First in France. The Flixbus Brest-Grenoble line runs on rapeseed

8:13 a.m. – Modified: 8:18 a.m. by Dolorès CHARLES


The launch yesterday (Wednesday, September 28) in Grand-Champ (56) of the FlixBus LN724 Brest <> Grenoble line is an event in the west, it is the “longest commercial line running 100% biofuel in Europe”. It serves the cities of Brest, Quimper, Lorient, Auray, Vannes, Nantes, Angers, Saumur, Tours, Clermont-Ferrand, Lyon and Grenoble.

Crossing France in a bus that runs on pure rapeseed: this is a first over such a distance, and it will be a reality in a few days. The Flixbus Brest-Grenoble line will become the longest commercial line in Europe to run on 100% biofuel. This link is provided by the Morbihan company Voyages Morio, which has just acquired double-decker buses that will run on rapeseed oil. Cars whose engines are made in France.

The energy transition

The director of Voyages Morio wanted to bring his company into the energy transition. Damien Kerrand:I went to find out about the different energies, in particular gas, electricity and rapeseed. The choice was quite quick because on gas, you can’t do more than 700 kilometers without refueling. On the electric, today, we have 400 kilometers. We, with rapeseed, will manage to cover 2,800 kilometres. And on top of that, rapeseed seems super virtuous to me. I didn’t want to set a target of 2030 or 2040 as we sometimes hear. I wanted an energy transition that was immediate and over a maximum of our production, that is to say a maximum of kilometres. From October, we will do 85% of kilometers in the rapeseed company.”

No price increase

Brand new coaches running on rapeseed, but Flixbus wants to reassure travelers: there will be no increase in fares… But how much does rapeseed oil cost, exactly? Is it more expensive, less expensive, than diesel? The explanations of Damien Kerrand, “rapeseed is paid the same price as diesel. We can say that we suffer from the increase in fuel, but it would be lying to you that we suffer from it on Flixbus, since when the fuel increases, we have more passengers. People are more reluctant to take their car and it is enough to have two more passengers in the bus for that to cancel the effect of the increase in fuel.

Damien Kerrand

Credit: Yann Launay

Canola sown for fuel

But isn’t this rapeseed, used to run buses, taking the place of food production? According to Claire Duhamel, director of Oléo 100, which produces the oil used by Morio cars, this is not the case with this rapeseed harvested in France, since it is not sown specifically to make fuel:

“Rapeseed will go into the nutrition of the French farm of all the farms, which are made in France. They need food rich in protein. And France still imports 50% of the feed for the cattle which is rich in protein, and rapeseed is a solution. 40% of the seed will make oil. 60% will go to the solid part, rich in fiber and protein for breeding. Of the 40% oil , a large part by food and it is all that is in surplus, which cannot find an outlet in edible oil, which will be valued in energy.

Claire Duhamel, director of Oléo 100

Credit: Yann Launay

Damien Kerrand

Rewards for virtuous practices

Critics of biofuels point to an overall balance that is not always so convincing, since the cultivation of rapeseed itself leads to CO2 emissions. But Oleo 100, which produces the fuel used by Morio coaches, seeks to increase the environmental performance of its 100% French oil, by encouraging farmers to optimize their practices, thanks to bonuses:

This can be between 20 and 80 € per ton of additional income for a farmer who will have virtuous practices. These practices can be use less fertilizer. Instead of using chemical nitrogen fertilizers, we will use slurry, for example. This has a very good impact on CO2 emissions. If we don’t plow deep, we will keep the carbon that is stored in the soil. And it will be virtuous for the CO2 balance of rapeseed cultivation.”

Claire Duhamel, director of Oléo 100

Credit: Yann Launay

Rapeseed Flixbus - Voyages Morio

But if rapeseed oil for fuel develops, isn’t there a risk of seeing rapeseed compete with other agricultural productions? Claire Duhamel’s response to Yann Launay: “When we launched OLéo 100, – a 100% plant-based French rapeseed energy, we set ourselves a target of a maximum of 5 to 10% market share of the energy used in heavy goods vehicles… because we wants to stay in a sustainable agriculture. We will be part of an energy mix: each type of transport, its energy. Here, we are talking about long distance, for example with Flixbus long distance, with the need for great autonomy. Biofuel B-100 responds very well to this use.”

Claire Duhamel, director of Oléo 100,

Credit: Yann Launay

The Flixbus Brest-Grenoble line is a night connection, which serves Quimper, Lorient, Auray, Vannes, Nantes, Angers, Saumur, Clermont-Ferrand and Lyon, i.e. a total of 1150km traveled, without refueling. Sustainable passenger transport, agriculture, automotive industry and agri-food industry will be highlighted for this launch, which brings together many skills brought together to fight against greenhouse gas and particle emissions.