Clean Transport

Published on May 29th, 2014 | by James Ayre


Volvo Group Aiming To Test Electric Roads In 2015 In Gothenburg

May 29th, 2014 by  

Image Credit: Volvo

The Volvo Group is currently in the process of putting together a study to test the potential of electric city roads — specifically with regard to buses that can be charged while in operation — according to recent announcements.

The car manufacturer is aiming to have a 300- to 500-meter electric road for test operations in Gothenburg completed by 2015. The benefit of such a system is of course that electric city buses could remain in operation while charging — no charging breaks would be necessary.

“Vehicles capable of being charged directly from the road during operation could become the next pioneering step in the development towards reduced environmental impact, and this is fully in line with our vision of becoming the world leader in sustainable transport solutions. Close cooperation between society and industry is needed for such a development to be possible and we look forward to investigating the possibilities together with the City of Gothenburg,” states Niklas Gustavsson, Executive Vice President, Corporate Sustainability & Public Affairs of the Volvo Group.

The electric roads in question work via what’s called inductive charging — whereby electricity is wirelessly transferred to the batteries on the underside of the vehicles by equipment built into the road. Needless to say, using such a system would greatly cut down on the time that buses need to be taken out of service.

The press release provides more:

The Volvo Group will develop a detailed proposal within the framework of innovation procurement from the Swedish Transport Administration. The proposal entails building a road section equipped with wireless charge technology and developing vehicles that will automatically charge their batteries when passing such a road section. The road will be built along a suitable bus line in central Gothenburg and be tested for public transport. Experiences from such a test track will provide valuable knowledge for future political and industrial decisions for establishing electric roads.

For several years, the Volvo Group has been offering hybrid buses with a traditional diesel engine that is supplemented by an electrical engine to reduce CO2 emissions. Three Volvo plug-in-hybrid buses are already in operation in Gothenburg (project Hyper Bus*), which charge their batteries at the end stations of line 60. The next stage of development is for these types of buses to be able to charge their batteries while in operation, thus increasing the distance the buses can run on pure electricity. And this is exactly what will be studied now. In 2015, a new bus line, ElectriCity, will become operational between Chalmers and Lindholmen in Gothenburg.

“We are working on both a broad and a deep basis to develop the technology of tomorrow. Electric roads are another important part of the puzzle in our aim of achieving transport solutions that will minimize the impact on the environment,” says Niklas Gustavsson.

We’ve actually covered the ElectriCity EV bus system project before — detailing what exactly the upcoming launch entails for the city. The project — which is set to launch in 2015 — will include, along with a fleet of brand new Volvo EV buses, “trial runs of new types of bus stops, improved traffic routing systems, and improved energy supply systems.”

These “improved energy supply systems” are of course the electric roads. It’ll be interesting to see how they do.

Image Credit: Volvo

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • Calamity_Jean

    Does Gothenburg have bus stops where people wait to be picked up, or does the bus just stop anywhere people flags it down? If they have bus stops, it seems to me that the logical place for an inductive charging location would be at the bus stop. Or does the bus need to be in motion for the inductive charging to work?

    • Omega Centauri

      That was largely the question I was going to ask. If they have pullovers for the bus to stop at, it might be more economical to only put the chargers there. Also there might be a freerider problem, as other types of electric vehicle might try to get a free charge. But, if it only worked at pullovers where only busses are supposed to be, enforcement would be a lot easier.

    • DGW

      Exactly! And the under-pavement power lines could extend beyond the station which would power the bus acceleration rather than draining the batteries.
      This is the future of perhaps for all road transportation. You would drive your Tesla along a “Power Lane” topping off your batteries without stopping.

    • No way

      Yes, the buses always stop at the same places and you can’t flag a bus down to be picked up. Sometimes there are specific pullovers where only the bus will stop and sometimes it’s just a stop along the road which will hold up trafik behind the bus when passengers exit and enters (normally in low trafic streets and unpopular stops with vert few passengers entering or exiting).

      There are many different tests being conducted in Sweden with a project called “electrified roads” by the swedish transport department, energy department and the innovation department of the swedish government. Which has put money and resources avaliable to make these projects in colaboration with different companies in Sweden like Volvo and Scania. Some of the projects are ordered and payed by different city councils. And some of course made by the companies themselves.
      Projects with induction in all the road, like this one. With induction at the stops. With overhead fast charging at stops. With overhead charging during the trip. With overhead charging + battery for sliding out of the overhead lines and driving just on batteries for shorter periods of times. With pantographs but with tracks in the road.
      And this is supposed to make all heavy traffic electrified one day. The projects are both for buses and trucks.

      • Calamity_Jean

        Aha! Now I understand. They are trying a bunch of different things to see what system works best. Good idea.

        Thanks for the answer.

        • No way

          Exactly. Both valid and less valid projects to get a wider competence and understanding. Both the bus and truck industry are big in Sweden and innovation is important for a small tech driven country so it’s to try to be in the forefront to be able to satisfy the demand of customers all over the world in the future.
          But solutions will be used locally too of course. Electric is preferable even though most buses here run on renewable energy anyway.

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