Lothian to lead the way

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Route 30 is currently operated by 'conventional' hybrid 7900s. STUART MONTGOMERY
Route 30 is currently operated by ‘conventional’ hybrid 7900s. STUART MONTGOMERY

Partnership will see the UK’s first Volvo electric recharging system introduced in Edinburgh

Volvo and Lothian Buses have agreed to introduce 24 Electric Hybrid buses onto route 30 in Edinburgh. Lothian is the first UK operator to place an order for the new 7900 Electric Hybrid single-decker, which was officially launched at the IAA show in September.

Formerly known as plug-in, the electric hybrid combines Volvo’s familiar hybrid technology with an electric recharging system at each end of the route. The result is much extended battery-only operation without losing any of the flexibility associated with the regular Volvo hybrid.

On route 30, the charging stations will be located in Musselburgh and Clovenstone. The charging station is to be manufactured by Siemens – although in line with the ZeEUS (Zero Emission Urban Bus Scheme), it will be able to re-charge other manufacturer’s buses. A mock-up of the technology formed part of Volvo’s stand at the recent Euro Bus Expo.

Impressively, Volvo said a bus can go from flat to fully charged in just six minutes – although route 30 allows for re-generative power.

The project is timed to follow the introduction of the bus into series production in late 2015 or early 2016. The achieved fuel saving is estimated at almost one third less diesel consumption, relative to hybrid buses. Lothian Buses will also benefit from another significant innovation installed on the new vehicles – geo-fencing. This technique uses the bus location to alter vehicle behaviour.

This includes limiting speed near schools, or particularly prevalently in this project, switching to battery operation for zero-tailpipe emissions when running through Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA).

There are three AQMAs on the route – at Saughton to Balgreen (1.7km); The Exchange in the c ity centre, to Commonwealth Pool (4km); and Braunton Theatre to Newbigging (1km).

The overall targets for the project are to reduce air quality emissions, noise and energy costs. This is in accordance with the Local Transport Strategy of Edinburgh City Council and the ‘Switched On Scotland: Adoption of Plug-In Vehicles’ roadmap from Transport Scotland.

Phil Owen, Volvo’s Bus Sales Director said: “Electric hybrid allows vehicles to run on electricity for reasonable distances. It gives operators flexibility. In battery mode, the buses can run up to 50kph (31mph). The maximum distance before a re-charge is required is 7km (4.3 miles).”

Phil added: “It’s a commercial project between us and Lothian Buses. The technology complements the existing transport system in that it support the tram. Vehicles are to be bought rather than leased.”

The current peak vehicle requirement is 18 but it that figure is due to  rise to 22 owing to a planned increase in frequency – hence the three spares.

Ulf Magnusson, Senior Vice President, Business Region Europe at Volvo Bus Corporation commented: “This project highlights our Electromobility Programme of increasing the use of electricity in urban buses without losing the versatility of the modern low emission Euro 6 vehicle. I would like to thank Lothian Buses for their confidence in us and we totally support their aims for the city environment.”