- New: production launch 2007, bus-length rule exemption for Germany
- Currently the only high-capacity, fully manoeuvrable high-capacity vehicle
The Mercedes-Benz Capa-City low-floor, high-capacity bus, which was presented as a prototype in 2005, is now ready to go into series production. Its four-axle, four-door articulated bus design (with only one articulation joint) opens up a new chapter in the development of high-capacity urban buses for regular service operations. The Capa-City, which is 19.54 metres long, is also equipped with a Euro 4 engine.
The new vehicle from Mercedes-Benz is a perfect example of the attractiveness and economy buses offer as a mode of transport. As a non-rail-bound, high-capacity vehicle, it combines the typical benefits of a bus (great flexibility and economy) with tram-like virtues such as the capability of transporting a large number of passengers. As such, the Capa-City represents an ideal element of an innovative transport system, and a welcome supplement to existing tram networks.
Numerous series-production components to be used
On the one hand, the Capa-City is a member of the urban bus family from Mercedes-Benz, and therefore includes proven and favourably priced components from the brand. On the other hand, the vehicle’s distinctive design indicates from the very beginning that this is an urban bus in a unique class of its own. The Capa-City can transport up to 193 passengers, and its four double-width doors enable passengers to enter and exit the vehicle quickly. Moreover, its agility and handling dynamics allow it to be used on any existing route. Up until now, the 18-metre articulated Mercedes-Benz Citaro G — the longest regular-service bus in the Mercedes-Benz product range — has been transporting up to a maximum of approximately 160 passengers.
The Capa-City benefits from an advanced vehicle concept and the use of tried-and-tested volume-production components from other Mercedes-Benz regular-service bus series. In this respect, it differs fundamentally from the technically exotic or extremely sophisticated and expensive solutions represented by other concepts for high-capacity buses.
Increased transport performance despite lower running costs
With the Capa-City, the Mercedes-Benz Bus and Coach Unit of EvoBus GmbH is completely in tune with the current trend on the European urban bus market, whereby public transport companies are looking to focus operations on main routes and lower costs for fuel, drivers, workshops and capital — and also accommodate passengers’ increasing demand for attractive public transport concepts. The Capa-City already meets future emission limits, and from 2007 it will be possible to certify the vehicle according to the EEV emissions standard.
High passenger capacity, low operating costs
The Capa-City’s length of 19.54 metres and its fourth axle have led to an increase in its gross vehicle weight to 32 tonnes — and thus a significantly higher passenger transport capacity as compared to conventional articulated buses. Assuming maximum permitted use of standing room of eight people per square metre, transport capacity can be increased by up to 40 per cent to a maximum of 193 passengers, depending on the seating arrangement used in the bus. Along with the bus’s greater area, this has been achieved primarily through an increase of more than three tonnes in maximum payload. The vehicle’s four double-width doors (two of which are located in the trailing section), step-free entrances and exits, and large areas for standing passengers, parents with prams, and people in wheelchairs all ensure rapid passenger entry and exiting.
The additional capacity offered by the Capa-City provides big benefits in many different ways. For example, it generally no longer makes economic sense to add new buses to heavily congested inner-city routes. However, high-capacity buses can provide the same transport quality (passenger places per hour) with fewer buses. This noticeably reduces operating and personnel costs and helps achieve the goal of putting as little burden on the environment as possible. What is more, the Capa-City high-capacity bus requires practically no conversion or expansion of existing infrastructure because its length is only slightly greater than that of conventional articulated buses, and it is also extremely manoeuvrable.
Distinctive and confident design
Although the Capa-City has an unmistakably unique design, it is immediately recognisable as a member of the Mercedes-Benz urban bus family. Its smooth surfaces and clear design vocabulary lend it a dynamic and elegant appearance that makes it extremely attractive from first sight. The design of its friendly “face” accentuates the three-dimensional front panel, at the centre of which is the Mercedes star on a prominent base. The front of the bus flows into a smooth side wall, and the side windows appear larger due to an uninterrupted black-painted panel that extends down to the wheels. The roof is designed in a manner that conceals the air conditioning system and fans under smoothly shaped coverings that blend in perfectly with the vehicle’s elegant exterior. Of course, the Capa-City also includes all the new features from the second-generation Mercedes-Benz Citaro.
Manoeuvrability and safety of a normal-size articulated bus
Despite being 19.54 metres in length, the Mercedes-Benz Capa-City negotiates its way through traffic just as easily as a conventional 18-metre articulated bus, thanks to four axles (two of which are steered) and a single articulation joint. Its 22.85-metre turning circle is exactly the same as that of the 17.94-metre Citaro G three-axle articulated bus, which means the Capa-City handles just as easily in bends as the tried-and-tested Citaro G. The slewing ring is also the same size in both buses. At 0.42 metres, the rear swing-out value is significantly lower than the maximum permitted level of 0.60 metres. In fact, the centring by the trailing axle can practically eliminate the swing-out effect. This means that the Capa-City is considerably easier to handle than alternative high-capacity, double-articulated or trailer bus concepts that are currently being offered.
The Mercedes-Benz Capa-City is equipped with the tried-and-tested electronically-controlled braking system (EBS) in conjunction with ABS and ASR, while disc brakes all round and independent front suspension are fitted as standard.
Manoeuvring and reversing
Because the Mercedes-Benz Capa-City has only one articulation joint, manoeuvring is much easier and therefore safer. Drivers can always see the rear and the doors. And unlike a double-articulated bus or trailer solution, the Capa-City can be reversed just as easily as any articulated bus.
Higher handling stability thanks to four axles and roll/pitch control
The Capa-City’s high level of manoeuvrability is due to an electrohydraulically steered trailing axle. The vehicle’s four axles ensure even higher handling stability when in forward motion. The chassis, which has independent suspension for the front axle as standard and an optional roll/pitch control with variable shock-absorber response and control, is both safe and comfortable.
The roll/pitch control adjusts the characteristics of the shock absorbers depending on the driving situation and vehicle load. This means increased safety through firmer damping during braking or dynamic cornering. In other driving situations, softer damping increases comfort. Moreover, rolling, pitching or vertical movements of the body, which are particularly noticeable in an articulated bus are reduced more quickly by the system. Lower fluctuations of the wheel load in turn reduce the wear on the roads. Together with the independent suspension on the front axle, all of this provides the Capa-City with a level of comfort that sets new standards for urban regular-service buses.
The Mercedes-Benz Capa-City impressively proved its ability to operate under normal everyday conditions in the summer of 2006, when it was tested on the most difficult bus routes in eight major German cities. It conducted regular service operations in these tests without any problems and even manoeuvred gracefully through road construction sites. All the transport companies that operated the new vehicle were particularly impressed not only by the Capa-City’s design, technology, and readiness for series production, but also by its agility, manoeuvrability and, of course, its high passenger transport capacity.
Powerful and efficient Euro 4 engines
The rear of the Mercedes-Benz Capa-City houses the proven horizontal six-cylinder in-line Mercedes-Benz OM 457 hLA engine with 12 litres displacement. This efficient and clean Euro 4 turbodiesel unit with SCR Blue-Tec diesel technology drives the third axle. Engine output of 260 kW (354 hp) gives the Capa-City driving performance and traction values far superior to competing concepts, despite its higher weight. The Capa-City will also profit in the future from the availability of new engines certified according to the Euro 5 and EEV standards.
High passenger transport capacity and attractiveness were attributes previously only displayed by rail-based transportation systems. However, when provided with similar conditions — such as exclusive bus lanes, and bus stops that meet current requirements — modern bus systems can certainly compete with rail-based transport in many respects. The Capa-City has everything a successful transport concept needs: low lifecycle costs, a high level of comfort and, last but not least, an extremely appealing design — all of which make for an innovative bus system that’s not only economical but also attractive. Meanwhile, the EEV standard ensures that emissions are so low as to be almost undetectable. The big advantage offered by bus transport remains its great flexibility: regardless of whether or not they use track guidance, buses can be driven almost anywhere and their use can be adapted to changed traffic flows, without any need for increased investment. In these times of tight budgets, the Capa-City also offers an opportunity to help sustain an attractive local public transport system. Achieving such a goal, however, requires the fair distribution of subsidies between buses and rail-based systems.
Exemption from maximum bus-length rule in Germany
At 19.54 metres, the length of the Mercedes-Benz Capa-City exceeds the current permissible maximum of 18.75 metres in Germany, which is why a special exemption is required to operate it on public roads in the country. In April 2006, the German Ministry of Transport issued such a general exemption, which will enable the bus to be operated anywhere in Germany without restrictions. Series production of the Mercedes-Benz Capa-City will commence in 2007.
Service and maintenance
The use of tried-and-tested components from the Mercedes-Benz regular-service bus range makes the Mercedes-Benz Capa-City high-capacity bus a low-maintenance urban bus with low lifecycle costs. Operators of the Capa-City can, like operators of all other Mercedes-Benz buses throughout Europe, utilise the extensive Omniplus service network, and also call upon the numerous Mercedes-Benz outlets and authorised dealerships located throughout the continent.