Analysis by Jaishankar Jayaramiah, Editor, Automotive Lead (with inputs from Solaris)
In 2020, the European bus manufacturer Solaris recorded a phenomenal increase in sales and revenues and, what is more, all these were record numbers.
In 2020, a new record for the number of sold vehicles was established, 1560 units, which is the highest number ever achieved in Solaris’ 25-year history. Compared to 2019, this represents an increase of around 5% (1487 units in 2019).
Solaris buses and trolleybuses made their way to carriers in a whopping number of 19 countries. The largest numbers of vehicles were delivered to Germany, Poland, Italy, Estonia, Czech Republic, Israel, Switzerland and Spain in 2020.
Moreover, 2020 stood as record year for Solaris in terms of the number of vehicles sold in Germany. The bus manufacturer supplied 329 vehicles to German public transport operators, of which 40% were 12- and 18-metre (articulated) battery electric buses.
Further Solaris became the market leader for low-floor city buses in Poland for the 18th year in a row, by recording a 53% share in this segment. The Solaris buses sold in Poland during the period included primarily electric buses (194 out of 365 units sold in total). The whole fleet of Urbino electric buses in Poland amounts to more than 320 vehicles, supplied to 27 towns and cities.
According to Javier Calleja, CEO of Solaris, “The year 2020 was a time of unprecedented challenges for many companies, including those from the public transport sector. Even though the continent had to deal with the pandemic from the beginning of the year, Solaris made every endeavour to maintain the continuity of its business activities..”
Solaris recorded a impressive growth in sales of buses with low- and zero-emission drives. Since 2018 the company keep increasing its sales in this segment and the trend continued in 2020 too leading to the number of sold vehicles with alternative drives growing to up to 44%.
In 2020, Solaris stood as the largest manufacturer of city e-buses in Europe, with a share of 20%. The company supplied 457 electric buses measuring 12 and 18 metres. This was nearly three times more than in the previous year, when 162 Urbino electric units, made their way to clients.
The biggest contracts for the supply of electric buses carried out in 2020 included a delivery of 130 articulated Solaris Urbino electric buses for public transport operator Miejskie Zakłady Autobusowe in Warsaw, 90 Solaris Urbino electric buses for operator ATM in Milan, and 106 e-buses for Berlin-based public transport company BVG.
So far, Solaris buses were delivered to 32 countries and more than 750 towns and cities. The impressive number of 20,000 consists of, among other things, more than 1000 e-buses that already cruise along streets in 18 countries, operated by almost 100 European carriers.
The order book for 2021 contains 50 articulated Urbino electric buses for operator MPK in Cracow, 37 e-buses for operator MPK Poznań, and 16 zero-emission buses for the Romanian city of Craiova. Solaris also will deliver up to 530 electric buses for German operator Hamburger Hochbahn. In 2021 Solaris ebuses will be also delivered to operators from France, Latvia, Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Switzerland.
Solaris has been strengthening its position as Europe’s e-mobility leader not only through the development of electric battery vehicles, but also by investing consistently and in the long term in the perfection of solutions implemented in hydrogen buses.
The year 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic posed new challenges to many companies from the public transport sector. Solaris responded to these requirements and in July 2020 it unveiled an “anti-coronavirus” package. The solutions have been devised for both newly manufactured vehicles, as well as those which have already been delivered to clients. Special solutions offered by the manufacturer include:
Hands-free opening and closing of doors for passengers – this facility is based on through-beam sensors detecting people who want to either get on or off the bus. From their panel, the driver permits the opening or closing of the doors, which will respond automatically, without passengers pressing a stop button.
Disinfectors – it is possible to attach hand disinfectant dispensers to the rails inside the bus. The disinfector can deliver 3000 doses one refill.
Intercom – a non-contact passenger-driver communication system – in order to keep direct contact between drivers and passengers to a minimum, buses can also be fitted with an intercom.
Passenger counting system – In order to inform both drivers and passengers as to the number of passengers currently onboard the bus, and how many more passengers may still embark, the carrier can opt for a passenger counting device.
Closed drivers’ cabins – bearing in mind the day-long labour of drivers, Solaris has devised a closed cabin version, in order to ensure comfortable and safe work conditions. The cabins provide separate air-conditioning and ventilation systems for drivers; these minimise the possibility of air circulation between the cabin and the passenger compartment.
With several achievements in 2020, Solaris is gearing up to achieve more in 2021!
(With inputs from Automotive Lead Research Team)
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