Clean Transport

Published on July 28th, 2014 | by Christopher DeMorro


ABB, Volvo Join Forces On Electric And Hybrid Buses

July 28th, 2014 by  


Last week, automation experts ABB announced an alliance with Volvo Buses to help develop practical hybrid and electric transit solution. The goal is to standardize a charging system that allows the fast recharging of fuel-efficient buses via an automatic rooftop system between stops, or by being plugged in when off the clock.

“We are very pleased to partner with a global transportation industry leader that shares our vision of e-mobility in line with ABB’s commitment of power and productivity for a better world,” said Pekka Tiitinen, head of ABB’s Discrete Automation and Motion division. “Urbanization is at a historic high and is stretching transport infrastructure of cities around the world. Our collaboration will help support sustainable and cost-efficient transportation solutions to meet rising commuter demand.”

The hope is that by utilizing already-accepted standards, ABB and Volvo Buses can accelerate the worldwide rollout of more efficient transit options. Volvo claims its buses can cut fuel consumption by 75% compared with current diesel bus technology. By working together, ABB and Volvo want to standardize the charging methods and procedures between the infrastructure and vehicles, with the first pilot project coming to Luxembourg. where as many as a dozen Volvo hybrid buses will be running on existing lines by the end of 2015.

With over 1,500 fast charging stations delivered by ABB and 1,600 hybrid buses delivered by Volvo since 2009, it seems like an alliance of equals that could affect charging standards the world over.

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About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • JamesWimberley

    Volvo is a major and established player in buses, so its hybrid offer is serious competition for BYD’s all-electric product. Either will be a great advance on current diesel buses. But the pure electric case against hybrids seems stronger than for cars today. BYD’s 150-mile bus already meets the range requirements of most urban bus operators. En-route recharging, as offered by Volvo, is expensive and inflexible compared to overnight charging in central garages, which bus operators already have and can adapt without problems. Any hybrid is mechanically more complex than either ICE or EV, so maintenance costs are likely to be higher, and the capital saving limited. The running costs must be higher than with pure evs. Volvo will offer a pure ev bus in 2015 – five years behind BYD.

    • Vensonata

      Yes. Why hybrid, when city buses are perfect for all electric? Anybody have a theory?

      • paqza

        I imagine it has to do mostly with refueling vs recharge times for operators that need more range. By definition, a hybrid system is more complex with higher running costs, as you and James both note.

      • José DeSouza

        City buses are basically stop and go vehicles. Deceleration and acceleration are power dense taxes the storage batteries heavily. On the other hand, cruising is an energy dense task; one just needs a reliable trickle of power to keep moving. Batteries can obviously do both tasks, but not optimally. A close to an ideal electric hybrid bus would use hydraulics to recover braking energy efficiently and electricity from batteries to do the cruising so as to maximize the timespans between “opportunity” charges. So, it would be a series hydraulic hybrid vehicle in which the ICE had been replaced by an electric motor and it would also carry a relatively and proportionally smaller battery bank on board, so as to maximize running flexibility and to minimize infrastructural expenses. Not a single one has been brought into existence yet, as far as I know. But it should, at least, be given some thought on the grounds of the physics, engineering and economics involved.

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