Last week saw the launch of the third phase of a pilot that brings together for the first time in the UK, Volvo’s zero emission, fully electric 7900e bus and opportunity chargers using the OppCharge standard from leading Electric Vehicle (EV) charging provider, ABB.
Following a highly successful first and second leg in Manchester city centre and then at Heathrow airport, the service has now launched in Dartford.
Operated by Kent County Council and Arriva, the single deck vehicle will be operating for the next seven weeks on the Fastrack A Route in Dartford, between Greenhithe and Bluewater. The OppCharge fast charger from ABB will be located outside Greenhithe train station, where the bus will be able to charge en-route within three to six minutes, ending the usual practice of having to charge the bus overnight at the bus station and bringing about the possibility of 24 hour continuous bus service for passengers.
Frank Muehlon, Head of ABB’s global business for EV Charging Infrastructure commented: “As the market leader in EV fast charging solutions we are proud to be partnering with Volvo and Kent County Council on delivering the third phase of the UK’s first ever fast charging bus installation. The usage and feedback from the first two phases of the pilot have been very encouraging and we are delighted to be able to now bring this sustainable urban mobility solution to Kent.
“We are confident that this trial will continue to demonstrate the huge improvement electric buses can make on the environmental impact of public transport, with this bus delivering up to 80 percent lower energy consumption than its regular diesel equivalent. We look forward to working closely with the bus industry and others to bring this exciting technology to all parts of the UK.”
ABB chargers are part of the ABB AbilityTM portfolio of digital solutions where cloud connectivity allows for remote diagnosis and management, ensuring reliable and efficient infrastructure for bus passengers. The service will give Fastrack A passengers the opportunity to use the electric bus as an additional service running alongside the usual timetable. The service will cease on 9th May.
Nick Page, Managing Director of Volvo Bus added: “It has been exciting watching the full electric Volvo 7900e continue on its journey of demonstrations across the UK.
“The 7900e, which is part of the Volvo Electromobility range, has been making great strides throughout Europe with successful operations in Sweden, Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg. Increasingly vehicles and technologies are creating a new era in passenger transport, which offers a choice to customers and a variety of options to operators.
“At Volvo Bus we have a vision of supplying a blend of vehicles including hybrids, electric hybrids and full electric vehicles to towns and cities across the UK. Our advanced range of vehicles will significantly contribute to improving the environment for those who live, work and visit these places.”
KCC’s Head of Public Transport Phil Lightowler added: “We’re very proud to be only the second local authority to trial this innovative transport scheme.
“The trial will last for seven weeks as part of Volvo and ABB’s one-year demonstration trials around the country with the majority of costs being covered by both Volvo Bus and their technical partner ABB. The aim is to try this new innovative electric vehicle technology for ourselves and to show that electric buses with limitless range can work for the county.
“It has great benefits for improving air quality and reducing CO2 emissions, which are important to all of us and will allow us to provide evidence that electric vehicles can provide both financial and environmental benefits for the council in the longer term. If this proves a success it will allow us to build a case to roll out similar schemes across the county.”
ABB is the market leader in DC fast charging, with a global installed base of more than 6,500 cloud-connected chargers since 2010 and is now growing in the installed base with OppCharge systems across the world. OppCharge is an open interface for the automated charging of both single and double deck electric buses, from any manufacturer, using a pantograph on the infrastructure to connect the bus to the charging point.
First introduced in mainland Europe in 2015, the Volvo 7900e provides up to 80 percent lower energy consumption than an equivalent sized diesel bus. It is a two-axle bus with electric motor and four high capacity 19kWh Lithium-ion batteries and offers zero tailpipe emissions.