17 October 2012
Deutsche Bahn, the international mobility supplier and also the company that operates the German railway network, has chosen the Hiriko electric vehicle –promoted by a Basque corporate consortium- to complete its transport network in Berlin. Both entities have reached a collaboration agreement in the German capital to initiate a pilot project with which to progressively incorporate the Basque vehicle into the car sharing network with which Deutche Bahn completes its railway services.
The agreement, that includes a joint development of the Hiriko project in Germany,, includes an initial phase in 2013 in which the Hiriko Fold folding is to be tested and adapted for public use in Berlin through the electroMobility platform of the InnoZ Innovation Centre.
Once all of the technical approvals have been obtained, it is planned to integrate Hiriko into Deutsche Bahn’s electric car sharing system –denominated eFlinkster. In practice, these Basque vehicles will circulate through the urban landscape of Berlin in test mode in 2013 and finally in an official manner in 2014.
This agreement is a token of first-level support for the Basque Consortium, since Deutsche Bahn is one of the world’s main mobility and logistics suppliers. Having the German railways as their central element, Deutsche Bahn transports over 2700 million people a year, is present in over 130 countries, has a workforce of 290,000 and its turnover in 2011 was just below 40,000 million euros.
Within its objective of providing integral mobility solutions, Deutsche Bahn has appreciated certain singular characteristics in the Hiriko project that convert it into an ideal partner to complement its extensive railway network with a service of electric car sharing in big cities. In fact, Deutsche Bahn now does not only sell train tickets, but also includes the possibility of using a vehicle parked at the station with which to complete “the last mile” of the journey to customers’ final destinations. For this purpose, Deutsche Bahn is already operating several car sharing fleets.
To conclude the agreement, the fact that Hiriko is the only vehicle specifically designed for electric car sharing in big cities was the decisive factor. This is reinforced by the fact that the vehicle can fold up, occupying less space, and that its vanguard electronics allow it to connect to the most advanced intermobility platforms.
Andreas Knie, the Director of Innovation in Deutsche Bahn (DB), pointed out that “Hiriko is the only vehicle specifically designed to understand mobility as an integral door-to-door service”. “We are placing our stakes on Hiriko because it allows us to test and develop intelligent mobility solutions for 21st-century Germany”.
On the other hand, Armando Gaspar, the Director General of Hiriko, considered that “this agreement is a fundamental landmark in the international development of the Hiriko project”. “Up to the present, Hiriko has been a great innovation project, and now it is becoming an industrial reality”.
One of Deutsche Bahn’s main partners in the development of innovating urban mobility proposals is the InnoZ electric mobility research centre, with which Hiriko has been collaborating for over two years. As a result of this collaboration, on 27th May 2010 the first Hiriko prototype was unveiled in Berlin together with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).