Electrifying public transit could have a much more profound impact on transportation emissions than one might think. Beginning in 2016, the Swedish city of Södertälje will launch a project testing a Scania hybrid-electric bus that can wirelessly recharge in about seven minutes. A city deploying a fleet of these buses would save millions of liters of fuel annually.
“To build an infrastructure and convert bus fleets to vehicles that run exclusively on electricity will provide many advantages for a city,” says Håkan Sundelin, research and development coordinator for Scania. “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.”
When the project launches, one of the bus stations will be equipped with an inductive battery recharging system that can transfer enough energy to complete a full journey back to the station. Unfortunately the press release doesn’t note exactly how far this journey is, though it’s hardly the first shot at a fast-charging electric bus. If other wireless electric buses are anything to go by though, it’s probably not very far.
Volvo is testing a similar pilot project in Sweden, but uses a powerful overhead connector to rapidly recharge batteries instead. BMW and Mercedes are among the automakers aiming to bring wireless charging to personal automobiles as well. But buses can carry many times more people, help reduce congestion, and when running primarily on electricity, can reduce urban pollution to a much greater degree.
Hybrid buses might not be the sexiest green technology out there, but wireless charging is pretty damn cool. Imagine being able to recharge your LEAF or Tesla by just parking your car for five minutes? Now that’s kinda sexy, in a nerdy car geek kinda way.