Kent county council has launched a seven-week electric bus trial for the county, part of a demonstrator project with Volvo Bus and engineering firm ABB.
The trial was launched by the leader of the council, Paul Carter, on Tuesday (March 20) and involves the use of ‘OppCharge’ – Opportunity Charging.
Opportunity charging takes place via a specialist overhead mast, which connects to the bus via a pantograph on top of the vehicle. Charging is fully automated and takes between three and six minutes to complete.
Through the trial a single deck Volvo 7900e fully electric bus is being deployed on an hourly route between Greenhithe, Bluewater and Dartford. The bus will recharge outside Greenhithe train station in under six minutes, in a bid to demonstrate the fast charging capability of the OppCharge system.
The bus provides up to 80% lower energy consumption than an equivalent diesel bus, according to the manufacturer.
Commenting on the trial Councillor Carter said: “We’re very proud to be only the second local authority to trial this innovative transport scheme.
“The trial will last for seven weeks as part of Volvo and ABB’s one-year demonstration programme which will see the vehicle and infrastructure operate around the country with the majority of costs being covered by both Volvo Bus and their technical partner ABB.
“The aim of the trial is to try this new innovative electric vehicle technology for ourselves and to show that electric buses with limitless range can work for the county.
“It has great benefits for improving air quality and reducing CO2 emissions which are important to all of us and will allow us to provide evidence that electric vehicles can provide both financial and environmental benefits for the council in the longer term
“If this proves a success it will allow us to build a case to roll out similar schemes across the county.â€?
Nick Page, managing director of Volvo Bus added: “It has been exciting watching the full electric Volvo 7900e continue on its journey of demonstrations across the UK.
“Kent is the third location following the initial trial in Manchester in September last year and subsequently at Heathrow Airport.
“The 7900e, which is part of the Volvo Electromobility range, has been making great strides throughout Europe with successful operations in Sweden, Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg.
“Increasingly vehicles and technologies are creating a new era in passenger transport which offers a choice to customers and a variety of options to operators.â€?
Christine Gayle, general manager, Arriva Northfleet, said: “Arriva are both pleased and excited to be taking part in this trial in partnership with KCC, Volvo, Prologis, ABB and other stakeholders.
“Given that buses are seen as the solution to reducing congestion and poor air quality a bus that is powered by electricity will produce Zero emissions at the point of delivery and is seen as a good alternative to natural gases or diesel.
“Arriva fully support this trial and the prospects of providing cleaner transportation, with substantial benefits to the environment.â€?
Harrogate is expected to be the first place in the UK to permanently deploy the OppCharging system, which is due to go live in May 2018.