By Swann Bigot – December 28th, 2016 – Update April 20th, 2018

e433-vitovt-max-electro-credit-photo-belkommunmash-2016

A Belarusian electric bus E433 Vitovt Max Electro

Credit Photo : Belkommunmash 2016.

The first electric buses manufactured in Belarus were tested in the streets of Minsk on December 26, 2016. The Minsk city public transport company “Minsktrans” has ordered 20 electric buses from the Belarusian mechanical and engineering company Belkommunmash. [1]

Two electric buses were tested in Minsk in December 2016 and eighteen others until March 2017.  A new electric bus route opened in spring 2017.[2]

Belarusian regions such as Gomel and Grodno have also expressed their interest in the purchase of electric buses.

Furthermore, the Belarusian mechanical and engineering company Belkommunmash will export its electric buses to Saint Petersburg, Moscow and Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk in Russia. Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus Vladimir Semashko has even said that there are plans to sell the electric buses to Tehran in Iran.

Belkommunmash produces two types of electric buses: the E420 Vitovt Electro for 90 passengers and the articulated E433 Vitovt Max Electro for 153 passengers which can reach a speed of 60 km/h. Both electric buses are designed to transport passengers with reduced mobility and can operate in temperatures from -40 C to +40C.

Moreover, the company Belkommunmash uses Chinese supercapacitors from the company Chengdu Xinzhu, well-established in electric public transport networks in Bulgaria and China.[5]

Note that the 210 KW battery is charged in 6 minutes and enables a driving distance of about 12 kilometers. The final bus stops will be equipped with fast charging stations.

Critics will stress the small cruising range and the high price of electric batteries.

Nevertheless, the cost of electric batteries is progressively decreasing over the years, making more affordable this kind of public transport.

Read : Electric vehicle battery cost dropped 80% in 6 years down to $227/kWh

Furthermore, operating costs of an electric bus are lower than those of a diesel bus, due to lower energy costs in comparison with diesel fuel and due to reduced volume of engineering works on the electric bus service.

e433-vitovt-max-electro-credit-photo-belkommunmash-2016-2

A Belarusian electric bus E433 Vitovt Max Electro – Credit Photo : Belkommunmash 2016.

The network of trolleybuses is already well developed in Minsk. However, Oleg Bytsko, Belkommunmash’s chief designer of the technical production center explains that this system of transport lacks of flexibility because it needs overhead wires. In case of failure of the power lines network or the occurrence of an accident on the road trolleybuses cannot go further. That’s why Belkommunmash has designed and begun to produce electric buses.[7]

Oleg Bytsko says that electric buses are more cost effective on the long term that trolleybuses. Cheaper electricity could help to spread the use of electric vehicles in Belarus. The electricity generated by the new 2400 MW Belarusian nuclear power plant under construction near the city of Astravyets[8] will be used to supply electric vehicle charging stations, says Andrei Pilipchuk, a representative of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection in a meeting with journalists held on December 16.[9]

Belkommunmash is a leading manufacturer in Belarus and one of the largest producers of electric urban transport in CIS countries.

Electric buses exported to Russia  

During the event “Days of Saint-Petersburg” held in Minsk last October, the Russian public transport company Passazhiravtotrans and the Belarusian manufacturer Belkommunmash agreed on the use of electric buses in the streets of Saint Petersburg.[10]

As Saint Petersburg is preparing the 2018 FIFA World Cup and conducting the modernization of its infrastructures and transport networks, the local administration develops the use of electric public transport made by Russian and Belarusian producers.

Therefore, the Belarusian electric bus E433 “Vitovt Max Electro” was tested in December in the Russia’s second largest city.[11]

Electric buses E433 from Belarus are also under tests in the streets of Moscow.[12]

The agreement between the Moscow public transport company Mosgortrans and the Belarusian producer Belkommunmash has been signed during the exhibition ExpoCityTrans 2016 held in Moscow on November 29-December 1. The Russian capital is planning to increase its fleet of electric buses in 2017.[13]

Moreover, Belkommunmash will deliver three electric buses to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk in the Sakhalin Oblast, Russia. The Belarusian mechanical engineering company will also build two bus stops with charging infrastructure. The agreement of cooperation has been signed last June in Minsk.[14] Electric bus stops will be located at the airport of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and at the railway station. The charging infrastructures will receive energy from solar batteries. In bad weather conditions, the city power system will provide the charging stations with electricity.[15]

Why electric public transport ?

The struggle against  greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, urban noise, congestion and traffic jams on the roads is the best ally for the development of electric vehicles. Public transport actors are experiencing a shift and pay more attention to these innovations enabling a sustainable urban development.

The fact is that air pollution in cities generates heavy financial losses. Electric transport is an issue not only related to climate change but also to the health of citizens. Respiratory diseases and premature deaths caused by air pollution generate billions of dollars of losses for our societies and economies.

Moreover, the growth of electric vehicles will be fueled by cheap electricity and by breakthrough technologies for storing and distributing power over the next decade.

Belarusian authorities are consequently working on this issue and expect significant results by 2025.

To eliminate completely greenhouse gases from transports, the electricity must be produced by clean and renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar plant, hydropower or geothermal power. Therefore, the use of electric vehicles should be completed by the development of renewable sources of energy. As Belarus had a wind power capacity of 50 MW in 2015, a future spread of electric vehicles will require a strong increase of this number.[16] 

A well-developed network of charging infrastructures is also required for the success of this electric transport ambition. The Ministry of Natural Resources of Belarus is currently working with the Ministry of Energy and the state corporation Belenergo on a new program for charging infrastructure across the country.[17]

So far, the Ministry of Natural Resources has referred to the 2400 MW Belarusian nuclear power plant which will enter into service in 2018. The nuclear plant will produce an excess of electricity for Belarus needs. This new energy would supply charging stations and help the development of electric vehicles in the country with cheap electricity.[18]

An ambitious program

A draft plan for the development of a green economy in Belarus has been submitted by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection to the Cabinet of Ministers this month. This document proposes the construction of at least five new charging stations for every 50 000 citizens in major Belarusian cities. Charging infrastructure will also appear near highways.[19]

The program for the development of the network of charging stations and electric transport in Belarus led by the Ministry of Energy has set the ambitious goal of at least 10 000 registered electric vehicles in the country by 2025.

The optimist scenario forecasts 32 700 electric vehicles.

In late 2015, there were 27 registered electric cars in Belarus.[20]

This program aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the consumption of oil resources imported from foreign countries.[21] Belarus plans to build 262 charging stations by 2025. In 2017, 87 charging stations must enter into service.

The implementation of this ambitious project will require investments and the adoption of a new legislation.[22] That could constitute an opportunity for foreign investors as Belarus already hosts investments from Lithuania, the Netherlands, Austria, the United States or Great Britain.[23]

The Ministry of Energy believes that Belarus has sufficient industrial potential to make and assemble electric vehicles, electric batteries and charging stations. The program also calls for the public support toward owners of electric vehicles, in order to accelerate the growth of this market.

Preferential loans, subventions, decrease of customs duties, free parking in the cities, reduced tariffs on electricity and vehicle tax could stimulate production and demand for electric transport.

The growth of the market till 10 000 registered electric vehicles with required charging stations across the territory of Belarus will cost $83.6 million according to the program. The optimist scenario with 32 700 registered electric vehicles by 2025 in Belarus involves a global cost of $242.8 million.

The Ministry of Energy considers that funding can be obtained through direct investments and through public-private partnerships.

The President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has repeatedly said the country had to focus on electric transports in order to reduce dependence on oil and gas imports. The Belarusian leader considers that the launch of the first nuclear power plant in the country in 2018 constitutes a good opportunity for the development of electric vehicles.[25]

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Sources : 

[1] Александр Ярошевич, “Белорусские электробусы Vitovt готовятся выехать на улицы Минска », Naviny.By, 20/11/2016 : http://naviny.by/article/20161120/1479618480-belorusskie-elektrobusy-vitovt-gotovyatsya-vyehat-na-ulicy-minska ; Надежда Матвеева, «”Минсктранс” в ноябре получит первые два электробуса для эксплуатации на маршрутах», БЕЛТА, 04/11/2016 : http://www.belta.by/regions/view/minsktrans-v-nojabre-poluchit-pervye-dva-elektrobusa-dlja-ekspluatatsii-na-marshrutah-217817-2016/ ;

[2] Александр Ярошевич, “Белорусские электробусы Vitovt готовятся выехать на улицы Минска », Naviny.By, 20/11/2016 : http://naviny.by/article/20161120/1479618480-belorusskie-elektrobusy-vitovt-gotovyatsya-vyehat-na-ulicy-minska ;

[3] Юлия Огнева, « Электробусы “Белкоммунмаш” планируется поставить в Тегеран », БЕЛТА 26/12/2016 : http://www.belta.by/economics/view/elektrobusy-belkommunmash-planiruetsja-postavit-v-tegeran-225536-2016/ ;

[4] « ЭЛЕКТРОБУС МОДЕЛИ Е433 “VITOVT MAX ELECTRO” », Белкоммунмаш : http://bkm.by/catalog/elektrobus-modeli-e433-vitovt-max-electro/ ;

[5] Оксана Каруна, « Белорусские электробусы появятся на улицах Южно-Сахалинска », БЕЛТА, 09/06/2012 : http://www.belta.by/economics/view/belorusskie-elektrobusy-pojavjatsja-na-ulitsah-juzhno-sahalinska-196908-2016/  ;

[6] « Белорусы выбрали цвет столичных электробусов », Энергетика Беларуси, №24 (355) 22 ДЕКАБРЯ 2016 г., страница 8 : http://www.energo.by/news/gazeta/%E2%84%9624_355.pdf ; Александр Ярошевич, “Белорусские электробусы Vitovt готовятся выехать на улицы Минска », Naviny.By, 20/11/2016 : http://naviny.by/article/20161120/1479618480-belorusskie-elektrobusy-vitovt-gotovyatsya-vyehat-na-ulicy-minska ;

[7] Александр Ярошевич, “Белорусские электробусы Vitovt готовятся выехать на улицы Минска », Naviny.By, 20/11/2016 : http://naviny.by/article/20161120/1479618480-belorusskie-elektrobusy-vitovt-gotovyatsya-vyehat-na-ulicy-minska ;

[8] « Специалисты проведут экспертизу корпуса реактора для Белорусской АЭС », 27/12/2016, Риа Новости, https://ria.ru/atomtec/20161227/1484725481.html ;

[9] « Электроэнергию с БелАЭС планируется использовать на зарядных станциях для электромобилей », БЕЛТА, 16/12/2016 : http://www.belta.by/society/view/elektroenergiju-s-belaes-planiruetsja-ispolzovat-na-zarjadnyh-stantsijah-dlja-elektromobilej-224018-2016/ ;

[10] Андрей Макаров, « На улицах Петербурга испытают белорусские электробусы », Life.ru, 10/10/2016 : https://life.ru/t/life78/915012/na_ulitsakh_pietierburgha_ispytaiut_bielorusskiie_eliektrobusy ; Мария Долбиш, « В Петербург доставят инновационный электробус », Санкт-Петербург.Ру, 10/10/2016 : https://saint-petersburg.ru/m/society/dolbish/352695/ ;

[11] Андрей Макаров, « На улицах Петербурга испытают белорусские электробусы », Life.ru, 10/10/2016 : https://life.ru/t/life78/915012/na_ulitsakh_pietierburgha_ispytaiut_bielorusskiie_eliektrobusy ; Владимир Багров, « Петербуржцы первыми опробуют инновационные электробусы из Белоруссии » – Riafan.ru, 10/10/2016 : https://riafan.ru/562825-peterburzhcy-pervymi-oprobuyut-innovacionnye-elektrobusy-iz-belorussii ; « В Петербурге первый электробус запустят к середине ноября », РИА Новости, 02/11/2016 : https://ria.ru/society/20161102/1480550182.html ;

[12] « Мосгортранс будет тестировать российские и белорусские электробусы », 04/12/2016 : http://miotrans.ru/mostrollejbus-novosti/mosgortrans-budet-testirovat-rossijskie-i-belorusskie-elektrobusy.htm ;

[13] “Белорусский электробус в декабре будут тестировать на улицах Москвы », БЕЛТА, 30.11.2016 : http://www.belta.by/society/view/belorusskij-elektrobus-v-dekabre-budut-testirovat-na-ulitsah-moskvy-221540-2016/ ;

[14] Оксана Каруна, « Белорусские электробусы появятся на улицах Южно-Сахалинска », БЕЛТА, 09/06/2016 : http://www.belta.by/economics/view/belorusskie-elektrobusy-pojavjatsja-na-ulitsah-juzhno-sahalinska-196908-2016/ ; « Белорусские электробусы пополнят парк общественного транспорта Южно-Сахалинска », interfax.by, 14/06/2016 : http://www.interfax.by/news/belarus/1207764 ;

[15] « Белорусские электробусы пополнят парк общественного транспорта Южно-Сахалинска », interfax.by, 14/06/2016 : http://www.interfax.by/news/belarus/1207764 ;

[16] « Действующие объекты ветроэнергетики Беларуси », Ветроэнергетика в Республике Беларусь, 2015 : http://www.windpower.by/ru/vetroenergetika/objekty-vetroenergetiki-belarusi.html ;

[17] « Электроэнергию с БелАЭС планируется использовать на зарядных станциях для электромобилей », БЕЛТА, 16/12/2016 : http://www.belta.by/society/view/elektroenergiju-s-belaes-planiruetsja-ispolzovat-na-zarjadnyh-stantsijah-dlja-elektromobilej-224018-2016/ ;

[18] « Лукашенко предлагает сформировать вокруг БелАЭС кластер энергоемких производств », БЕЛТА, 21/04/2016 : http://www.belta.by/president/view/lukashenko-predlagaet-sformirovat-vokrug-belaes-klaster-energoemkih-proizvodstv-190457-2016/ ; « Электроэнергию с БелАЭС планируется использовать на зарядных станциях для электромобилей », БЕЛТА, 16/12/2016 : http://www.belta.by/society/view/elektroenergiju-s-belaes-planiruetsja-ispolzovat-na-zarjadnyh-stantsijah-dlja-elektromobilej-224018-2016/ ;

[19] « Электроэнергию с БелАЭС планируется использовать на зарядных станциях для электромобилей », БЕЛТА, 16/12/2016 : http://www.belta.by/society/view/elektroenergiju-s-belaes-planiruetsja-ispolzovat-na-zarjadnyh-stantsijah-dlja-elektromobilej-224018-2016/ ;

[20] Юлия РАК, « В Беларуси к 2025 году должно появиться 10 000 электромобилей », Беларусь Сегодня, 23/06/2016 : http://www.sb.by/v-belarusi/news/v-belarusi-k-2025-godu-dolzhno-poyavitsya-10-000-elektromobiley.html ;

[21] Юлия РАК, « В Беларуси к 2025 году должно появиться 10 000 электромобилей », Беларусь Сегодня, 23/06/2016 : http://www.sb.by/v-belarusi/news/v-belarusi-k-2025-godu-dolzhno-poyavitsya-10-000-elektromobiley.html ;

[22] Андрей Гомыляев, « Лукашенко: Беларуси пора переходить на электромобили », auto.onliner.by, 22/06/2016 : https://auto.onliner.by/2016/06/22/elektro-4 ;

[23] « Результаты инвестиционной политики », Министерство Экономики Республики Беларусь, 01/09/2016 : http://www.economy.gov.by/ru/invpolicy/invest-klimat/pezultat ;

[24] Юлия РАК, « В Беларуси к 2025 году должно появиться 10 000 электромобилей », Беларусь Сегодня, 23/06/2016 : http://www.sb.by/v-belarusi/news/v-belarusi-k-2025-godu-dolzhno-poyavitsya-10-000-elektromobiley.html ;

[25] Андрей Гомыляев, « Лукашенко: Беларуси пора переходить на электромобили », auto.onliner.by, 22/06/2016 : https://auto.onliner.by/2016/06/22/elektro-4 ; « Лукашенко предлагает сформировать вокруг БелАЭС кластер энергоемких производств », БЕЛТА, 21/04/2016 : http://www.belta.by/president/view/lukashenko-predlagaet-sformirovat-vokrug-belaes-klaster-energoemkih-proizvodstv-190457-2016/ ;