ALTAS AUTO presented their first electric minibuses
Altas Auto Now Ready To Roll Out Their First All-Electric Buses Across European Minibus Markets
After a year of development amidst the backdrop of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Altas Auto is now ready to conquer the European electric vehicle with its range of full-EV minibuses
In July 2020, Altas Auto and its technical partner Elinta Motors (a Lithuania-based manufacturer of electric motors for electric vehicles) announced their plans to develop a range of mass-produced electric buses for the European market.
As a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic, both Altas Auto and Elinta Motors turned their efforts to fine-tuning the all-electric buses they had in the pipeline for launch later last year.
According to Edvardas Radzevičius – the CEO of Altas Auto – the development afforded to the company as a result of COVID-19 meant they could focus on improving the products the originally designed for a post-pandemic world, and an EV market which has grown in the last year.
“More than a year ago in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic we decided that it would be critical to focus on developing and improving our innovative all-electric buses for a world and EV market which has changed dramatically over the last year,” he said.
Over the past year, engineers from both companies have designed three different buses, carried out all the necessary testing and certification work for each one, and prepared their factories for the mass production of their electrified buses.
Furthermore, engine power tests, safety tests for batteries and other electric vehicle parts, plus shock and vibration tests, and other operational tests for passive safety systems – EABS, ABS and ESP – have also already been carried out.
The lane departure warning indicator and noise levels have also been to ensure the complete safety of the electric buses and their occupants.
The electric motor used in the buses has already covered over 4,000,000 kilometres in testing, and the prototype buses made by Altas Auto have covered a similar 10,000 kilometres in testing across several different European countries with different climates.
This ambitions, pan-European R&D strategy allows Altas Auto and Elinta Motors to see how their products operate in different weather conditions.
So far, over EUR 1m has been spent on R&D and active investment continues which is expected to lead to the development of more all-electric models, and to the upgrading of existing buses to ensure they can be charged even faster and enjoy a longer range to cover longer distances.
The Public Has Already Met The First All-Electric Altas Auto Buses
The first bus prototypes were unveiled at a launch event at the Altas Auto factory in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. These models were the Altas Auto EV Ecoline and EV Cityline.
Both models have been built with suburban riders and areas in mind. The EV Ecoline can carry 19 passengers, and EV Cityline city bus can accommodate up to 18 riders.
The EV Ecoline and the EV Cityline are both powered by three battery packs with a total capacity of 115 kWh, which supply electricity to a 150 kW electric motor. Both buses can travel over 200 kilometres on a single charge in urban conditions, which is more than enough for residential areas.
The electric buses are equipped with fast charging equipment, which boats more than 70 kW worth of charging power. This allows the batteries to be charged to EV-industry recommended 80% charge limit in little faster than within 2 hours.
According to Altas Auto, the cost of electricity will be under 8 euros per-100 kilometres.
During the development of both buses, the engineers at Altas Auto chose to abandon a traditional gearbox as found on buses with an ICE (Internal Combustion Engine). Instead, they fitted an electric motor which transmits power directly to the rear gearbox, which makes the EV drivetrain more efficient than standard diesel models.
At first glance, the electric minibuses may look similar on the outside to their ICE-powered cousins. However, Altas Auto’s electric bus models are set apart by certain design features inside and out. For example, the cockpit dials have been re-defined for the driver to clearly reflect the readings relevant for electric motor vehicles.
Every Altas Auto Electric Mini Bus Needs To Be Different…
According Mr. Radzevičius, the equipment fitted to each of Altas Auto’s electric minibuses depends on its designated markets.
For example, the electric Altas Auto models are adapted for passengers suffering from physical limitations. EV Ecoline and the EV Cityline buses feature folding ramps for wheelchairs. Meanwhile, suburban buses have several different interior configuration options, which can be provided with integrated lifts for passengers with specific needs.
Together with 18 of its foreign partners, Altas Auto will sell buses fitted with the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis, which is the most popular bus on the European minibus market and is considered to be best suited for modifying.
Long-term warranties and automatic customer notification of upcoming maintenance
Depending on their intended use and specification, the Altas Auto EV Ecoline and the EV Cityline will cost between EUR 160,000 to EUR 180,000. This excludes VAT and any government EV subsidies that operators may be eligible for in certain European markets.
“We are already can see that our products will definitely be in demand and competitive, but we also understand that so far, they are significantly more expensive vehicle than diesel buses,” said Mr. Radzevičius. “As a way of offsetting these costs, we are actively monitoring the electric vehicle market to set ourselves goals to further improve our products to give our clients the maximum benefits that come with EV adoption.”
All Altas Auto buses are granted a 24-month warranty. Meanwhile, batteries come with a 60-month warranty. Maintenance will be fully carried out by Altas Auto EV specialists. What’s more, the upkeep and servicing of these models is much simpler and cheaper than in conventional diesel buses.
The technical parameters of all Altas Auto electric buses are constantly monitored by the manufacturer, meaning customers will be informed about the results of remote diagnostics. This will make servicing much easier, as all faults will be detected on the spot.
As a result, our technical systems mean that users will be immediately informed of any faults or upcoming services. They will also be notified of if they need to book their electric in for an appointment with our technical experts. Our systems also ensure that any necessary components can be ordered at the moment of an unlikely part failure.
The Altas Auto EV Ecoline and the EV Cityline are not the first vehicles to be made by the company. In 2018, it introduced the Altas Viator medium-sized bus, which was praised by industry media and experts from across Europe.
Altas EV Ecoline / EV Cityline parameters:
Total weight: 5,500 kg
Engine power: 150 kW.
Battery capacity: 115 kWh.
Average energy consumption: 0-50 kWh/100 km.
Maximum charging power: 70 kW.
Charging speed (up to 80%): Around 90 minutes.
Mileage on one charge in real-world conditions: 200 km.
Maximum speed: 70-90 km/h (can be changed according to needs).