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HOCHBAHN e-buses lined up at the Alsterdorf bus depot

E-buses for Hamburg

E-buses: Clean public transport for Hamburg

The entire HOCHBAHN bus fleet will be eco-friendly models by 2030.

The revolution on Hamburg’s streets has begun! We’re replacing all our diesel buses – around 1,100 vehicles in total – with zero-emission buses. Battery-driven and fuel cell buses represent the mobility of the future in our city. Since 2020 we’ve been ordering electric buses only, and the first mass-produced “climate protectors” are already out and about in service on the city’s roads.  

Our roadmap to the future? By 2030, the entire HOCHBAHN fleet will be made up of zero-emission buses. 

The journey to greener bus journeys  

A vision becomes reality: At the end of 2018, the first e-bus ready for series production hit the streets of Hamburg. In summer 2020, we awarded a contract for up to 530 electric buses – in the largest tender of its kind to date in Germany. By 2025, the manufacturers, Daimler Buses, Solaris and MAN Truck & Bus, will be delivering this number of battery-fuelled buses to Hamburg, in both standard and articulated forms. We will already have around 200 new zero-emission buses in operation by the end of 2022, including electric articulated buses measuring 18 metres in length that are ready for series production for the first time. The first zero-emission articulated buses for HOCHBAHN have been in operation since summer 2021 and offer space for around 100 passengers. Depending on some particular conditions, they have a range of almost 200 kilometres – and save an average of approx. 80 tonnes of CO2 a year compared to a diesel bus. 

We’re investing in hydrogen too 

That’s why, in our efforts to move towards climate neutrality, we’ve also decided to rely on fuel cell buses with a long range. Powered by green hydrogen, they will form a large part of the quietest revolution Hamburg has ever seen, alongside the battery-driven buses. 

Fuelled by 100 percent green hydrogen, the buses are capable of at least 350-kilometre round trips – the same as a diesel bus. With this range they cover longer distances than electric buses (150-200 kilometres). That’s why they form a core part of our mobility strategy. These bus models have been in operation on Hamburg’s roads ever since the innovative “Line 109” was launched back in 2014. 

How sustainable are e-buses really? 

We don’t just want transport around Hamburg to be free of harmful emissions. We also want to be part of a much wider global movement. In the tender for e-buses, which will come to completion in 2020 and be the largest to date in Germany, we also applied sustainability criteria when awarding the contract. The flip side of climate-friendly electromobility is that battery-powered vehicles are being criticised for the potential negative ecological and social impact from production of the batteries required. 

The dilemma is that there is no standard certificate for a sustainably produced battery to date. We therefore wanted to know more from the bus manufacturers in the tender than just the sustainability performance at the bus production plant. We demand full transparency with respect to human rights due diligence relating to supplier management, and especially in the early stages of the value chain of the battery, as far back as the sourcing and extraction of raw materials. This way we’re aiming to achieve transparency all the way back to the production of cells. 

Click here to find out more about sustainable supply chains at HOCHBAHN.


Zero emissions for Hamburg - 5 facts: 

A HOCHBAHN electric bus on the road in Hamburg
  • Green zero: Since 2020, we have ordered zero-emission buses only 

  • Green-fuelled: The electricity used to power our e-buses is 100 percent high-quality certified green electricity 

  • Green charging: We’re building new bus depots and retrofitting our existing locations, in line with and in preparation for our conversion to zero-emission buses. In 2019, the most modern bus depot in Europe was opened in the Alsterdorf district. With more set to follow 

  • Green funding: The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation & Nuclear Safety (BMU) is funding the conversion of Hamburg’s public transport system to electric mobility, with an investment of 47 million euros. HOCHBAHN and VHH will use this money to purchase a total of 96 e-buses and 128 chargers 

  • Greener on the go: Even our diesel buses, which currently still make up the majority of Hamburg’s fleet, emit considerably less nitrogen oxides and particulate matter than their predecessors did. Since 2018, we have only been using vehicles with Euro 5 and Euro 6 standards 

The green foundation

Bus depots for electromobility: After Alsterdorf, a new HOCHBAHN location now follows in Meiendorf. More will follow to bring Hamburg into step with zero emissions.

Green loaded