Bus Stop Outtake: Autotram Extra Grand – World’s Longest Bus

(first posted 10/28/2017)         As I’m sure readers and contributors to CC know, there’s a whole lot of photoshopping going on out there in cyberland – it’s easy to fall prey to some fantastic looking photo only to find out after a little research that it was bogus. I’m pretty certain this one is legitimate – this is an Autotram Extra Grand and at 30.73 meters (100.8 ft) long, is currently the world’s longest bus.

The Autotram was developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Transportation and Infrastructure Systems, a German research organization. Actual production is by a consortium of German manufacturers including TU Wittur Electric Drive GmbH, who developed the drive engines, and Dresden-based M&P Motion, Control and Power Electronics GmbH, who contributed the vehicle’s computers and super capacitors. Overall assembly is by bus manufacturer Göppel Bus GmbH.

And it likely needs lots of computers – the Autotram is a hybrid vehicle; but with two diesel engines, a 6.0 L IVECO N60 (inline 6 cylinder) and a 4.0 L Mercedes OM629 (V8). The IVECO is the primary power plant that feeds the generator that runs two electric traction motors, and also sends some juice to be stored in super capacitors. The Mercedes sends its power to be stored in the system’s lithium-ion batteries. The bus can run in pure electric mode for 8km, before the engines cut in.  You sure need some smart electronics to figure all that out…

The coach has five axles; axles 1, 3, 4 and 5 are steerable, giving this very long coach a much tighter turning radius than typical articulated buses.

Total capacity, seated and standing, is 256 passengers.

The bus was introduced in 2012, but it appears there have been few buyers. Two buses were bought for Shanghai and Beijing, and one was used as a demonstrator in Dresden. I couldn’t find any other users – perhaps because of the price – the demonstrator cost $10 million, and production models are supposedly around $1.5 million.

While not quite as large, most bus manufacturers today offer a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) bi-articulated model, at much lower cost. The Van Hool AGG330 above is 26 meters (81 ft) long and can hold 150 passengers – with a per-unit cost of around $250K.  Volvo also has a model it markets in Brazil that is 98 ft and with reduced seats (more standing) can hold over 300 passengers – but if you want the longest, the AEG is your bus…