as Stromnetz Berlin and Berliner Stadtreinigung (BSR), BVG has launched the Smart eFleets research project. Together, the project partners are building up carpool sharing and a network of fast charging points in order to be able to use e-commercial vehicles at any time, even during peak periods. Heinrich Coenen is also pushing ahead with innovations in the energy management of Berlin's public transport companies. His aim is to coordinate the low-cost availability of green electricity with both e-fleet management and building management in order to optimally balance environmental friendliness and cost efficiency.
The fleet manager knows from experience: "In order to consistently make the most of the advantages of electromobility, companies should not only change their vehicle portfolio, but also their processes". At BVG, the age of sustainable solutions has already begun.
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