Daimler Buses develops flexible, modular EV charging concept

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 05 Aug 2019


Preparing for the market launch of high-output charging, Daimler Buses has equipped its Mannheim bus plant in Germany with a central charging station for the fully-electric eCitaro. It can also be used to provide the newly released eCitaro with electricity via a pantograph.

The special feature of this charging station is that the charging devices are suspended at a height of around five metres above the ground. The station serves to charge the eCitaro as part of the production process and ahead of delivery to customers. Plus, new charging technologies such as charging management, new communications protocols, new hardware for charging using a cable or a roof-mounted pantograph can be tried and tested. What's more, the infrastructure is expandable as required.

Compatible with all common charging technologies
The charging station is compatible with all common charging technologies: 150 kW cable-bound charging, 300 kW rapid charging using a pantograph on the bus roof and 300 kW rapid charging using a permanently installed set of charging rails on the roof of the bus. In technical jargon, the latter is referred to as an inverted pantograph.

All four parking bays are setup to handle the particularly common cable-bound charging of the eCitaro. And in line with this, it can handle the different charging systems of two manufacturers. Using them, buses can be charged with an output of 150 kW. Two parking bays additionally offer rapid charging via the vehicle roof; one uses a pantograph, the other uses charging rails. In both cases, the charging output is 300 kW. The entire system has a modular design to ensure that it can be expanded as required.

Trading places
As space in the bus plant is at a premium, Mercedes-Benz has decided to move off the ground, installing the eCitaro charging station at the height of the upper floor of the building. An idea which many transport companies also use. It doesn't just save space, it also protects against costly accidents between manoeuvring buses and the charging technology.

The electric charging station is located directly behind the vehicle handover hall and thus has a strategically interesting location. To save electrically-powered city buses from having to carry out complex manoeuvring, the charging station has been built in a space-saving way to resemble a bridge. The city buses drive straight under the charging station and park right there for charging.

The charging station has four parking bays. It uses four charging devices with 150 kW output each and two with 300 kW each. The six charging devices enjoy shared use by three different technologies and two different manufacturers. The total connection power at the charging station is an impressive 1.2 megawatts. The corresponding cables are roughly as thick as a human arm and run in an extendible cable channel in the ground.

The charging station is positioned on a total of ten pillars and is accessible from all sides. For service purposes, wide steps lead up to the charging devices on the upper deck, as it were. These are protected against the influences of the weather by means of a roof.