Flix takes part in an ambitious project led by OEM Daimler Buses to develop a high-performance full-electric drive for long-distance buses within the next 4 years. Funding by the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action has already been secured with a parliamentary resolution.
The project entails testing of this technology on two prototype buses in real conditions, leveraging on the expertise and know-how of Flix in managing the widest bus network worldwide. Flix will continuously evaluate performances to ascertain in real time that all needed requirements are fulfilled to ensure operational efficiency, with a view to a long-term scalability to the FlixBus fleet.
«We believe in carbon neutrality for bus travel as a solution to de-carbonize travel completely. Since we launched FlixBus, we have been striving to reduce our environmental impact over and over by investigating alternative drives and enabling offsetting of our carbon footprint. With Daimler Buses and reliable research partners, sharing our vision of a greener future in transportation, we can now pursue another milestone towards our goal of reshaping mobility and offering green, technology-driven and still affordable travel solutions to everyone to discover the world», so André Schwämmlein, founder and CEO of Flix.
Along with Flix, some of Germany’s most prominent institutes for research and education in the field of technology have joined forces with Daimler Buses to work on the project, namely the KIT (Karlsruher Institute of Technology), the University of Mannheim and the Rheinland-Pfälzische Technische Universität Kaiserslautern-Landau, thus making it a virtuous cross-sectoral alliance.
On a journey to decarbonization: technology as a catalyst for environment safeguard
With this project, Flix, Daimler Buses and research partners aim at overcoming the technological obstacles around alternative drives which are preventing their implementation on long distances. Combining long-haul efficiency and operational flexibility while securing charging opportunities and an adequate capacity for passengers and luggage represents the biggest challenge.
For the development of such technology, a holistic approach is being pursued, taking into account a highly diverse range of factors. A modular drive will be conceived considering key parameters such as energy consumption, reach, driving performance and battery life, to be then related with cost-effectiveness, environmental impact and overall eligibility for usage in bus market.
After evaluation of the final concept, two prototype drivetrains will be integrated in demonstration coaches and tested in real operating conditions. Upon validation of the test results, the manufacturing of such vehicles will then be the starting point for a cost-effective production process of full-electric long-distance buses.
In line with alternative drives building an important part of its long-term vision of a carbon-neutral mobility, Flix will have a crucial role all along the process. The current FlixBus fleet will serve as a database for deduction of representative operational cycles on long-distance lines, and Flix will promptly evaluate operational properties of the solutions planned to carry out assumptions about a possible switch to long-distance battery-electric buses already in the making of the project. Besides, Flix will be involved in the validation of the demonstrator vehicles in real operating conditions.
Flix pioneering alternative drives in long-distance bus transport
On average, every travel on a long-distance bus of 400 km saves 6,6 kg of CO2 emissions per passenger by switching from cars to long-distance buses. Also, while a bus trip from Munich to Berlin produces around 15,6 kg of CO2, a flight on the same routes results in roughly 143 kg of CO2 emitted. Therefore, long-haul buses already count as a relatively sustainable travel mode.
However, a practical solution for the fully carbon-neutral operation of long-distance bus fleets in regular service is still lacking, which led Flix to test different solutions to speed up its journey to decarbonization: among others, first e-Bus pilot projects were conducted in France and Germany, after which the company tested solar panels and launched the first biogas FlixBuses. Being technology-open and expecting a future mix of different technologies in its vast network, Flix is also involved in the development of a hydrogen fuel cell coach through the funded project HyFleet.