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Van Hool supplies France’s first hydrogen bus route

Exqui City tram-bus

French city of Pau to become first in country to use hydrogen buses

Belgian-headquartered bus and coach manufacturer Van Hool is to supply buses for the first hydrogen bus route in France.

The route, in Pau in the country’s south, will open in September 2019 and carry passengers between the town’s hospital and railway station. It will be operated by Pau transport operator companies SMTU-PPP and STAP, with technology and backing provided by Engie, Van Hool and ITM Power.

Powered by hydrogen from renewable sources, eight buses from the Bus Rapid Transit service line (BHNS) will be in operation on the streets of Pau within two years. The buses will form an artery of the new transportation network designed by the City within its urban redevelopment project aimed at improving the perception and use of public spaces in a sustainable way.

According to Van Hool, it will supply eight Exqui.Cities – known as “tram-buses” – which will be the company’s first ever models of their class to be powered using hydrogen. The Exqui is an 18.62 metre-long articulated bus with space for 125 passengers and a range of around 300 km.

Van Hool has a further 50 fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) hydrogen buses already in operation – 32 in Europe and 21 in North America.

Engie, via its GNVERT subsidiary, responsible for the distribution of alternative fuels, will handle construction and operation of the hydrogen refuelling station. Hydrogen will be produced on site by an ITM Power PEM electrolyser powered by local renewable electricity.

Graham Cooley, CEO of ITM Power commented: “We are looking forward to supporting GNVERT, VanHool and the City of Pau in this important hydrogen bus project. The hydrogen bus market is growing rapidly and it is a great pleasure to be working with such an important group of leaders on this major step forward in France.”


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