ABB Flash-Charging Electric Bus Route To Open In Geneva, Switzerland

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Following an electric bus pilot project that’s been ongoing since May 2013, the city of Geneva, Switzerland, has now signed a contract with ABB and the Swiss bus manufacturer HESS that will see a new all-electric bus route opened by the spring of 2018, according to recent reports.

abb-tosa-flash charging bus-geneva

The new Geneva Public Transport operator (TPG) bus line, dubbed Line 23, will continue making use of the technology used in the pilot project — more specifically, that is elected vehicle (EV) flash-charging technology developed by ABB. Flash charging? Is that like Supercharging? It’s actually a different animal, and a much more powerful one!

ABB’s EV flash charging uses “an overhead high-power charging contact when it pulls into a stop and tops up its batteries during the time its passengers are embarking and disembarking.” It employs a max power output of 600 kilowatt (kW) for 15 to 20 seconds. (Note that the max power output from a Tesla Supercharger is 120 kW, and is 145 kW in theory.)

Importantly, the ABB system (the electric TOSA bus system) is “inherently safe because the overhead connectors are only energized when they are engaged, and the electromagnetic fields associated with inductive charging concepts are avoided.”

ABB flash charging

The pilot project seems to have provided TPG with enough trust in the truth of these claims that a full-scale deployment is now being undertaken via Line 23.

A recent blog post by ABB provides some details on the system: “It takes advantage of the fact that the bus must stop, to let passengers on and off, and that the route is known. The charging stations are placed along the route and the bus’s battery is recharged while passengers are getting on and off the bus.”

There are two different types of chargers used on the route:

  • Flash-charging stations at selected stops provide a short high-power boost at 600 kilowatt (kW) for 15–20 seconds.
  • Terminal feeding stations deliver prolonged charges of 4–5 minutes at 400 kW to fully top-up the on-board batteries. The terminal chargers are an IGBT-based rectifier, which convert the incoming AC supply to a DC one, which can be used by the bus.


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James Ayre

James Ayre'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.

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