The first Mercedes-Benz eCitaro bus has been delivered to Berlin's BVG. Supplied.
The first Mercedes-Benz eCitaro bus has been delivered to Berlin’s BVG. Supplied.

Berlin is now on the way to cleaner public transport, with the delivery of the first of 15 all-electric eCitaro buses from Mercedes-Benz for Berlin’s largest bus fleet, BVG.

The 15 electric buses from Mercedes-Benz will be joined in 2020 by 15 Urbino 12 articulated electric buses made by Poland’s Solaris, which jointly won a tender with the German auto giant in June, 2018.

“We are delighted that our eCitaro is now energising Berlin,” said Till Oberwörder, chief of Daimler Buses as he handed over the key for the first eCitaro in Berlin on Thursday.

“With the locally emission-free eCitaro, the BVG has opened up a new chapter in the story of environmentally-friendly mobility. Of particular importance to me, is the fact that we are also supporting our customer with tailored consultations and customised service packages as they gradually change over to electromobility.”

BVG chair Dr Sigrid Nikutta said: “We are improving the quality of life in Berlin. At present we have about a billion passengers annually and two-thirds of them are already transported electrically in the metro, on overground trams and on our solar-powered ferries.

“These first few series-production buses mark the start of changing our bus fleet to environmentally-friendly, electrically-driven vehicles.”

The transition to electric buses reinforces other measures to clean up Berlin’s air by reducing dangerous PM2.5 particulates and NOx levels emitted by diesel vehicles. In October 2018, the city of Berlin banned older diesel cars from driving in certain parts of the city.

The investment for the first 30 electric buses comes to 18 million euros ($A28.5 million), the company reports – and it is just the start.

With a goal to transition to the fleet to 100% electric by 2030, 225 electric buses have been planned so far, 15 of which will be articulated. Another 950 “low emissions” Citaro buses have also been ordered from Mercedes-Benz.

Overall, Berlin has earmarked 106 million euros ($A168 million) for BVG’s transition to zero emissions buses, 58 million ($A92 million) of which will be put to use by 2021, with a further 48 million euros ($A76 million) slated for 2022 and 2023.

The first 12-metre-long e-buses can seat around 65 passengers, are equipped with modern passenger information systems and a large multi-purpose area for passengers with wheelchairs, strollers, or luggage.

Unlike the an earlier generation of BVG electric buses, which are charged by induction at the terminal stops, the new eCitaro electric buses receive their energy via charging cable at the depot, providing a range of at least 150 kilometres and up to 250km in optimum conditions thanks to 10-pack, 243kWh battery modules in each bus.

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