French transport firms unveil electric tram-bus hybrid for urban transport
Last week saw French firm Alstom and its subsidiary NTL showcase Aptis, the latest offering to the world of electro-mobility.
Halfway between a bus and a tram, Aptis fills an interesting gap in urban transport. The companies note that the design “incorporates low-floor accessibility,” while two or three large double doors enable “easy on-and-off passenger flows and smooth access for wheelchairs and strollers.”
The product sheet records the Aptis as having a 180 kW motor, and a seemingly versatile charging system designed to incorporate overnight depot charging and fast charging at a terminus, via pantograph or other system. It suggests a range of around 200km, however there is not an indication of battery size.
The unusual design also extends to the wheels. All four are steerable, meaning that the Aptis occupies 25% less surface area in curves – useful for tighter routes, or in cities which may have considered tram infrastructure too intrusive. It also minimises the space needed to park at bus stops, freeing up space for other vehicles.
Alstom has also pitched the benefits of economy, noting that the system is easy to maintain with “the longest lifetime in its category.”
That extends to the firms’ business model for the Aptis. Alstom and NTL provide not only the vehicle, but an entire system. It includes dimensioning, charging options, road infrastructure, leasing and warranty options, allowing planners to to cost-effectively integrate electric mobility into their transport networks. Ultimately, they say, low maintenance and operation costs and a longer lifetime compared to buses, mean that Aptis has a total cost of ownership “equivalent to current diesel buses.”
Although only in the prototype stage, Aptis has attracted interest in Europe. In France, STIF will launch two trials, one of which is with RATP. Aptis will undergo test runs in Paris and in the Ile-de-France region during the second half of 2017.
Aptis prototypes are being manufactured in NTL’s factory in Duppigheim, Alsace, with key components manufactured by five of Alstom’s sites in France: Saint-Ouen for the project management and system integration, Tarbes for the traction, Ornans for the motors, Vitrolles for SRS and Villeurbanne for electronic components of the traction.
“With Aptis, we complete our electric mobility offering and are now able to offer cities a full range of urban solutions. It was a real challenge to create this innovative concept, made possible thanks to NTL’s agility and knowledge of vehicles on tyres and Alstom’s expertise in electric traction and system integration. We are very proud to present this new environmentally-friendly solution that will revolutionise urban transportation,” says Henri Poupart-Lafarge, Alstom Chairman and CEO.