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English   Alternative drive systems in Buses of Daimler AG – Part I
23.12.2008 von admin

After the Second World War: Major order from Argentina

The decision to devote oneself to the trolleybus again after the war was connected with a call for tenders from Argentina. In August 1951 Daimler-Benz submitted a bid based on a post-war model introduced at the beginning of the year, the O 6600 H, an eleven meter long forward-control vehicle with rear-mounted engine, with seats for 38 passengers and standing room for another 52. At the time it was not yet decided whether BBC, Siemens-Schuckert or AEG would contribute the electrical system. Instead of contact-wire bus they now spoke of a trolleybus, despite the fact that the vehicles had long since ceased to pull a contact carriage behind them.

In February 1952 the decision was announced: exactly half of the offered volume of 700 buses went to Daimler-Benz; Henschel and MAN divided the other half between them. At a unit price of 26,300 dollars per vehicle this figured out to aggregate sales of more than ten million dollars. From the one moment to the next, Daimler-Benz became the biggest exporter of trolleybuses, and the O 6600 T became the best-selling German trolleybus of the 1950s. Delivery in 14 installments was agreed, the first of which already left the factory in May 1952, whereas the last was to arrive in Buenos Aires at the end of July 1953.

In the end, the contract for the electrical system was awarded to Kiepe. While the first 50 trolleys were on their way to Buenos Aires, the Gaggenau factory put the O 6600 T to a thorough test in the Baden-Baden trolleybus network from June 23 to September 10, 1952. After 7,626 contact-wire kilometers the head tester came to the reassuring conclusion: “The electric system generally performed to our satisfaction.”

Mercedes-Benz O 6600 T for Argentina - 1952

But that was about it for the trolleybus business. Although Wiesbaden, Pforzheim, Heilbronn and Baden-Baden did take an interest in the trolley, except for eight units for Offenbach, only a handful of the German version of the O 6600 T2 went to other cities. By the mid-fifties the trolleybus euphoria had already passed its peak. Many of the lines in the 68 German cities that used trolleybuses in that period were too short to occupy an adequate market segment between streetcar lines and bus systems. Despite unquestionable advantages – low-noise, emission-free operation, better traction on hills – the trolleybus found itself at a competitive disadvantage versus the diesel engine and has not been able to make up for it since.

But while one manufacturer after the other gave up on the electric drive, and one city after the other discontinued its trolleybus lines, in the late 1960s Daimler-Benz began looking around for new solutions.

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