Leading European small bus manufacturer and innovation company Altas Auto will shift its focus to electric (EV) vehicle engineering in 2022. The company plans next year to reach at least 20% of its sales with electric vehicles. And there is a strategy in place to be fully electric by 2025.
The Lithuanian company joins the growing European automaker family with intention to hasten the demise of internal combustion engines by 2030. This comes at a time when the global supply chains are causing another round of problems for auto part manufacturers to deliver high volumes of components for the European automotive industry.
“Today we are focusing on the new generation electric buses that require a new level of engineering and innovation. The shift to EV will not happen overnight. But our strategic approach is in place. We are dedicated to quality, not quantity”, – says Altas Auto CEO and founder Edvardas Radzevičius.
2021 will be a successful year for the company that specialises in customised small busses for various passenger transportation scenarios and special customer needs. Altas Auto plans to reach 50% sales growth this year after a troublesome pandemic 2020.
“Demand for electric buses in Europe, especially in Scandinavia, is growing strongly as governments and municipalities are increasingly adopting zero-emission public transport policies. European transportation companies are stepping up too, upgrading vehicle fleets. This is the right time for us”, – says Altas Auto CEO.
The European bus market trends show growing demand for electric buses. Last year, the electric bus market grew by 18.4%. And this year the growth will be even higher.
Year of successful testing
Year 2021 was dedicated to innovation and testing of brand new Altas Auto EV buses. The company has thoroughly tested new vehicles under different, sometimes very harsh conditions, in three various European climatic zones.
The EV Ecoline model was tested in Scandinavia, both on intercity and suburban roads. The EV Cityline model was cruising both complex high density European streets and high mountains roads in Poland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France and the Netherlands. Additionally, a UK tailored EV Cityline was successfully tested on the roads of Britain, where the requirements for public transportation are particularly high.
“We are very pleased with the results. Our Finnish partners reached Lapland and successfully tested our product in difficult conditions beyond the Arctic Circle.
The results are very positive: during a full load test, Altas EV Cityline reached a maximum 273 km range. This exceeded all our expectations”, – says Altas Auto CEO. Initially the company announced a maximum driving range of 200 km with a full battery charge and a full load.
EU deliveries have started
In 2021 Altas Auto manufactured the first fleet of road ready EV Ecoline vehicles for the Latvian transport company Nordeka. There are growing customer orders from Finland, Germany, Norway. The EV mass production started in the middle of the year and many more orders will fill the company warehouse by the end of 2021.
“We target European passenger transport companies with a responsible business policy. Our clients, passenger transport companies, mainly use EV busses for public urban and suburban transport. The interest of municipalities for green transportation is growing rapidly, and we see them already moving towards EV transport systems.
In some countries, municipalities decided to use EV in public transport already from 2025 onwards. Considering the fact that transportation contracts are conducted 5-8 years beforehand, today is the day of EV rise in this sector”, – says Altas Auto CEO.
Small EV buses are best suited for the high density central urban areas, where the daily use of large buses is impossible.
Innovation takes time
It takes over 250 man hours to manufacture an EV Ecoline bus for the company – 40% longer than a typical Ecoline. Production of highly customised Cityline EV can take up to 540 hours.
“Today, the design process of our EV busses is 100% digital and 3D, with all the necessary technical documentation prepared. This way we can 100% guarantee full maintenance and service support later.
Advanced software allows different engineers to work on product design at the same time, performing different tasks. Such work is particularly efficient and project managers can quickly monitor the overall progress of the work. Without such construction tools and work skills, we would not be able to manage such complex projects”, says the head of the company.
Altas Auto EV buses are equipped with top of the line Lithuanian Elinta Motors 115 kWh capacity batteries and 150 kW, 1.250 Nm torque electric motors. The most important parameter for the company today is the distance traveled, which during the tests turned out to be much better than planned.
“Designing EV buses our engineers made some major innovations in the process that will allow us to stand out in the ever-increasing competition in the European EV market”, says Edvardas Radzevičius.
Today, Altas Auto exports about 48% of its production to the Scandinavian countries, the second largest market is Germany with 16% of Altas Auto buses sold there this year.