SCANDINAVIAN ‘TRAMBUS’ ORDER HIGHLIGHTS ‘E-TECH POWER’

By: Fabian Cotter, Photography by: courtesy Van Hool (Europe)


BELGIAN BUS builder Van Hool has secured an order to build 21 fully ‘zero-emission’ electric trambuses - aka a common-sense light-rail alternative - for Swedish operator Nobina, the largest passenger transport company in Scandinavia, it reports.

SCANDINAVIAN ‘TRAMBUS’ ORDER HIGHLIGHTS ‘E-TECH POWER’
The Exqui.City combines the flexibility of a bus with the efficiency of a tram, Van Hool explains.

Van Hool - an independent manufacturer of buses, coaches and industrial vehicles that has produced more than 1,200 electrically powered vehicles - is to deliver the 24-metre ‘Exqui.City’ model articulated trambuses for service mid-2022 in Malmo, Sweden, the company confirms.

The use of buses versus light-rail has always been a contentious issue within global transport circles, with invariably the pros and cons siding with buses, sundry sources will site, in terms of costs - depending on a city’s commuter movement objectives.

Locally, even the Public Transport Users Association of Victoria dispels the ‘urban myth’ that ‘heavy rail costs too much; we should build light rail instead’ while Sydneysiders are still absorbing the news from late 2019 when the NSW Auditor-General found the city’s light-rail project was $150 million over budget when it opened then.

Add in the capability of a ‘light-rail-looking vehicle on wheels’ and the advantageous bus-cost argument arguably solidifies tenfold - though seemingly still taboo in this region.

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Since 2014, 15 Van Hool hybrid articulated trambuses have been operating in Malmo, so this Euro order seems to be a natural progression as the e-technology advances.

These forthcoming new vehicles are plug-in battery-electric and will be charged in the Nobina depot in Malmo, Van Hool confirms.

"This order confirms the confidence that Nobina has in Van Hool. This is a new and important reference for Van Hool and it represents the undeniable proof of the company's technological power," said Van Hool CEO Filip Van Hool.

"Van Hool is fully committed to its 100 per cent zero-emission bus and coach range.

"We are convinced that the various 100 per cent zero-emission solutions we offer - battery-electric, trolley and hydrogen - can, depending on the local application, provide an answer to the environmental and sustainability initiatives that public transport companies worldwide are undertaking.

"As an independent Belgian manufacturer of buses and coaches, with customers all over the world, we have delivered no fewer than 1,200 electrically powered vehicles, so far Van Hool’s strength lies in the fact that we have gained a lot of experience in various complex types of electrically powered vehicles, including 100 per cent battery electric vehicles, and the charging infrastructure that goes with it," he explained.

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FUTURISTIC DESIGN

"We feel pride in continuing this journey together with SkŒnetrafiken and Van Hool, introducing the next generation of 24-metre, fully electric zero-emission tram buses - the first of its kind in the Nordics. Further developing the modern, safe and sustainable public traffic solution in Malmo," said Jens RŒsten, fleet manager at the Nobina Group.

The Exqui.City combines the flexibility of a bus with the efficiency of a tram, Van Hool explains. These trambuses have a distinct futuristic design and a high level of comfort with air conditioning, low noise levels and soft lighting, it adds. They offer optimal accessibility with a low boarding height, and easy entry and exit thanks to the four double doors, it says.

This type of vehicle is built on a multi-power platform that is now 100 per cent zero emission: battery-electric, trolley and hydrogen, Van Hool highlights. This platform makes the Exqui.City, in both the 18- and 24-metre versions, a basis for the use of these different eco-friendly power systems, it states.

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TRAMBUS SPREAD

Available in 18- and 24-metre versions, the Exqui.City offers, "…a realistic answer to the demand for safe, environmentally friendly, efficient and cost-effective urban public transport," Vah Hool says. There are already more than 300 trambuses operating in 17 cities, primarily in Europe, but also in Martinique (a French overseas ‘department’ in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies in the eastern Caribbean Sea).

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ABOUT VAN HOOL

Van Hool is an independent Belgian bus, coach and industrial vehicle manufacturer, it states. The company, founded in 1947, is based in Koningshooikt. The majority of units produced are destined for Europe and the US, it confirms.

Van Hool has around 3,300 staff worldwide, the majority of whom work at the production facilities in Koningshooikt, Belgium, and Skopje, north Macedonia.

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