German electric bus market continues to grow with eCitaro in the lead

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The Corona pandemic has hit the bus industry hard. Manufacturers had to accept losses, particularly in the coach sector. But the electric bus boom continues. Wim Chatrou has been researching bus registration numbers for years. For elective, he gave an exclusive look at his numbers.

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The Corona pandemic has hit the bus industry hard – while initially orders for city buses and intercity buses kept the balance somewhat in line, and here especially that of newly registered electric buses, the news Bus registrations in Germany for January, February and March 2022 show that numbers have not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels – the coach market is lacking.

Nevertheless, there is something positive to report: unlike coaches, business with regular and intercity buses is still doing well. “And at a relatively high level”, as Wim Chatrou explains. For 25 years, the Dutchman has taken a close interest in bus registration figures. Chatrou CME Solutions documentation is requested by manufacturers as well as market observers and analysts, electrive had an exclusive insight into the figures for the 1st quarter of 2022 and therefore also the figures for BEV and fuel cell buses.

In January 2022, 439 buses were newly registered, in February 321 and in March 385, according to the Federal Motor Transport Authority in Flensburg, which joins Chatrou’s figures and those of manufacturers. Last year the numbers were slightly higher: 458, 393 and 422 for the first three months of 2021.

If you look at the numbers in detail and focus on the alternative drives, you will discover some exciting things: In the case of battery-electric buses, a total of 68 electric buses were newly registered in Germany and a total of 563 in Europe in the 1st quarter of 2021. Comparing the figures for newly registered battery-electric buses with those of the previous year clearly shows that the boom seems endless.

In January, February and March 2022, 134 new BEV buses were registered in Germany, so in the 1st quarter of 2021 there were almost half as many in this segment. But the so-called electric bus boom is not a purely German phenomenon: Across Europe, 843 new vehicles were registered in the 1st quarter of 2022, 280 more than in the same period a year earlier.

More hydrogen buses in Germany, fewer in Europe

While the BEV bus segment is growing, the hydrogen bus segment seems to be contracting: in the first quarter of 2021, two new vehicles were registered in Germany and 50 in Europe. In the first quarter, there was growth in Germany (10 in total), but in all of Europe there are only 43 new H2 buses.

Caetano from Portugal registered three H2.City Gold vehicles in Germany in Q1, Solaris seven Urbino 12 hydrogen. Last year, only Solaris, the Polish brand under the Spanish CAF group, registered two new fuel cell buses in Germany in the first quarter of 2021.

And who will be on the podium for the winner of the BEV buses in Germany in the first quarter of 2022? The Mercedes-Benz eCitaro continues to dominate the electric bus segment in Germany with a total of 63 new registrations and still holds the 1st place.

Daimler Buses was already able to blow the plugs in January this year, thanks to the new battery electric buses registered in Germany in 2021 with the Federal Motor Transport Authority in Flensburg, 251 in total bore the star in the front mask. 251 of the 555 new electric buses in Germany in 2021 were from Mercedes-Benz. The German electric bus market has grown from 350 to 555 new vehicles compared to the previous year 2020.

Mercedes-Benz clearly ahead in Germany

Will this trend continue? Currently, one would like to think so, because the 63 new eCitaro from Mercedes-Benz in the first quarter of 2022 in Germany are once again far ahead of the competition. VDL takes 2nd place with 29 new Citea series electric buses, while MAN comes in 3rd place with 23 new Lion’s City E electric buses.

At the end of 2021, Mercedes-Benz was ahead of VDL with 251 eCitaro and MAN with 68 new electric bus registrations. The three manufacturers always seem to share the podium in this order.

It remains exciting in the true sense of the word that new listings will be registered in the next three quarters. Currently, the Mercedes-Benz eCitaro is in the lead. After ten years of intensive observation and analysis of the market, it is clear to Wim Chatrou that the electric bus sector remains very exciting: “Manufacturers are constantly changing places in the different countries, the first places in Europe are hotly contested.

The fact that there is movement in the game can be seen by looking at the first quarter in 2021 and 2022 in comparison: while Ebusco registered six new electric buses in the first quarter of 2021, no new electric buses from the Dutch company only appears in the first quarter of 2022. Heuliez or Iveco Bus registered only one new vehicle in the first quarter of last year, but this year there are already eight electric buses. Volvo Buses had no new electric buses registered in this country in the first quarter of 2021, but this year there were four vehicles. And Irizar also got trumps in the first quarter of 2021 with 13 electric buses, but in the first quarter of 2022 there is only one.

Besides the big brands, it is sometimes smaller players that trade up and down: Higer-Chariot, Karsan or Rampini were all represented in the statistics in Q1 2021 with BEV vehicles, in Q1 2022 they are absent with their electric buses. The major manufacturers have set their course: Daimler Buses made it clear during the eMobility Days in the presence of the Federal Minister of Transport that the era of diesel was over: the eCitaro will receive a fuel cell as a range extender after the 2nd battery generation, the short eCitaro K will be available from 2024.

And an electric intercity bus will arrive in 2025. An electric drive for coaches will be in the range from 2030. This remains exciting not only with regard to new registrations in the city bus sector and the shares in Germany and Europe.

With reporting by Rüdiger Schreiber, Germany.

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