The decision was quickly made, when, in 2009, Voith proposed entering into a collaboration on hybrid technology with one of the biggest transportation companies in the Ruhr. “We really profited from our long-term relationship with BOGESTRA,” says Helmut Zimmermann, project manager at Voith. Filter adds, “It was clear to us that if we wanted to test hybrid technology on a large scale, it would be best to do it with Voith.”
The project was carried out as part of a program of public development schemes. The state of North Rhine-Westphalia subsidized eight of the vehicles and Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transportation provided funding for the other three. Jörg Filter is convinced that without such development funding, hybrid drives for commercial vehicles would not currently be possible, and he is aware that it may take a few more years until the systems really catch on. “Nevertheless, hybrid drives are a transitory technology for which it’s critical to collect as much information as early as possible. In that way, we will be able to safeguard Voith’s leadership in innovation,” he says.
Of course, image plays a significant role, too. Almost every day, driver Michael Mutzenbach is asked by passengers about his bus with the eye-catching green design. A display behind the driver’s seat provides passengers with a “live” display of the braking and accelerating energy flowing through the bus at any given time. They also notice that the ride comfort is different – the hybrid buses run smoother and more silently. The fact that he’s sitting at the wheel of a high-tech machine also increases Mutzenbach’s driving pleasure. Or, as he puts it simply, “I just like driving these things.”