Electric bus builders from Ukraine looking to breakthrough to EU
An increasing number of manufacturers from Eastern Europe are venturing into the electric city bus business. Aleksandra Fedorska took a look at the projects of Ukrainian manufacturers for electrive.
The projects and local companies look promising but still struggle with commercial and technical hurdles. For several years, bus building companies from Ukraine such as Electron and LAZ, Lviv, as well as Bogdan from Luzk have been trying to produce their own electric city buses to follow the example of the e-bus boom in Poland. Also Czech manufacturers first serve their own domestic market with a mature product range in order to be able to expand successfully into the EU later on.
Since the beginning of the 2010s, the press in Ukraine has been reporting more and more about such initiatives, which have resulted in the first prototypes of Ukrainian electric buses. However, after the manufacturer Electron succeeded in 2015 in building an electric city bus and integrating it into the conventional urban transport system of the city of Lviv, the other companies have intensified their efforts. At the end of last year, Bogdan presented plans for the first electric city bus developed entirely in-house. Production is due to start this year. The main challenge that Bogdan had set itself in its first own design of an electric bus was the self-imposed goal of designing the buses to have a range of 200 km. The drive motor with an output of 260 kW makes it possible to reach a speed of over 70 km/h. The 12-metre long prototype will be able to carry around 80 passengers.
Bogdan has also become known in Poland as a manufacturer in connection with the delivery of trolleybuses to Lublin. Bogdan worked together with the Polish company Ursus in this project. “Lublin is one of the three Polish cities, along with Tychy and Gdynia, that rely on trolleybuses. A total of 124 trolleybuses made by Ursus and Solaris are in operation in the city. The vehicles produced by Ursus in cooperation with Bogdan are just as convincing as all the others,” said Weronika Opasiak, press officer of Lublin’s transport authority.
The development of a dedicated electric bus is intended to give Ukrainian companies new perspectives. One option for the future is to export e-buses from Ukrainian production to the European Union. The Polish expert and editor-in-chief of the specialist portal infobus.pl, Aleksander Kierecki, is cautiously critical of their possible chances of establishing themselves on the European market: “The Eastern manufacturers still have some catching up to do in the areas of marketing, contract compliance and above all technical deficits in batteries. They are currently resorting to non-certified Chinese batteries, which are not generally not considered trustworthy by Western customers.