Van Hool and Ballard Power Systems are working together to supply 40 hydrogen (H2) buses to the German cities of Cologne and Wuppertal, which the Belgian bus manufacturer says is the largest order ever for H2-powered vehicles in Europe.

The order consists of 30 fuel cell buses for Cologne and 10 for Wuppertal and they will be equipped with the latest FCvelocity ®-HD85 Fuel Cell module from Ballard Power Systems.

Ballard received a Letter of Intent (LOI) from Van Hool for 40 FCveloCity®-HD fuel cell engines to power the buses under the Joint Initative for Hydrogen Vehicles Across Europe (JIVE) funding programme. These buses are expected to be the first fuel cell bus deployments supported under JIVE I.

The 40 buses will be powered by Ballard FCveloCity®-HD 85 kilowatt fuel cell engines, which Ballard expects to receive a purchase order for and to begin shipping in the second half of 2018. Van Hool plans to deploy 30 of these buses with the Regionalverkehr Köln GmbH transit agency in the city of Cologne and plans to deploy the remaining 10 buses with WSW mobil GmbH transit agency in Wuppertal with deliveries expected to begin in 2019.

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Source: Van Hool

“There is momentum in the growing global deployments of fuel cell technology for heavy duty transportation applications,” explained Rob Campbell, Ballard’s Chief Commercial Officer. “Where transit buses and other heavy vehicles are typically characterised by high utilisation rates together with the need for rapid refueling, fuel cell electric platforms are an especially attractive zero-emission alternative. We are very pleased with this progress and expect to begin work soon with Van Hool in fulfilling initial buses under the JIVE I program, in addition to the engines we announced last September for use in Van Hool tram-buses planned for deployment in Pau, France.”

Van Hool’s CEO Filip Van Hool enthused, “This unique order, the biggest ever for fuel cell buses in Europe, is a serious boost for H2 technology for public transport. All over Europe, public transport companies are working hard to ‘greenify’ their bus fleets. We are happy that the German city of Cologne, where two Van Hool H2 buses have already been in service since May 2014, has responded in a particularly positive way to the experience. Sharing in their involvement with, and commitment to that experience will translate into an evolution of the newly commissioned vehicles.”