Volvo’s first right hand drive 7900e fully electric single deck bus, which arrived in the UK this summer, is now embarking on a demonstration tour in towns and cities throughout the country.
Starting in Manchester at an event on Friday (September 22) attended by new Mayor for Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, the trial features ‘OppCharge’ opportunity charging via an inverted pantograph for the first time in a major British city.
Operated by First Manchester on behalf of Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), the vehicle will be operating on the Metroshuttle 2 route – a free-to-use service that provides access to key locations across the city centre. It will be deployed for a period of eight weeks from the middle of September.
The zero emission, fully electric bus will be recharged on the route, taking between three to six minutes via the innovative OppCharge pantograph from ABB, a global leader in EV charging solutions worldwide. Installed at the Shudehill Interchange, this is the first time the system has been used in the UK, giving flexibility and the possibility of 24-hour continuous operation.
Following the Manchester trial, the vehicle will be heading for a demonstration at London’s Heathrow Airport for a period of eight weeks. This will involve transporting airport staff and customers to and from the carparks and terminals.
Nick Page, Managing Director of Volvo Bus UK & Ireland, said: “We are very excited to see the Volvo 7900e start its first demonstration period here in Manchester. Knowing how committed Mayor Andy Burnham and TfGM are to improving air quality, we are confident the 7900e and accompanying technologies can go a long way to helping them achieve their goals.
“Part of the Volvo Electromobility range, the 7900e has already proved its worth throughout Europe, having been operated successfully in countries including Sweden, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg and it is great to be seeing our full electric and emission-free bus making its debut in the UK.
“At Volvo Bus we have a strong vision of supplying a blend of vehicles including hybrids, electric hybrids and full electric vehicles to towns and cities across the UK, which will significantly contribute to improving the environment for those who live, work and visit these places.
“Increasingly these vehicles and technologies are creating a new era in passenger transport when used in conjunction with each other to deliver a true customer-focused solution for operators.”
Phil Medlicott, Managing Director at First Manchester, said: “As one of the UK’s major bus operators, we understand the vital role we play in helping to solve the air quality challenge facing the country and we’re therefore thrilled to be part of the trial of the electric vehicle in Manchester.”
Cllr Andrew Fender, Chairman of the TfGM Committee, said: “It’s the first time this type of bus and charging technology has been used in the UK and so to have it debuting in Manchester is a real coup.
“I’m really proud of our green credentials but absolutely we can do more.
“We know that harmful emissions have a significant and detrimental impact on the quality of air we breathe, so it’s therefore vital that we explore the technology available to us as we look at how we can make our public transport system the greenest it can be.
“We’re going to look very closely at how it performs over the course of this trial and I’m looking forward to seeing the results.”
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “Congestion is a crippling problem facing so many roads in Greater Manchester. It affects people’s quality of life, it costs our businesses and it creates poor air quality that contributes to illness and premature death. This can’t carry on.
“That’s why I am launching my ‘congestion conversation’ today. I want to get people’s views on tackling congestion, what impact it has, what causes it and ideas on how we can work together to make things better. I want to find out what it would take to encourage people to leave their cars at home and instead use public transport, cycle to work, or car share with others.”
First introduced in mainland Europe in 2015, the Volvo 7900e provides up to 80% lower energy consumption than an equivalent sized diesel bus. It is a two-axle bus with electric motor and four high-capacity 19 kWh Lithium-ion batteries and offers zero tailpipe emissions.