4 Jul 2023
MAN continues to expand its electric bus portfolio. After the battery-electric solo and articulated versions, the little brother Lion’s City 10 E is now rolling out. The compact master of handling passed its first endurance test in the Dolomites with flying colours.
“Söl iade cun MAN Lion’s City 10 E – Les Dolomites é eletrisá.” This is Ladin – a language that is still spoken by around 30,000 people in the Val Gardena and Val Badia. Translated, this means: “On the road with the MAN Lion’s City 10 E – the Dolomites are electrified.” And indeed they were: MAN invited 16 international journalists to South Tyrol from 20 to 22 June to drive the new member of the Lion’s City E family through the beautiful South Tyrolean mountains. This is because the direction of travel of the Munich-based commercial vehicle manufacturer is clear: MAN is forging a path towards sustainable mobility and is fully committed to electric drive.
MAN's e-buses are on the line across Europe, with well over 1,000 vehicles already ordered in total. “We are looking forward to a challenging trip through the Dolomites with our fully electric and highly-manoeuvrable MAN Lion’s City 10 E,” says Robert Katzer, Head of Sales & Product Bus at MAN Truck & Bus, excitedly before they set off. “Our customers are thrilled with the reliability and comfort of our vehicles. We want to put significantly more electric buses on the road and in turn promote sustainable mobility.”
Following the launches of the MAN Lion’s City 12 E in 2020 and the Lion’s City 18 E in 2021, the Lion’s City 10 E now completes the series as its smallest member. With a length of 10.5 metres, a wheelbase of 4.4 metres and a record-breaking turning circle of 17.2 metres, the “midibus” is made for the narrow and winding roads in the shadow of the giant Sassolungo and Sella massifs. The bus journalists get to see this for themselves behind the wheel – and they are completely enthusiastic about the quiet bus. Automotive journalist Wolfgang Gomoll explains: “The new MAN electric bus seems extremely sleek to me. It’s not as bulky as many other buses and almost has the aesthetics of a car.”
Even on the first few metres from Klausen to St. Ulrich, the little lion impressively shows what it’s made of. Uphill, the electric bus, equipped with five battery packs on the roof, pulls relentlessly and whisper-quietly. When going downhill, driving expert Heinrich Degenhart from MAN ProfiDrive puts plenty of energy back into the bus with his sensitive “recuperation foot”. Speaking of energy: the MAN Lion’s City 10 E relies on the Group’s proven lithium-ion batteries. When fully loaded, as it was in the Dolomites, 400 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy are available. The bus then has a range of up to 300 kilometres, a peak power of 240 kW and a maximum torque of 2,100 Newton-metres. A maximum of 33 people can be seated in the e-bus, up to a total of 80 passengers.
Andreas W. Dick from the Austrian bus magazine Öbus is the first to be allowed to drive. He is enthusiastic about the bus’s acceleration and recuperation values. “The manufacturers have done their homework. The MAN Lion’s City 10 E is an all-round successful e-bus. Now it’s up to the politicians to provide the necessary infrastructure, so that we can see a lot of electric buses on our roads in the future.”
Back on the road: after the endless series of hairpin bends into Val Gardena, the bus passes the ski resorts of Ortisei, St. Cristina and Selva di Gardena. In winter, this area is famous for culinary specialities such as Schlutzkrapfen, Bombardino, Graukäse, Lagrein or Kartoffelplattln, as well as for the “Sellaronda”, a 40-kilometre-long ski route that leads around the Sella massif. Today, however, the tour group is not on skis, but on 275/70 R22.5 wheels, typical of city buses. The manoeuvrability of the Lion’s City 10 E is due not only to its short wheelbase and tight turning circle, but also to its sophisticated chassis with independent suspension and 56-degree steering angle. “The excellent chassis set-up, direct steering behaviour and shortened distance between the axles bring great advantages on this route. The bus is very manoeuvrable, and the three tonnes of batteries is hardly noticeable in cornering situations,” explains Degenhart.
The drive up the Gardena Pass (2,121 metres) is particularly twisty, and here, the “midibus” shows all its skills, taking on every hairpin, no matter how tight, with effortless ease. Degenhart smiles: he obviously enjoys the chase around the bends. On the following nine-kilometre descent to Corvara – where the Strada Statale 243 runs alongside a section of the famous “Sellaronda” ski circuit – the bus, under the professional guidance of driving coach Degenhart, almost completely recharges its batteries.
After a detour to the Valparola Pass and on to the village of Meransen, which lies picturesquely on a plateau, the tour then heads back towards Klausen. On the way, the group meets Armin Perathoner from Val Gardena, who runs a rental shop for electric mountain bikes, and who examines the bus like a spaceship: “I’ve never ridden in an electric bus before, never even seen one. It surprised me when suddenly the MAN Lion’s City 10 E was standing in front of my e-bike shop. I like the bus very much, it looks wonderfully futuristic. I would like to see electric buses on the road here in Val Gardena in the future.”
On each of the three test days in the Dolomites, the bus takes on between 165 and 200 kilometres of countless bends – left, right, uphill, downhill. The lowest point is at 523 metres, the highest at 2,168 metres above sea level. In total, the little lion climbs up and down more than 10,000 metres in altitude. And it quickly becomes clear that, in terms of electricity consumption, there is not much difference between this uphill-downhill journey and a classic public transport route in the flat countryside. This is because, what energy the electric bus uses during the climb, it recoups on the descent through recuperation. At the end of the 531-kilometre tour, the energy consumption averages 0.77 kWh per kilometre, thanks to innovative technology and a recuperation rate of over 50 per cent. “Outstanding value and the combination of compactness and performance totally convinced me. Our Lion’s City 10 E is the perfect solution for narrow and winding routes, whilst providing comfort for the passengers,” says Stephan Rudnitzky, Launch Manager MAN Lion’s City 10 E.
The MAN Lion’s City 10 E masters this demanding route, past rugged mountain ranges and lush green alpine meadows, efficiently and reliably. And it proves to be a fully-fledged member of the family – after all, its big brother the MAN Lion’s City 12 E completed the roughly 2,500-kilometre route from Munich to Limerick in Ireland like it was on rails during the “Electrifying Europe Tour 2022”.
Both journalists and officials at MAN are very impressed with the small Lion’s City E and leave the beautiful South Tyrol with a smile on their faces at the end of the Dolomites tour. On this trip, everyone agrees that the city bus became – a true “mountain bus”. Heinz Kiess, Head of Product Marketing Bus at MAN Truck & Bus, sums up: “After this demanding tour of the Dolomites, I am completely satisfied with our new MAN Lion’s City 10 E. The bus meets all the criteria we envisaged when we developed it. It is efficient, comfortable, extremely manoeuvrable and therefore the perfect companion on demanding routes. Our customers can expect a lot more from us in terms of electromobility in the coming years – and not only for regular service buses, but also for intercity buses and coaches.”
Text: Boris Pieritz
Photos: Lara Freiburger