It seems that Volvo and ABB can’t stop, won’t stop, rolling out electrified transit solutions in Europe. The team over at Volvo reached out to us to share that the Belgian cities of Charleroi and Namur have put in orders totaling 90 Volvo 7900 Electric Hybrid buses paired with 12 fast charging stations from ABB.
This autumn, 55 of the buses will head to Charleroi with 4 ABB fast chargers in tow, and another 35 buses are destined for Namur and will be kept juiced up by 8 ABB fast charging stations. This latest order by the TEC Group follows an earlier order of 11 electric hybrid Volvo buses for the city of Namur that went operational in January this year.
With this order, 90% of the public transport in Namur will be electrified, delivering significant emission reductions for residents.
This has been a great week for Volvo hybrid electric buses and ABB, with this news following a smaller installation by the City of Luxembourg. Both installations made use of the Volvo 7900 Hybrid Electric bus paired with ABB Fast Chargers that are OppCharge compliant. Building and installing fast chargers built to the OppCharge open standard ensures that the charging stations can be used by electrified buses from other vehicle manufacturers in the future, if needed.
Volvo Buses President Håkan Agnevall shared some of the Volvo team’s excitement about the order:
“This is extremely gratifying! The order is a new milestone in our electromobility drive and confirms the competitiveness of our offer. We can see that more and more of the world’s cities are choosing electrified city bus traffic in order to deal with poor air quality and noise. The common interface for fast charging of buses and trucks, OppCharge, is gaining ground. The use by many suppliers of a common interface will facilitate the transition to electromobility in the world’s cities.”
I’m always a bit skeptical of “hybrid electric” solutions, as it makes it easy for owners to claim that they “went electric” but the true impact on emissions is less clear … so I dug a bit deeper into the Volvo 7900 Electric Hybrid. These buses are designed to run on pure electricity for about 70% of their routes and can recharge in just 3–4 minutes at 150 kW. Compared to a conventional diesel bus, this cuts emissions by 60% — which, while not perfect, is a large step towards cutting nasty diesel emissions in city centers.
Personally, if I were in charge of a city transit authority, I would want to see the data comparing diesel buses to hybrid buses (not plug-ins) to “electric hybrid” buses (like these plug-in Volvos) to pure electric buses like those offered by BYD. I don’t have the data at present, but I’m confident someone in one of the sales groups has already done the math.
I’ll dig around and see what I can pull together, but if nothing else, these electric hybrid solutions deliver immediate emission reductions and include chargers that can be used if/when the transit authority decides to go with a fully electric bus.
CEO of TEC Group, Vincent Peremans, provides some insights into why his group chose to go with an electric hybrid solution:
“As public transport company, the TEC Group is very proud to be a leader in the increase of the energy efficiency of its fleet. This strategic investment will participate in the improvement of the quality of life in the main city centers, and will allow the Walloon Region to achieve its environmental goals. The hybrid technology is the best compromise between the operational constraints and the energy efficiency for urban buses today.”