Wirelessly charged city bus tested for the first time in Sweden

Wirelessly charged city bus tested for the first time in Sweden

Scania has become the first company in Sweden to test a wirelessly charged electric-hybrid city bus. The bus will start operating on the streets of Södertälje, Sweden, in December 2016 as part of a research project into sustainable vehicle technology.

The bus can be wirelessly charged at one of its stops via a charging station located under the road surface (1). A receiver, mounted in the bus floor, absorbs electric energy (2) and charges the battery (3).

The bus can be wirelessly charged at one of its stops via a charging station located under the road surface (1). A receiver, mounted in the bus floor, absorbs electric energy (2) and charges the battery (3).

Scania is undertaking intensive research into various types of electrification technologies that could replace or complement combustion engines. Induction is among the options being investigated and would involve vehicles wirelessly recharging their batteries via electrified roads.

Now, for the first time in Sweden, Scania and the Stockholm based Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) plan to test the technology in real-life conditions. The project will be run through their jointly operated Integrated Transport Laboratory research centre.

And yesterday it was announced that the Swedish Energy Agency will provide 9.8 MSEK for the project’s realisation. Other stakeholders include Södertälje Municipality, Stockholm County Council and Tom Tits, the tech-oriented museum for children and youths.

Refill wirelessly from the road surface

Scania Citywide LE 6x2, rear-steered hybrid bus. Södertälje, Sweden Photo: Dan Boman 2014

Starting June 2016 a hybridised Scania Citywide Low Entry with a prototype for a new charge-hybrid-powertrain will go into daily operation in Södertälje.

As part of the field tests, a Scania citybus with an electric hybrid powertrain will go into daily operation in Södertälje in December 2016. At one of the bus stops there will be a charging station where the vehicle will be able to refill wirelessly from the road surface enough energy for a complete journey in just six-seven minutes.

“The main purpose of the field test is to evaluate the technology in real-life conditions,” says Håkan Sundelin, research and development coordinator for hybrid technology at Scania. “We want to learn more about the technology and how the systems perform together but also how passengers and drivers perceive it. Our goal is that they will not see any differences.”

Enormous potential in electrification

There is enormous potential in the switch from combustion engines to electrification, according to Sundelin. “The field test in Södertälje is the first step towards entirely electrified roads where electric vehicles take up energy from the road surface.”

“To build an infrastructure and convert bus fleets to vehicles that run exclusively on electricity will provide many advantages for a city,” he says. “With a fleet of 2,000 buses, the city can save up to 50 million litres of fuel each year. This means the fuel costs decrease by up to 90 percent.”

Håkan Gustavsson demonstrates the power collector under the truck.

Induction technology means that that the vehicle wirelessly takes up energy from electrified roads. Håkan Sundelin, research and development coordinator for hybrid technology at Scania shows the receiver under the bus that takes up energy and charges the battery.

Wireless charging “attractive”

Apart from induction, Scania’s research and development department is looking at different technology options, including the take-up of energy from overhead electrical wires or charging stations.

“Wireless charging is of course attractive from an aesthetic point of view, but we are interested in all means of charging. Our customers have different needs and prerequisites when it comes to switching to more sustainable transport. Therefore we don’t want focus on just one technology. Instead we are continuing research in different areas.”