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Athens tests Chinese-made electric buses as Greece embraces mobility

Photo shows the inside view of the electric bus Yutong U12 from China in Athens, Greece, Oct. 21, 2020. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)

ATHENS, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- The Athens Mass Transit System and some of Greece's other municipalities plan to add electric buses to their existing fleets and in recent months they invited manufacturers to offer vehicles for trials. Two Chinese manufacturers were among the companies that expressed interest.

The first pilot run of Chinese automaker BYD's electric bus took place in September, without passengers on board. The bus is 12 meters long and can carry 76 passengers, 23 of them seated and plus one person in wheelchair. It is powered by a 348-kilowatt battery and offers wireless connectivity (wifi) and USB charging stations for mobiles, according to a press release issued by Athens' bus and trolleybus network operator OSY S.A.

On Wednesday another bus, manufactured by Yutong, a manufacturer of commercial vehicles headquartered in Zhengzhou, in central China's Henan Province, followed, carrying passengers this time. The Yutong U12 model is 12 meters long and has a capacity of 74 passengers, including 27 seated and one person in a wheelchair. It is powered by a 350-kilowatt battery and also offers USB charging stations for mobiles, according to the Greek public transport operator.

"In the context of the major tender we will formally launch next month for the acquisition of 1,300 new buses, including 1,000 for OSY S.A. and among these about 400 electric buses, companies from across the world participate in an effort overseen by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport," Stefanos Agiasoglou, OSY S.A.'s chief executive officer told Xinhua on Wednesday.

"The aim is to have a few test vehicles so that we can assess their potentials and also get the public, the passengers acquainted with them so that they can also see how a new and modern electric bus operates. We will check how they perform in the center of Athens and other areas so that we can have the best possible result when we use these new vehicles, as we actually move forward to a new era," Agiasoglou said.

The Yutong bus was made available to the Greek authorities for a two-month test, he said, while the OSY will also test next week a bus made in the Czech Republic and another one assembled in Spain, the Greek official said.

The electric bus Yutong U12 from China is seen starting its first route in Athens, Greece, Oct. 21, 2020. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)

The electric bus Yutong U12 from China is seen transporting passengers in Athens, Greece, Oct. 21, 2020. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)

The electric bus Yutong U12 (L) from China is seen in Athens, Greece, Oct. 21, 2020. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)

The electric bus Yutong U12 from China is seen in Athens, Greece, Oct. 21, 2020. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)