Nothing less than the electrification of public transport in Europe's cities is the task Spain's leading bus manufacturer, Irizar, has taken on. How serious the company is about electromobility can be seen in Guipuzcoa. The Spanish province is home to Europe's first e-mobility factory for buses and trucks. Schunk, with its smart charging solutions, is an important strategic partner of Irizar.
Right in the heart of the Basque Country, Guipuzcoa is an important base camp for the triumphal onwards march of electromobility. On about 18,000 square meters that can sustain a production capacity of 1,000 vehicles, the bus manufacturer, Irizar, opened a factory like no other in Europe in 2018. Buses and trucks of the "ie" series are made here. Among them is the "ie Tram", a zero-emissions bus with the capacity, access and configuration of a streetcar. After an extensive analysis of the operator's requirements, Irizar developed the batteries for this vehicle. The goal was to ensure the greatest possible range the batteries could support. The solution the manufacturer devised was to offer two charging options: slower charging overnight in the depot, or quick charging during the journey itself. To be able to offer so much flexibility without sacrificing outstanding performance, when the project got underway in 2014 Irizar went for Schunk’s Smart Charging solutions. Schunk delivered the first prototypes to the Spaniards in 2016. Since then both partners have worked closely together to adapt the products to the needs of the significant and innovative e-bus market. Up till now, 50 pantographs have been installed. For 2019 Schunk is expecting at least as many orders.
Pantographs from Schunk are suitable both for recharging at stops and for charging overnight in the depot. The charging system for smart power transmission is already being used successfully in many other countries. It consists of two solutions: A roof-charging pantograph and an inverted pantograph. For charging along the route, the electric bus docks at a charging station, mounted at the individual bus stops, which can transfer up to 1,000 A through a pantograph. After just a few seconds, the bus has taken on enough charge for the next section of the route! The batteries are smaller and lighter that those of conventional charging systems, and the range of the vehicles over the entire period of use is guaranteed. The charging stations can also be integrated easily into the existing infrastructure. Communities and operators with many buses and trains in particular are coming to rely more and more on charging during the journey. The density of the network of stops, the length of the routes traveled, and the number of passengers are also important parameters to take into account when choosing the right charging strategy. For this purpose, Schunk, working closely with manufacturers and operators, always considers the specific needs of individual customers, offering the most advanced and flexible solution in the market.
As a provider of smart charging solutions, Schunk can draw on a wealth of experience gained in projects worldwide and its many years of experience in series production. It’s not only Spanish cities and municipalities that benefit from this. The number of electric vehicles in public transport is growing rapidly all across the world. As is the demand for Schunk's pantographs.