Volvo, in collaboration with the Swedish Transport Administration, is studying the potential for building electric roads where city buses—built by Volvo, of course—can be charged from electricity in the road while the bus is in operation.
Talk about hot pavement! “The benefit is quieter and more climate-smart public transport,” Volvo says. A 300- to 500-meter (328 to 547 yards) road in central Gothenburg, Sweden is under consideration for construction as a test track next year.
“Vehicles capable of being charged directly from the road during operation could become the next pioneering step in the development towards reduced environmental impact,” says Volvo Group’s Niklas Gustavsson, executive vice president, corporate sustainability and public affairs.
He noted that “close cooperation between society and industry” will be needed for this kind of development to get rolling.
Volvo’s press release explains the idea: With an electric road, vehicle batteries will be continuously charged wirelessly during operation by transferring energy from the electric grid to a vehicle, instead of charging the bus while it is standing still at charging stations. This technology is called inductive charging, also known as wireless charging; in this case the electricity is transferred to the underside of the bus by equipment built into the road.
Volvo said it will develop a detailed proposal under the “innovation procurement” guidelines of the Swedish Transport Administration. The proposal involves building a road section equipped with wireless charge technology and developing vehicles that will automatically charge their batteries when passing through the section.
The road will be built along a bus line in central Gothenburg and be tested for public transport. “Experiences from such a test track will provide valuable knowledge for future political and industrial decisions for establishing electric roads,” Volvo says.
Volvo Group has developed hybrid buses with a traditional diesel engine that is supplemented by an electrical engine to reduce CO2 emissions. Three Volvo plug-in-hybrid buses are already in operation in Gothenburg (project Hyper Bus*), which charge their batteries at the end stations. “The next stage of development is for these types of buses to be able to charge their batteries while in operation, thus increasing the distance the buses can run on pure electricity.”
That’s precisely what is under study with this initiative. Volvo says that in 2015, a new bus line, ElectriCity, will become operational between Chalmers and Lindholmen in Gothenburg. “This line will also provide additional knowledge of charging technology and electric power for heavy vehicles,” Gustavsson said.
ElectriCity – great name. Eddy Grant’s classic comes to mind: “Oh no, we gonna rock down to Electric Avenue/And then we’ll take it higher.”
Image credit: Volvo plug in Hyper Bus, Volvo Group Media