Berlin aims to bridge technology gap with gas

Berlin transport operator BVG wants to buy compressed natural gas buses as a stepping stone towards fleet electrification.

It has invited European manufacturers to lend vehicles for evaluation, starting with a 12m Mercedes-Benz Citaro NGT on loan from EvoBus. An MAN is due in March. ‘The trials are designed to find out if CNG can act as a bridge technology until we can electrify the fleet,’ says BVG’s bus chief Torsten Mareck. Their performance will be measured against Euro6 diesels.

BVG has specified that gas buses must be capable of at least 500km (310miles) between fills. ‘The emphasis is on fuel consumption, refuelling procedures, operating range and how the buses perform in daily service,’ says Mareck.

Electric buses remain rare in the German capital where three Solaris Urbinos have been on trial using Bombardier Primove opportunity charging technology since August 2015.

BVG operated small numbers of Mercedes-Benz and MAN gas buses until 2000 but later abandoned CNG, saying that lengthy gas-filling sessions kept the vehicles off the road for too long.