Electric vehicles in the company vehicle fleet

Electrically operated vehicles in the product divisions

Lufthansa Technik has been using electrically powered vehicles in its various product divisions for some years. Thus, for example, numerous equipment items are used at the bases to transport employees around the site, to move objects and goods, to lift heavy parts and to tow large items of plant. In Engine Services, almost 170 electrically operated fork-lift trucks, pallet trucks, minilifts, towing tractors and floor cleaning appliances are in service. Aircraft Base Maintenance uses about 30 electric golf caddies and electric fork-lift trucks in the docks in Hamburg. In Frankfurt around 50 electrically powered fork-lift trucks, tow vehicles and lifting platforms are operated in Aircraft Maintenance. Lufthansa Technik Logistik Services also has a large inventory of electric vehicles about 160 in all in service, comprising electric fork-lift trucks, carts, vans and towing tractors. 

Pilot project to try out electric cars at Lufthansa Technik

To make the transport of persons more environmentally friendly, trials with alternative forms of propulsion have been initiated. As part of a federally funded research project, two electric vehicles built by the CITYSAX company were purchased. The aim of the pilot project is to test the use of these vehicles in the tough daily routine of aircraft maintenance and to assess the possibility of integrating electromobility into the Lufthansa Technik vehicle fleet.

To try out alternative propulsion technologies Lufthansa Technik is using the two electric cars in its own fleet. Having been painted in a specially developed Lufthansa Technik design, one vehicle is being tested in Frankfurt and a second at the station in Düsseldorf, both on a daily basis. As well as fuel consumption, range and reliability, the primary concern is to gain a firm idea of the battery's charge characteristics and susceptibility to faults.

Maintenance operations place great demands on the vehicles. Use over very short distances results in a lot of wear and tear and high fuel consumption. Electric motors on the other hand are ideal for short distances thanks to their good partial load behavior and they are viewed as durable and requiring little in the way of maintenance. These characteristics will therefore to be examined in the practical test.

Data loggers that automatically collect operational data (for example, driving times and distances, charge times and power consumption) are installed in the vehicles. The data will be analyzed by the Wuppertal Institute and will serve as the basis for assessing the suitability of electric cars for maintenance operations. The future use of electric cars will depend on further developments and on the storage capacity of the batteries, but also on the duration of the charging process. The displays integrated in the vehicles help the drivers to keep within the energy-saving band and provide constant information about the charge status of the battery.

The electric vehicles can be charged with a power cable. For this purpose the cars have sockets at the front and back. Depending on the available infrastructure, it may also be possible to "refuel" the vehicles with high-voltage current. If the battery has been completely discharged, a full charge takes two to three hours. On the other hand, with a conventional domestic power socket the batteries take up to seven hours to charge.

An innovative charging mat was installed in Frankfurt in June 2011. The Frankfurt electric car was then modified so that it just had to be driven over the charging mat to charge up and it was no longer necessary to be connected to a power socket. As soon as the power supply device recognizes the charge state of the battery, the vehicle is charged. A display specially installed in the vehicle shows where it needs to be parked over the charging mat to ensure the optimal charge. The inductive charging mat in Frankfurt is the first of its kind in Germany.

One advantage of electric cars is the superior performance of electric motors on carbon dioxide emissions. With an efficiency of over 90 percent (compared to 30 to 40 percent for internal combustion engines) the equivalent consumption is less than two liters per 100 kilometers. Depending on the power mix used, large carbon dioxide savings can be achieved.