500 Electric Buses For Belgium, 500 Fuel Cell Trucks For China

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The board of directors of the Flemish transport company De Lijn has approved an order for 92 standard (12 meter long) electric buses from BYD Europe. BYD manufactures its buses for the European market in Hungary. “With this order, De Lijn is resolutely continuing to green its fleet, with the aim of offering completely emission-free public transport by 2035,” said Ann Schoubs, director general of De Lijn. The order represents an investment of more than 43 million euros.

Up To 500 BYD Electric Buses

The order is the next step in achieving De Lijn’s objective to offer completely emissions free public transport by 2035. The company already has 109 articulated electric buses from Iveco, 6 midsize electric buses from Yes-EU, and 17 HOV electric buses from VDL on order. The Iveco order could expand to include a total of 500 electric buses by 2030. The BYD order could also be increased to a total of 500 electric buses in the future after De Lijn evaluates and assesses how the vehicles from different suppliers perform in real world revenue service.

De Lijn is an instrumentality of the Flemish government. It provides public transport by bus and tram in Flanders. The De Lijn network has approximately 1,000 lines and 36,000 stops. All together, the buses and trams make approximately 11 million journeys per year using its fleet of 2,250 buses and 400 trams. With almost 8,000 employees, De Lijn is one of the largest employers in the country. The company is the principal owner of Blue Bike, a bicycle sharing service that allows passengers to ride a bus or a tram and then complete the last part of their journey using a shared bike. De Lijn also plans to make 50 of its depots more environmentally friendly.

“These vehicles are produced in Hungary and will be delivered from the beginning of 2025,” says Schoubs. “They will have the same customer friendly equipment, such as USB charging points, an electric ramp, extra-wide screens, LED lighting and seats with recycled leather. The safety and comfort of our drivers have also been taken into account.”

Lydia Peeters, the Flemish minister of mobility and public works, said “This order for the next series of electric buses is excellent news for travelers and the achievement of our climate goals. [It is] an investment of more than 43 million euros in the further greening of the bus fleet. This means that diesel buses from a previous generation can be replaced by emissions free vehicles. We are satisfied that De Lijn has succeeded in deploying all the investment resources of the Flemish government for greening before 2023.”

For future orders of standard electric buses, De Lijn retains the option to order both from BYD in accordance with this latest agreement or take advantage of previous agreement awarded in 2021 to Van Hool and VDL. The cost over the entire life cycle, the technical quality, and the delivery time will play an important role in how the company decides to move forward with electrifying its fleet of buses. De Lijn expects to place 36 electric buses from Van Hool and 24 from VDL into service in the coming months. The first VDL vehicles have been made available to De Lijn and are currently being thoroughly tested.

500 Fuel Cell Delivery Trucks For China

In June, Hyundai opened a $1.1 billion fuel cell and manufacturing and technical center in the southern China city of Guangzhou — the first Hyundai fuel cell factory outside of South Korea. The facility can produce up to 6,500 fuel cell systems a year and includes a stack factory, a research building, offices, and an innovation center.

The government of Guangdong Province, whose capital is Guangzhou, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Hyundai HTWO Guangzhou to deliver 1,500 delivery vehicles, freezer trucks, road sweepers, and electric buses by the end of 2024. The vehicles are being supplied by H2 Solution, a joint venture between Hyundai HTWO Guangzhou and two local state owned enterprises. H2 Solution has already delivered 500 of the vehicles to the city of Guangzhou — the largest deployment of fuel cell vehicles in China to date.

According to local media, the partnership between the regional government and Hyundai could continue beyond the current order. Guangdong Province issued a municipal hydrogen plan in late December, saying that it wants to have 2,500 fuel cell vehicles on the road by 2025 and 10,000 in service by 2030.

Hyundai Motor Group is expanding its hydrogen business in China in anticipation of rapid market growth driven by the government. China’s national hydrogen strategy — called Hydrogen Energy Development Medium and Long Term Plan (2021-2035) — was announced in 2022 and aims to increase the number of hydrogen electric vehicles to 50,000 and annual green hydrogen production to between 100,000 and 200,000 tons by 2025.

CleanTechnica readers, being a curious and somewhat skeptical lot, would like to know more about how China plans to produce this so-called “green” hydrogen. The normal process involves passing a strong electric current through water to split it into its components — hydrogen and oxygen. The bond between the two is strong, which means it takes a lot of energy to separate them when they are combined into a molecule of water.

If the electricity needed is obtained from renewable energy sources such as solar panels or wind turbines, then the resulting hydrogen is in fact “green.” If, however, the electricity comes from coal powered thermal generating plants, than it really isn’t “green” hydrogen at all. The available news sources do not address that question.

Electric Buses And Trucks For The Win

News about electric buses and trucks is music to our ears. The truth of the matter is, as much as the world is focused on who is or isn’t buying electric cars, the real key to cleaning up emissions from the transportation sector is replacing the diesel engine. While it has been a reliable and willing workhorse for nearly a century, it produces lots of airborne crud that passes out of the tailpipe and into the atmosphere.

To make matters worse, a car may be in use for maybe 5 percent of a normal working day. Diesel powered trucks and buses are in use for 8 to 12 hours at a stretch, which means they contribute a disproportionate amount of pollution to the environment. An electric cement mixer may not interest a lot of people but from a climate point of view, electrifying one is a much bigger win for the Earth than a $2 million electric supercar that will get driven less than 100 miles a year.

The diesel engine deserves a place in the transportation hall of fame, but now it is time to move on to what’s next — heavy duty vehicles like electric buses, trucks, mining equipment, airport vehicles, cement mixers, fire trucks, ambulances, fork lifts and more that do not leave a trail of pollution in their wake. That is the future of transportation.


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