Bus manufacturer Solaris has announced this week that since launching its first fuel-cell electric bus (FCEB) in 2019, it has delivered nearly 200 hydrogen buses and has taken orders for over 500 more.
While the Polish company offers two hydrogen-powered version of its Urbino buses — 12-metre and 18-metre models with ranges of roughly 350km on a single tank — it also markets battery-electric and hybrid vehicles, and trolleybuses powered by overhead lines, which still outsell the fuel-cell options.
A spokesperson for Solaris told Hydrogen Insight that in 2023, it delivered almost 700 battery-electric buses. Another 700 were on order as of December last year — in addition to nearly 2,300 of its battery buses already on European roads.
The firm says more than 6,000 battery buses were delivered by multiple manufacturers across Europe last year, while fuel-cell options trailed in at around 250 units.
However, the Solaris spokesperson described the latter segment as “very dynamically growing”.
The company noted in a press release that no hydrogen-powered buses had been registered in Europe as of 2018, while 99 had been registered for public transport in 2022 — suggesting deliveries had more than doubled in a single year.
While the spokesperson also confirmed that fuel-cell buses are “on average more expensive than comparable battery buses”, they added that the prices for a given order can vary depending on battery type and capacity, the final specification of the vehicle, and warranty conditions.
At least one of Solaris’ customers, the German city of Rostock’s public transit agency Rebus Regionalbus Rostock, explicitly opted for fuel-cell buses over battery-electric options due to their longer range and shorter time needed for refuelling than charging.
However, some public transport operators that had opted for other manufacturers’ fuel-cell buses, such as in the French commune of Pau, have complained that these vehicles are more expensive to operate than battery-electric models if using green hydrogen.
This is largely due to energy losses when producing, compressing, and delivering green hydrogen to vehicles compared to supplying electricity directly to batteries.
Transport operators that have bought Solaris’ fuel-cell buses include TPER, in the city of Bologna, Italy (130 units); AVM in Venice (90); and RVK in Cologne, Germany (53).
Orders have also come from bus operators in Austria, Switzerland, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and Slovakia.