DANCER Bus - proof that cooperation between Germany and Lithuania works
Collaboration between Lithuania and Germany is at unparalleled levels. During last three decades, German companies – such as Continenal, Hella, Rehau or Schmitz Cargobull (amongst many others) – have opened manufacturing facilities in Lithuania.
Such cooperation is evident not only at the multinational level, but in Lithuania’s vibrant start-up scene as well. One of the most recent successful collaborations comes from the Lithuanian company UAB Vėjo Projektai. It is the first company in Lithuania to have acquired the status of a globally issued vehicle manufacturer. Their primary product, a fully electric bus called Dancer, already far outperforms competing electric city busses.
At present, the company works with ten German suppliers. They provide important components of the bus, such as the chassis axles, auxiliary system converters, power steering modules, air compressors, driver’s seats, and some interior details.
In addition, Vėjo Projektai works with German suppliers of equipment for electric bus charging stations, which they design and install for Dancer buses to ensure super-fast battery charging – taking just 8 minutes.
As Alvydas Naujėkas, the CEO of Vėjo Projektai, notes:
“When creating and designing the Lithuanian electric bus Dancer, we strive to ensure the highest product quality and durability. Therefore, we purchase the necessary components from suppliers who are well known in the automotive industry. Of course, in some cases our team of scientists develop some parts themselves, and then send our orders based on our projects to manufacturers.”.
Vėjo Projektai purchases over half of the components required for manufacturing Dancer buses in Lithuania from suppliers across Europe. As the above shows, Germany is a key part of this. The country has strong traditions in the automotive industry. Given this, when designing its electric bus, Vėjo Projektai was quick to cooperate with German manufacturers. Mr. Naujėkas states that Vėjo Projektai is happy with this decision as “manufacturers in the German transport industry are excellent partners, not only because of the very clear rules and principles of cooperation, but also their reliability, high-quality products and competencies.”
Vėjo Projektai believes that their electric buses will be of paramount importance in the future. Following the EU’s Green New Deal, which sets the ambitious goal of reducing air pollution from transport by 90% before 2050, developing forms of zero emission transport is now essential.
Germany itself has plans to renew their fleets of public transport. For electric bus manufacturers such as Vėjo projektai, this is a golden opportunity. The company aims to not only to have partnerships with component manufacturers in Germany but also to deliver final products to the country.
Naujėkas notes that many public transport operators in Germany have suffered heavy reductions in passenger flows and financial losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. He explains:
“That is why we have developed a comprehensive Dancer Mobility offer that offers public transport operators the chance to purchase the vehicles on very attractive financial conditions. With such options, companies can start operating electric buses while using a flexible payment model based on the actual use of the bus, according to the travel distance of a bus. This allows transport operators not only to use new, electric buses to carry passengers, but also to get maintenance and service for these vehicles, as well as green electricity for charging and all needed charging infrastructure.”
Mr. Naujėkas confirms that Lithuania’s transport industry is growing rapidly. After all, the country has EU-leading higher education numbers and a diverse talent pool, which contains 41,500 engineering and 31,500 IT specialists. Besides, in Lithuania’s higher education system there are more than 40 000 students in both these specialties combined. Finally, Lithuanian companies, which create and implement innovations, follow the principle of cooperation across the scientific and business community. This has brought the country special attention.
All in all, the Baltic Tiger is competing well in old markets, such as the automotive industry. Cases such as Vėjo Projektai with its Dancer Bus, however, prove that the country is also a trailblazer. Further cooperation between Germany and Lithuania can only unlock our common prosperity.
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