The presentation of the electric Mercedes-Benz eCitaro G is Belgian and the first in the world

The presentation of the electric Mercedes-Benz eCitaro G is Belgian and the first in the world

Multiobus from Tienen, Belgium, recently took delivery of the first two Mercedes-Benz eCitaro G buses. The two new electric buses, described are part of a planned order of ten buses, but are also the first Mercedes-Benz buses of this type to be delivered. in Belgium.

The order follows the fatal fire that hit Multiobus last October. Now the company is showing that it is once again committed to an electrified future. A change that Multiobus is also openly supported by Daimler Truck Financial Services (DTFS), which offers a ten-year lease contract for both vehicles. Immediately the first two lease agreements from DTFS for the eCitaro G worldwide.

Multiobus is a group of SMEs (small, medium and small enterprises) that work in regional transport in Flemish Brabant and have also been using Mercedes-Benz buses through these companies for years. This group is made up of the bus companies P. Van Mullem, Van Mullem & Zonen, De Vlinder and Demerstee. The last company is mainly active in tourist transport, while the first three companies focus on public transport for De Lijn in Leuven-. Leuven Diest-Tienen triangle. Four different companies decided to merge into the Multiobus group in 2016.

Since then, Multilobus has five depots and runs a total of one hundred scheduled buses. In addition, five buses are working in the transport of students, while the other five are working in the transport of employees. The ship is surrounded by seven coaches. Daimler buses today account for almost 50 percent of the fleet. “Setting standards will be the future, which is why it is important to choose a strong partner who also provides excellent technical service. Daimler Buses is a strong partner for us,” says Olivier Van Mullem, managing director of Multiobus, who leads the group with his colleague Jo Van Pee.

Keeping green on board

Multiobus has been working hard on fleet maintenance for several years. “We have been focusing on electricity supply since 2018 and we had a well-defined plan for this. The big fire last October definitely meant a big blow to the bill. Then 22 buses caught fire after a fire broke out in a closed shed. Unfortunately, we also lost 13 electric buses. We were well on our way to reaching the goal of 50 percent electric buses for De Lijn by the deadline of July 1, 2025,” says Olivier Van Mullem.

However, Multiobus did not give up, because, thanks to the help from its colleagues and importers, bus services were able to resume very quickly. “There was a lot of work involved, but here we are four months later and once again we are at full speed when it comes to electrification. Shortly before the fire, during Busworld, we had already ordered a number of new buses and, with and the second-hand Citaros we found in Germany, this helped us take a big step forward,” emphasizes Van Mullem.

Multiobus has now turned necessity into opportunity and is using what it learned from the fire in building new infrastructure. “We have learned things about fire prevention in the warehouse. For example, from now on we will choose an open warehouse, because the temperature in closed warehouses is very high in the event of a fire, which usually causes more damage. Where possible we will split up. Another lesson we were able to learn is that good data collection about buildings, vehicles and infrastructure is important for reconstructing facts and events,” says Van Mullem.

It is not a never ending story

The arrival of two new eCitaros also marks a Belgian first. Initially they will be sent mainly on the line Tienen – Sint-Truiden. A versatile line, where the eCitaro G with its space for up to 115 people can make a difference. “Tienen – Sint-Truiden is a line where many articulated buses are used. Although I must add right away that there is a lot of mixed operation in Multiobus and articulated and regular buses are often used together,” says Van Mullem.

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Olivier Van Mullem, Managing Director of Multiobus: “The arrival of two new Mercedes-Benz eCitaro Gs underlines that our green ambitions have not been hampered by the fire that consumed us in October 2023.”

Specified ECitaro Gs will also be used regularly on weekends. Then they run longer than during the week, because the express buses are mainly used as rush hour buses on weekdays. “However, we chose not to use the eCitaro G immediately on the most difficult route. We must of course take into account the freedom of the vehicles. Although it turns out that this freedom is also very much related to the driver. It is already clear that the planned electric buses can be fully integrated into the operation of the route of our buses, although at the moment we are still slowed down by our original charging infrastructure, because it was also heavily damaged by the fire,” the manager says.

In addition to the two eCitaro Gs, Multiobus will put eight more eCitaros into service in the coming weeks and months. It brings the company from Tienen back to the speed of electric travel. By the way, electricity is not the last story for Multiobus. “The demand for 50 percent electric vehicles by the middle of 2025 from De Lijn is of course our first goal, but we also really believe in planned electric buses as an environmentally friendly alternative in public transport with the performance of state of the art,” Van Mullem explains.

It has been well received

The eCitaro G was well received by Multiobus drivers. After all, the driver’s station gets all the credit. Especially the fact that the entire operating space seems very solid, then it is not noisy and responds well are good points. “We have also carefully chosen to equip our buses properly. Cameras instead of mirrors, because we believe that this is an evolution in the right direction that will continue. Safety is very important to us. For drivers and for passengers,” Van Mullem continues.

A good example of this is the drive option of the middle axle and the rear axle. In combination with ATC, the unique kink protection from Mercedes-Benz, it guarantees more stability and more comfort for passengers sitting in the back of the bus.

Soft financing

Daimler Truck Financial Services (DTFS) was responsible for the financing of two ├ęCitaro Gs. “A partnership that went very well and resulted in funding for a period of ten years. In particular I thought the fact that DTFS planned this entirely digitally was a real plus and in practice meant that everything was done in just two weeks. So you can say for sure that the triangle of Multiobus, Daimler Buses and DTFS is really working,” concludes Van Mullem, who looks to the future with a smile again after several difficult months.