City buses: Retrofitting
from diesel to all-electric-drive - ZAwheel

Busworld Brussels - The newly-converted MAN bus with the "genuine ZAwheel" in-wheel hub drive, the highlight of the CO2 Expo in Brussels 2019

10/19 Busworld - Brussels
It takes us just a week to convert these diesel buses to all-electric buses“, says the Managing Director of „I see electric busses GmbH“, Andreas Pfeffer, in his press release issued on 15.10.2019. (You can read all about this in the full press release below). A converted MAN bus, equipped with the „genuine“ ZAwheel in-wheel hub drive from ZIEHL-ABEGG AUTOMOTIVE GmbH & Co.KG, was on hand at the “Busworld” trade fair in Brussels”, giving visitors the chance to see the vehicle close up and take a test ride.

“Diesel vehicle retrofitting is where the future lies“, says Andreas Pfeffer, because in order to meet the climate targets set by the members of the EU Parliament this objective has to be approached from numerous directions. New vehicles are still expensive and simply unaffordable for many towns and cities. That’s where the cost-effective and speedy conversion to emissionfree travel is the perfect answer. This view is also shared by the politicians e.g. in the state of Schleswig-Holstein who provided financial support for retrofitting the first MAN bus for public transport use.

I see electric busses is putting all its faith in the „genuine“ electric in-wheel hub drive, i.e. the version produced by ZIEHL-ABEGG, and for good reason. Andreas Pfeffer values the innovative technology used in the ZAwheel special in-wheel hub drive because the idea e.g. of any gears for electric motors on the wheel hub is simply out of the question as far as he is concerned. „There are problems with gears at high speeds.” By contrast, ZAwheel from ZIEHL-ABEGG is an electric, in-wheel hub drive that doesn’t require any transmission. The in-wheel hub motor sits completely inside the hub. The use of ZAwheel has allowed support for sustainability to be provided in every aspect. Whether for new vehicles or when retrofitting old diesel buses to electric drive. “Savings are achieved in every case” says Ralf Arnold, Managing Director of ZIEHLABEGG AUTOMOTIVE GmbH & Co.KG. „ZAwheel applies the full power of the drive directly onto the road. That’s the crucial advantage over other engine concepts. And this generates both energy and cash savings the minute the vehicle drives off. We are pleased with all the numerous positive indications and feedback we’ve received on ZAwheel“, says Ralf Arnold.

In conclusion, it can be stated quite clearly today that this year‘s Busworld 2019 trade fair will provide the turning point on the subject of the emission-free city bus. Good news for all campaigners for climate protection.

Read the full press release from „I SEE Electric Busses GmbH“ here.


ZAwheel® is as quiet as a mouse when driving and costs much less overall to operate than previous bus drive concepts have. This is for real. ZAwheel® puts the future right on the street. Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel was impressed to find this when she visited this year‘s Hanover trade fair, where Peter Fenkl, chairman of the board of ZIEHL-ABEGG SE, introduced the smart ZAwheel® drive system to her. The fine-dust debate is a thing of the past with ZAwheel® and smelly diesel engines can also be displaced by the modern wheel hub drive ZAwheel®. The recipe for the new drive concept, which was created by ZIEHL-ABEGG in many years of research and development work, is very simple: ZAwheel® does not need any differentials, gears or exhausts. The drive is located right at the centre of the wheel – wheel-hub drive –, where it applies its entire energy specifically and exclusively for perfect sustainable bus operation on the street without any detours.

ZIEHL-ABEGG Automotive presented its gearless electrical wheel hub drive ZAwheel® - the new generation with impressive success at Busworld in Kortrijk/Belgium.

The press conference hosted by ZIEHL-ABEGG AUTOMOTIVE was attended by many guests and interested persons as well as more than 60 journalists from around the world.

By presenting the new generation of ZAwheel® at Busworld in Kortrijk 2017, the world‘s largest specialist exhibition for service buses and coaches, ZIEHL-ABEGG AUTOMOTIVE finally set the tracks for a clean drive system with great energy savings.

The positive features that this drive system brings amaze even the experts. The list of advantages includes at least 50% energy savings as compared to buses with diesel engines and at least 20% energy savings as compared to other electrical drive concepts, such as that of the central motor. There also is much more inner space in the bus, since no elaborate engine with gear and large attachments is needed. This in turn makes more space for passengers with additional seats or standing places.

From a single source

Highly intelligent

control unit



The ZAwheel® control unit developed by ZIEHL-ABEGG makes it possible to purchase all system components of the axle drive module from a single source. The ZAwheel® control unit comprises hard- and software and manages the complex interaction between the E-components, which makes the E-drive system more efficient.

A positive balance

A positive balance is a logical consequence. The much lower consumption can make do with a smaller battery, thanks to which both weight and energy demand are reduced. This change has a highly positive effect on extending the reach as compared to identically sized batteries. This is not the end of the line either. The company has good reason to advertise its wheel-hub drive ZAwheel® with the words: „Cleanly and quietly through town at last“. The sensationally low acoustic values in a pleasantly gentle operation make riding a city bus truly stress-free in today‘s stressful road traffic for the passengers as well as the staff. Apart from this – and this is targeted at the operators and municipalities – the number of expected maintenance cycles is lower. If you still do not believe in it, you can use a monitoring system for your computer or Smartphone. It will allow you to track the positive data, drives and movements, and in particular the savings, directly through the internet. Taking all the technical questions and highlights together, the result is doubtlessly: „feel the future“ with ZAwheel®.

Label "RetrofitBlue"

By the way: The Retrofitblue program by ZIEHL-ABEGG can also be used to modernise outdated bus concepts to turn them into energy-saving sustainable buses of the future.

next generation

Prevent emissions of 1,000,000 kg CO2 * and become an environmental sponsor

With every purchase or use of electrical ZAwheel® wheelhub drive without combustion engine and gear, you can protect the environment while at the same time profiting off unbeatable advantages for responsible city bus rides at lower costs.

*Calculated across the service life of a diesel bus, at a diesel consumption of 37.5l per 100 km

Advantages at a glance:

    • 75 % Energy saving as compared to diesel vehicles

    • up to 20 % More Mileage

    • 50 % Higher torque

    • up to 20 % Reduced battery size

    • 0 % Emissions

    • 90 % Noise reduction <60 dBA at 30 km/h

    • and Gaining space (additional seats and/or standing places)


Diesel fumes are a thing of the past
and cities can become clean

three little model buses

ZAwheel® can be used in many ways:

  • As rear-axle drive in solo buses
  • As rear-axle drive (pusher) and/or centre axle (puller) in articulated buses

Additional advantages:

  • Reduced tyre wear in articulated buses
  • Improved traction by combination of two driven axles and single wheel drive