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Fuel Cell Bus Programs Worldwide

Real-world experiences with fuel cell buses in bus fleets for urban mass transit have not yet been made due to the technology's early stage of development. Within the next few years such experiences are expected to be gained however, as there are several programs planning the first commercial use of fuel cell buses:

  • European Fuel Cell Bus Demonstration
  • California Fuel Cell Partnership
  • GEF Program: Fuel Cell Buses in Developing Countries

These are discussed in the sections below. For technical information on the fuel cell bus or hydrogen as a fuel please visit the relevant Info Pool sites.

Program description

Starting in late 2002, Daimler-Chrysler began to deliver 30 hydrogen fuel cell powered buses to European bus operators, which are the first commercially sold fuel cell buses. They will be operated in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Hamburg, London, Luxemburg, Porto, Stockholm, Stuttgart and Reykjavik. EvoBus, a Daimler-Chrysler subsidiary, will accompany the cities with technical consulting and on-the-spot maintenance. During this period the partners will jointly accumulate and evaluate their experiences and technical findings related to bus operation and the hydrogen infrastructure. This first collation of data based on a whole fleet of buses will be utilized during the further development of fuel cell technology and the infrastructure, in the light of potential future series production.


Fuel cell powered Mercedes-Benz Citaro urban buses will be used. They will have eight compressed hydrogen gas tanks and a fuel cell system located on the roof. The low-floor buses will be 12 meters long, designed to transport up to 70 passengers. They will have an operating range of about 250 kilometers and a maximum operating speed of 80 km per hour. The fuel cell units will be supplied by Xcellsis, a joint subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler, Ford Motor Company and Ballard.


The price will be about US$ 1.2 million per bus, which includes an extensive two-year service package. The participating bus operators also have to provide the hydrogen refueling sites. They will receive financial support in financing the project from the European Union.

Program Description

The California Fuel Cell Partnership is a collaboration of private companies, i.e. auto manufacturers, oil and fuel cell companies, and government entities. It is designed to place up to 80 fuel cell vehicles on the road in California until 2003. The partnership has four main goals:

  • demonstrate vehicle technology by operating and testing the vehicles under real-world conditions;
  • demonstrate alternative fuel infrastructure technology, including hydrogen and methanol stations;
  • explore the path to commercialization, from identifying potential problems to developing solutions; and
  • increase public awareness and enhance opinion about fuel cell electric vehicles to prepare the market for commercialization.

The transit agency SunLine Transit in Palm Desert and AC Transit in the East Bay Area will run up to 20 fuel cell buses ( 2 ). The buses will operate in regular fare service. This will represent the introduction of a small fleet. The first bus is already operating at SunLine (see Hydrogen Fuel Cell Bus Evaluation below).


The buses will be fueled with hydrogen and will use Xcellsis fuel cell engines. The first bus is the Xcellsis ZEbus.

Fuel Cell Buses Worldwide

As part of its ongoing strategy to introduce clean technologies and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) aims to facilitate the use of fuel cell buses in a demonstration project in five countries.

Between 2002 and 2003, GEF plans to pay the incremental costs for the operation of 40-50 fuel cell buses in Sao Paulo, Brazil ( 1 ); Mexico City, Mexico; New Delhi, India; Cairo, Egypt; and Beijing and Shanghai, China, pending approval for the project from each country. Brazil is slated to be the first to use the fuel cell buses. The GEF, a multilateral trust fund, which works through the United Nation's Development Program (UNDP), the U.N.'s Environment Program, and the World Bank, will contribute $60 million of the $130 million projected cost. (It is worth noting that more recently the GEF policy framework has changed and it is no longer promoting state of the art pre commercial technologies but rather is promoting modal shift policies for mass transit.)

The remaining costs will be taken care of by the five countries, with a small amount contributed by private industry.

Related documents
  • 1. Project Brief: Brazil: Hydrogen Fuel Cell Buses for Urban Transport
    This project is designed to stimulate the development and utilization of fuel cell buses by supporting a significant operational test of fuel cell buses in the greater Sao Paulo Metropolitan Area.
  • 2. Hydrogen Fuel Cell Bus Evaluation - Eudy, Leslie / Leonard, Jonathan / Parish, Richard
    Global concern for the environment has been increasing throughout the last decade, and green technologies are being emphasized all over the world. Research and development of advanced technologies for the transportation sector has been growing at a rapid pace in an effort to reduce petroleum imports and lower emissions.
General Topics
Hydrogen and fuel cells

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