ABB and Volvo to develop fast-charging systems for electric and hybrid buses

Out-Law News | 23 Jul 2014 | 3:40 pm | 1 min. read

Swiss engineering group ABB and Swedish car and bus maker Volvo have launched a partnership to develop and commercialise electric and hybrid buses powered by fast charging systems.

ABB said its electric-bus charging standard “will be largely based” on a new international standard for direct current (DC) fast charging for electric vehicles that was adopted earlier this year by the Geneva-based International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the international standards and conformity assessment body for all fields of electrotechnology.

The ABB-Volvo partnership showed how the new standard would help “stimulate investment and long-term commitment” to infrastructure projects for electric-powered transport systems worldwide, ABB said.

The head of ABB’s ‘discrete automation and motion division’ Pekka Tiitinen said: “Urbanisation is at an historic high and is stretching transport infrastructure of cities around the world. Our collaboration will help support sustainable and cost-efficient transportation solutions to meet rising commuter demand.”

The companies said their first joint project will be to introduce ABB's automatic ‘e-bus chargers’ into Luxembourg’s public transport system, together with 12 Volvo electric hybrid buses for public transport operator Sales-Lentz by 2015.

Volvo Buses said the project is “another strong example” of a public-private partnership between the company, Sales-Lentz and the Luxembourg government. Sales-Lentz became the first European operator to run Volvo hybrids in 2009. The new project will be integrated into a ‘mobility network’ that links different transport schemes across Luxembourg.

ABB said a standardised city-wide charging system will be created for electric and electric hybrid buses, enabling vehicles to be charged quickly using automatic roof-top connections at bus stops or via overnight cable charging systems.

ABB said: “The partnership is focused squarely on standardisation of automatic e-bus fast charging, including the communications protocol between the infrastructure charging solution and e-bus, the electrical interface and specifications for the rooftop automatic connection system.”

ABB has delivered more than 1,500 DC fast charging systems for passenger vehicles worldwide since 2010, rolling out charging networks for utilities, governments, businesses and networks in the Netherlands, Estonia and Denmark.

Volvo Buses said it has delivered nearly 1,600 hybrid vehicles to 21 countries to date. Its first fully electric bus will be launched in June 2015 as part of the ‘ElectriCity’ project in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Volvo Buses’ North American subsidiary, Nova Bus, recently secured an order for 475 hybrid buses for Quebec in Canada. In China, Volvo partner Sunwin Bus has a market share of about 40% in electrically-powered large buses and delivered more than 400 fully electric buses in 2012.

Earlier this month, the IEC said it had signed a renewed cooperation agreement with the Euro-Asian Council for Standardization, Metrology and Certification (EASC), to help expand trade opportunities for EASC countries.

The IEC said “market harmonisation based on IEC international standards will allow EASC countries to limit dependencies and to buy electro-technical products and systems that are able to work with each other from millions of suppliers anywhere in the world”.