By: Fabian Cotter

PLANS FOR A new company to retrofit around 100 Euro 3 Berlin double-deckers with zero-emission electric running gear have been confirmed by local city media and leading bus-event organisation, Busworld.

Ziehl-Abegg’s individually suspended wheel hub motors and a modular construction kit for the suspension will be used in the Berlin diesel-to-electric bus retrofit.

According to the latter, the buses were formerly operated by the Berlin public transport company BVG and the new as-yet named company will be able to handle around 150 retrofits per year.

With most of these 100 double deckers around 30 years old they are equipped with, at best, Euro 3 diesel engines, reports state.

As Busworld explains, a combination of three companies want to convert all old diesel buses into electric ones, with the first zero-emission vehicles expected to be in used on Berlin streets later in 2019.


Bodybuilder Tassima, control and drive technology specialist Ziehl-Abegg, and service provider IAV are the three companies intending to rebuild 25 buses this year and then up to a 100 in 2020.

A production site is being built near Berlin in Ragow, south of Schönefeld, which should be operating at the start of the second quarter this year - the same period the first rebuilt buses are due to leave the factory.



As Busworld explains, Tassima was founded by the former MD (until 2006) of city tour business organiser Gulliver's Travels. It operates nine city tour buses. Affiliated also with Tassima is Berlin City Tour (BCT), which operates 52 SD 200 and SD 202 diesel buses.

The SD 200 bus came on the market in 1973 specifically for the BVG of West Berlin as the successor to the Bussing DE. Three prototypes of the SD 202 were built in 1982 and 1983 as a successor to the SD 200. Yet it was not until 1985 the SD 200 came into full production. BCT had already converted three buses as research vehicles with subsidies from the Berlin Senate, it says.




Ziehl-Abegg will supply the electric drive axle, in which the electric motor and the power electronics are integrated into the wheel hubs.

The Berlin IAV will be responsible for system integration and engineering and, apparently, is also developing the batteries.

Reports state the buses will be powered by a lithium-ion battery with a storage capacity of 145kWh. The range will be a 120 kilometres, with a charging time on a 380-volt connection of six hours.



Electric motor manufacturer Ziehl-Abegg’s individually suspended wheel hub motors (ZAwheel) and a modular construction kit for the suspension - classic pneumatic or hydropneumatic – are to be used in these Berlin bus rebuilds.

The ZAwheel can be used in both new vehicles and retrofit older buses. Ziehl-Abegg designs, develops and produces the electric drive axle as a plug-and-play conversion kit for diesel-powered vehicles, the company states.

With the electric motors and power electronics integrated into the hubs, this leads to a compact design, which is particularly suitable for low-floor buses, it claims. It adds that the traction battery is designed for this purpose and adapted in size according to the range requirement. It is housed after the conversion, with other equipment, where the diesel engine once resided, the company explains.

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Ziehl-Abegg, located in Künzelsau, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, is one of the leading international companies in the field of air, control and drive technology, it says. Applications include heating and cooling systems or clean room and agricultural facilities, as well as electric motors that drive, for example, in elevators, medical applications (computed tomography) or deep-sea submersibles. Electro-mobility in road traffic was accomplished in 2012 via the Ziehl-Abegg Automotive division. 

Ziehl-Abegg employs 2,200 people in production plants in southern Germany, with 3,900 employees worldwide.

Emil Ziehl founded the company in 1910 as a manufacturer of electric motors. Ziehl-Abegg SE is not listed and is family-owned.

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