‘Wireless’ electric buses will drive down fleet costs

The introduction of wirelessly charged electric buses in Milton Keynes could cut 500 tonnes of tailpipe CO2 emissions and reduce bus running costs by £12-15k a year.

Eight organisations, led by a subsidiary of Mitsui & Co Europe (Mitsui), will sign a five-year collaboration agreement to replace diesel buses with their electric counterparts on one of the main bus routes in the city by the summer of 2013.

Eight electric buses will operate on the number 7 route which currently transports over 775,000 passengers a year, over a total of 450,000 miles.

The buses will be able to charge their buses wirelessly through the day by receiving power transmitted from a coil in buried in the road. This means that for the first time, electric buses will be able to carry the equivalent load of a diesel bus.

It is hoped that data collected from the Milton Keynes trial could demonstrate the economic viability of low carbon public transport and help it to spread in other cities.

Mitsui managing director Noriaki Sakamoto pointed out that, with the withdrawal of diesel bus subsidies, operational costs for these vehicles are expected to rise.

He added: “This, coupled with the anticipated reduction in the cost of batteries and electric drive systems for buses, as well as the introduction of wirelessly charging during the day, now means that the electric bus is a real contender in the future of public transport. Innovation and trials are urgently needed to find a new way forward.”

Conor McGlone

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