With reporting by Rüdiger Schreiber
Before IAA and InnoTrans today Solaris launched the Urbino 18 hydrogen at Krakow. Almost 150 people were invited to the world premiere of the new bus. Not only journalist, most of them were customers.
There is only another fuel cell bus articulated model in operation in Europe: the Van Hool Exqui.City 18 FC launched in Pau (France).
Solaris showed the new articulated hydrogen bus at the traditional event “Solaris Talks”. Beside the talks the Urbino 18 hydrogen was the most important thing. The guests at Krakow and those who followed the event online waited for the most important figures, given at the end: up to 140 passengers and 350 km range. And Solaris named the gross vehicle weight for the new bus: 29.000 kg. The curb weight was not named, it depends on those things, clients wanted to have in their bus.
Solaris Urbino 18 hydrogen on delivery in 2023
The Urbino 18 hydrogen bus is now Solaris’s second fuel cell bus in its zero-emission offering, as it joins the 12-meter hydrogen-powered version launched in 2019.
“With the 18-meter Urbino hydrogen we are responding to the increasing demand for buses of this type on the market”, said Javier Calleja, the CEO of Solaris. Asking him to describe the bus within 3 words he said: “Fantastic, articulated and asked”. When asked where the Urbino 18 hydrogen would be first on the road, Calleja said: “On the roads of the first-buyers”. He added: “The first deliveries of this new bus will be possible as early as the second quarter of 2023”.
Important: the Urbino 18 hydrogen can be type-approved as a class II vehicle, which makes it possible to deploy it on inter-city routes. And, as usual for buses from Solaris, clients get the possibility of customising it to cater for their individual preferences.
Solaris Urbino 12 hydrogen, also for intercity operations
It’s the little things heard between the lines that make the bus so interesting. The heart of the Urbino 18 hydrogen bus is a cutting-edge fuel cell that acts as a miniature hydrogen power plant, Pawel Mankowski, leader of the hydrogen technologies team from Solaris, said. Hydrogen is transformed by the fuel cell into electricity which is then transferred to the driveline. Solaris new articulated bus doesn’t feature a conventional engine compartment as it has been equipped with a modular drive system. The space thus saved allowed the bus maker to increase the vehicle’s passenger capacity.
By eliminating the engine compartment more space on the roof has been created, where composite light hydrogen tanks with a total capacity of 51.2 kg have been mounted. The use of a modular drive also facilitates servicing as its main components are now accessible from floor level.
120 Solaris hydrogen buses on order at the moment
Solaris batteries with a capacity of around 60 kWh, mounted in the vehicle serve as an auxiliary power source, used, for example, during acceleration as well as a storage for recovered energy. Full refuelling of the vehicle takes around 20 minutes, Solaris explained during the world premiere.
The Solaris Urbino 12 hydrogen bus was launched in 2019. Since then, nearly 100 hydrogen 12m buses have already been delivered to customers in Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Poland. New deliveries to clients in Spain, France, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, amongst other countries, will start soon. And most of them asked for an articulated version, Romuald Witkowski, Director Project Management by Solaris, explained during the presentation.
The Solaris team answered almost every question except the price one. Yes, that also depends on the individual equipment. But with a view to the funding opportunities that the EU has not yet renewed, the price will be a decisive factor in the sale.
Solaris is confident that the hydrogen bus business will continue to grow: there are contracts for 120 Urbino 12 hydrogen from 20 customers until today, as Pawel Mankowski explained. And “the size of 18m with hydrogen drive is a wish of the transport companies”, he said.