Inauguration of a new OPPCharge station

Last week, a new Charging station was inaugurated in Göteborg.

It took place at a spot close to the southern archipelago of Gothenburg.

vingaPhoto of Vinga viewed from Vrångö

The OPPCharge community has now grown to 16 automatic fast chargers. For Volvo, the new charging station confirms that the Volvo electric buses can charge from chargers from two OPPCharge suppliers, Siemens and ABB. Previously Siemens has demonstrated that their charger is compatible with both Volvo and Solaris electric buses.

OPPCharge is:

  • An open interface for automatic fast charging of vehicles
  • OPPCharge stations so far have been providing, 150, 300 and 450 kW
  • All moving parts are integrated in the charging station
  • Conductive static charging by pantograph
  • Communication by Wifi with directed antenna
  • Charging from -25 °C to +45 °C
  • Volvo Cooperates with ABB and Siemens for charging infrastructure


This charger is the first in a series of 8 that ABB is about to deliver for charging Volvo buses.

In a near future we are about to deliver:

  • 31 Electric Hybrid buses and
  • 7 charging stations together with ABB.

It is Luxemburg and Namur that are about to start electric/plug-in bus services.


Electric buses are energy efficient and sustainable. Electric buses in Göteborg use: 1.05 kWh per kilometer yearly average.

The local windmill, big Glenn, can produce a maximum of 4 MW a windy day. This is enough to supply 750 electric buses with electricity. Big Glenn produces enough energy on a yearly basis to supply 150 Electric buses in Göteborg traffic with electricity.


The OPPCharge station was inaugurated by Robert Larsson (ABB), Håkan Agnevall (Volvo Bus), Jenny Miltell (ABB) and myself.

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ElectriCity 1 year


The ElectriCity partnership has been underway in Gothenburg, Sweden since 2013. The 14 partners have summarized their experiences so far in a report.

ElectriCity is about:

A new bus route – route 55 – with electric buses operating in the centre of Gothenburg.

A demo arena for new bus stop solutions, transport management systems, safety concepts and networked technology and systems for energy supplies and storage, for example.

A platform for research into urban planning and building, technological development and behaviour patterns.

A source of inspiration and motivation for future urban development.


The bus route is speckled by innovation and the impact on the attractiveness is evident.


The travelers appreciate the USB connections for charging mobile devices and the seamless* Wifi is rated top features among the travelers.

* Seamless means that the bus stops and the buses are providing one integrated net so that the travelers once logged on the first time will automatically access internet during the full journey from the bus stop to the destination.

Some features are more evident than others. Some are not even meant to be noticed. Nevertheless, my personal favorites:

Safe, silent and emission free zones:

The buses on route 55 are equipped with a zone management system which automatically controls the buses’ operation and speed in different areas. For example, the system ensures that the electric hybrid buses cannot enter the indoor bus stop with their diesel engines running and restricts their speed as they enter and leave.


The zone management system also covers other environments which the buses share with pedestrians and cyclists. In these areas, the buses have to operate at a low speed. For example, the system ensures a high level of road safety in the square between Teknikgatan and Lindholmsallén where there are a lot of pedestrians and cyclists. In the electric hybrid buses, zone management is used to specify the zero-emission areas where the buses have to operate quietly using electricity. In all the buses on route 55, the system is used to limit the buses’ speed in areas where there are large numbers of vulnerable road users.

The zone management system has been developed, implemented and tested on route 55. The drivers feel that the system supports them and helps them to focus on driving, which reduces the risk of stress and accidents.

Indoor Bus stop


The end bus stop on Teknikgatan in Lindholmen is indoors in an annex to an existing building. The annex has a glass facade and a sedum roof. Next door there is a café which helps to create a pleasant environment for passengers waiting for buses. The bus stop also has a USB port for charging mobile phones and there is a collection point for DHL parcels.

Fast Charging

The new concept of fast charging has been a breakthrough for electric buses. The automatic fast charging allows buses to top-up the battery at terminal stations. The life time of the battery is prolonged and the amount of battery required for the operation is reduced.

The new principle was developed with Siemens and has now been offered as an open platform to all bus manufacturers and charging system suppliers. The industry has embraced the OppCharge System.




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Smart Gas

No two cities are alike. But, they often share similar challenges. It is therefore becoming increasingly important to propose common concepts in a “city context”. Traditionally, we have focused on the bus and its impact. Going forward, the imperative would be to look holistically, into areas such as synergies between clean energy and waste management. The idea is to deliver energy sustainability without taking more out of depleting fossil fuels and food production.

Volvo and Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery AB have jointly researched a novel concept for smart cities over the last 6 months. On May 2, for the first time, Bengt Gudmundsson (Siemens) and I presented the concept of “Smart Gas” at the ‘India Unlimited’ Seminar organized by the Indian Embassy in Sweden along with some partners.

We feel that we have found a beautiful concept to improve quality of living in cities:

  • Wastes and sewage is an increasingly sanitary issue. Cities need to find methods to reuse wastes in efficient ways. By fermentation, wastes are converted to biogas and the remains become nitrogen rich fertilizer meant for agriculture.
  • Congestion is and increasingly an issue that amplifies the negative impacts of cars. Cities need to provide public transport alternatives that can compete with private cars when it comes to comfort and convenience for citizens. The new generation of fast charged electric buses have what it takes to attract car users. The eco-friendliness and ability to climb in steep inclinations (in contrary to rail bound alternatives) allows buses to use compact cost efficient tunnels to pass under congested crossings. Or why not run in metro-style tunnels in parts of the cities?
  • Air quality is improved radically by extremely low emissions at the power plant. The contribution to city smog becomes 100 times less than today and no emissions are let out in the air close to the travelers.
  • Noise is reduced by a great extent. This allows public transport to more effectively access residential districts.
  • Modern living in cities includes climate controlled apartments. Unfortunately, most commonly, apartments are equipped with small inefficient Air Conditioning units, frequently placed on the façade of the building facing sunlight. District cooling can increase efficiencies and bring forward astonishing energy synergies with gas turbine power generation.
  • Electric Power supply is a growing concern in most cities. Electrified transport solutions mostly become a strain for the electric grid. The smart gas concept is different. Firstly, it provides energy to the grid with very high energy efficiency. Secondly, the energy storage of the buses allows for smart grid controls. The smart charging station can allow the grid to ramp-up or down charging second-by-second to compensate for other loads in the grid.

What is Smart Gas?

  • As a first step biogas is produced from wastes.
  • Delhi, India for example produces, 11,558 tons of wastes that generates about 500 tons of biogas.
  • Wastes from agriculture can just as well be fed to the biogas production plant.
  • As a byproduct from the bio gas production there is an equivalent amount, 500 tons, of bio fertilizer.
  • If it were to be required, natural gas can back up biogas production.
  • The enriched biogas can be used as fuel for a combined cycle power plant to generate both electricity and district cooling with a total efficiency of 87 percent. The electric power generated from 500 tons of biogas at an ambient temperature of 30C is 130 MW and the district cooling power is 120 MW. The ratio between generation of electric power and cooling can be optimized depending on the specific requirements.
  • District cooling can be used for any housing cooling purpose. If applied to apartments it is sufficient to cool 3,50 000 apartments of 100 m2.
  • The 130 MW electricity generated by the biogas can be used to drive 20 000 Volvo electric buses.

Smart Gas Concept

  • That means the Smart Gas electricity can drive four times as many buses or correspondingly longer distances for the same number of buses as compared to a situation where bio gas is directly used to drive buses.
  • An air conditioned electric bus in Delhi will use 1.8 kWh electricity per km while the corresponding gas bus uses 7 kWh CNG per kilometer.
  • Each bus has an energy storage battery of at least 75 kWh.
  • This opens up endless opportunities for smart grids
  • The bus can be connected to the grid over night or be charged at terminals while waiting for passengers
  • The on-board energy buffer and a variable charge power of 0 to 300 kW allows us to charge the bus with suitable power that the grid can provide.

We have demonstrated the undoubted gains of the novel concept of Smart Gas from wastes to smart grids, electric buses and district cooling.

But, how about city smog?

Smart Gas Emissions

Today exhaust gases from buses are let out on in the street level. In the graph to the left we compare emissions of the most modern Euro VI buses with the Smart Gas bus.

If that is not striking enough, we should see the comparison with the existing gas bus fleet in Delhi. The gains are at least fivefold higher!

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Volvo Technology Award 2016

In June 2015 Volvo and the ElectriCity partners introduced electric buses on a new bus route, route 55, in Göteborg (see the blog from the 26th of June). It has become an unusual success with a ridership that beats the plan. In addition more than 4000 international visitors from all over the world have visited route 55 and the ElectriCity partners. Behind the success lies a great deal of innovation and new development.

Today, the 6th of April 2016, at the yearly general assembly of the Volvo Group, the team and coworkers behind the electric bus are awarded for the development efforts and innovation. The developmentwork has been characterized by a close cooperation of widely different parts of the Volvo organization, from traveler and bus operators via research and science, design, mechanics, controls and telematics. And, those are just examples.

Electric Bus TeamThe team was represented by: top row Martin Sanne, Erik Lauri,  Ove Hjortsberg, Andreas Gillström, mid row myself (Edward Jobson), Mats Andersson, Fredrika Berndtsson, Roger Andersson,  sitting Patrik Pettersson, and John Lord. Not in picture Mattias Åsbogård.

Library bus stop at Bananpiren

The clean and silent buses are quilifiers for getting close to the travellers. In the picture is the temporary library at Bananpiren. And, many visitors have appreciated the indoor bus stop at Lindholmen.

The electric buses in Göteborg are charged rapidly by up to 300 kW. It takes roughly 3-4 minutes to charge 10 km drive.

The main building blocks of the innovative development are:

  • An efficient lightweight high-speed electric motor and an in-house developed 2-speed gearbox that realize high power in combination with high efficiency. It is unique to maintain high efficiency of the electric drive in such a broad speed range. This in turn enables a positive helix of efficiency improvements by lower thermal losses, less energy use, and higher passenger capacity.
  • A new control system platform for electric buses including a multi-battery energy management system that allows us to utilize the energy in the most efficient way to the electric drive as well as to auxiliaries, such as steering servo, air compressor and climate system.
  • A new charging system that enable fast opportunity charging of 300 kW. Rapid charging enables buses to use the lay-over time at the terminal end stops for charging. The new charging technology is now introduced as an open platform for the bus industry in Europe.
  • An off-board back-office telematics environment that enables precise control of the properties of the buses meter-by-meter in the city, Zone Management. E.g. by setting different speed limitation outside a school during school hours.

The new electric bus concept enables very high transport efficiency in combination with resource efficiency (optimized amount of batteries) and high passenger capacity (minimized component weight).

The passengers benefit from silent and emission free buses that can take us close to our destinations. The ElectriCity partner, Västtrafik, demonstrates the benefits of an in-door bus stop at one of the terminals stations of route 55. The


7900 Electric in Edinburgh

ElectriCity electric buses (to the right) get around in the world, here at a visit in Scotland, during 2015.The local Volvo 7900 Hybrid bus to the left has contributed to increased ridership at Lothian Buses in Edinburgh.

We are very proud that Volvo has recognized the contributions of our teams and that we already have contributed to a new way of thinking in public transports, where zero emissions and silent buses makes a true difference in everyday life of the travelers in cities.


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ElekBu 2016


I’m sitting at the airport on my way from this year’s electric bus conference, ElekBu 2016, in Berlin. Professor Müller-Hellman was moderating the seminars and the debates and he has been the pro-motor since the start 7 years ago .

This year two secretaries of the state, Rainer Bomba and Jochen Flasbarth honored us with their visits. There is a strong interest for electrical buses in Germany and the federal government is clear on their intention to support the introduction of electric buses in Germany.

For me it was the 5th time, after two years interruption.

We displayed the charging rails in the Volvo stand. They are mounted on the roof top. A screen displayed the facts and function of the opportunity charging concept.


Picture: Opportunity charging rails and display at the Volvo stand in Berlin.


Picture: Volvo Electric Bus, from the Gothenburg ElectriCity project, on display in Berlin.

On my way to the conference I reinvented a diagram I have been using for a while, to explain how opportunity charging supports long operational hours and high daily mileage. The new feature shows how increased average speed has a direct impact on the life time fuel saving.

Cities that are determined to implement electric buses and that have recognized the advantage of opportunity charging refers to the following advantages: high passenger capacity,  long workdays and short nigh stops and distributed power outtake from the grid (geographically and over time).


Picture: Opportunity charging supports long daily mileage and long workdays. The life time fuel saving is enhanced by electrification of the buses with the highest utilization.

Initially, many cities think of electrical buses in the slowest and most congested routes of the city. Those routes are important for their high visibility and for the high impact on local emissions and noise in the city center.

However, as evident from the diagram above there are strong benefits of increasing the speed of the route, when it comes to fuel savings. The electrification is a qualifier for increasing the priority of the buses in the city, to the benefit of the travelers. By introducing separate lanes, signal priority or dedicated tunnels or bridges the speed can be increased and the economy is improved, a lot.

An opportunity charged bus can increases the average speed and grow with the traffic planning ambitions of the public transport authorities.


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Opportunity Charged Electric Buses

opportunity charged electric bus

In today’s blog I have borrowed a lot of the material from my group mates Johan Larsson, Magnus Broback and from our manager, Jessica Sandström.

Volvo Buses has gained experience of charged electric buses, since the introduction of the Sunwin (Joint venture in China with 50% Volvo ownership) Super Cap bus in 2006.

super capacitor

Super capacitor since 2006.
Fast charging at every bus stop for 40 seconds. The system has challenges with high infrastructure cost and low energy storage capacity.

battery electric buses
Battery electric buses since 2010.
Battery swap system:  The system has challenges with: Low battery utilization and  time loss when swapping.
Battery overnight charging: The system has challenges with: Limited range and heavy and expensive batteries.

volvo 7900 hybrid

Volvo 7900 Hybrid was an in-house development and the first automotive application using lithium-ion battery technology. Volvo has more experience in automotive battery and control technology than any other HD automotive manufacturer.
When comparing opportunity charging to overnight charging, then the high utilization of charging infrastructure and the limited battery weight in the opportunity charging concept makes it superior in cost efficiency compared to  overnight charging.

increased speed improves efficiency

Opportunity charging has “unlimited” daily mileage giving high fuel saving.
The opportunity charged buses can be used in slow and rapid bus routes. By increasing the speed of the buses it:
- saves times for travellers
- gives higher passenger transport capacity.
Overnight charging limits the daily range and the passenger capacity.
In dialogue with cities I have found that some bus routes are today limited to less than 200 km and thus potential routes for overnight charging. Still, the ambition of the city is mostly to raise the attractiveness by higher speed and higher capacity. To go for opportunity charging is thus a future safe choice.

energy use

Each bus route has characteristic power consumption and it varies with the climate.
The system design needs to handle different routes and climate. I have been in dialogue with many cities to analyzing each route in the city to determine their specific needs. Again, mostly we find that opportunity charging and the battery buffer used, account for all eventualities.

opportunity charging ideal for solar and wind

Opportunity charging is ideal for electric supply by solar and wind
Many cities have decided to decrease imports of fossil energy and to increase local and sustainable electricity. Opportunity charging makes sense, to utilize the energy when it is most available.

To conclude, all types of electric buses utilize much less energy than diesel or gas alternatives. The longer the daily distance, the stronger the benefit.

Compromises are needed:

Passenger capacity                                 <->                   Battery weight

Driver/bus utilization                            <->                   Charging time

Cost for fast charging stations           <->                   Battery cost
We find that:
– High utilization of charging infrastructure and the limited battery weight in the opportunity charging concept makes it superior in cost efficiency towards overnight charging.
– The opportunity charging concept allows 17% more passengers.
– Overnight charged battery buses are convenient for testing the new technology in small scale, but have strong limitations in the daily range. This restricts it to slow routes, therefore with limited benefits.
-The opportunity charged buses can adapt to long workdays, high passenger capacity and high mileage. Thereby they deliver strong benefits for the city.

In the choice between different types of electric buses this is why so many cities now inves in opportunity charging infrastructure:
– The city wants to incest in a system that is future proof for increased mileage and speed.
– The city wants to secure transport/passenger capacity.
– The city wants to secure a reliable battery system that minimizes the risk of the investment (Volvo Turn Key solution allows cities to pay by the kilometer).
– They want to reach out to all routes, longer and faster transits as well as the down town business district.
– The city wants a local energy source and buses energy use that match the supply by renewable energy.
– The cities have analyzed the bus traffic pattern and found that the bus stops at the same spot every now and then for several minutes and wants to take the opportunity to charge the batteries to prolong the life and extend the distance.

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How much electricity do you need for an electric bus?

Or, did you ever ask you self: what is the fuel consumption of a hybrid bus?
The ElecTrip App has the answer.

The general answer to the initial questions is not satisfactory: “it depends on which route you think of”. The speed and topography are important. So are the stops. A stop directly after a downhill drive is really bad for the fuel consumption while an up-hill stop hardly has any negative impact. We clearly need to measure each route to give the answer.

So my colleague Ulf Gustafsson and I discussed if we could use a smart phone with GPS to analyze any bus route in the world with the objective to calculate the expected CO2 emissions and energy use for different bus technologies. After logging some routes it was not too hard to say yes, it is possible but the GPS signal is very noisy, in particular in altitude, causing random errors and too high energy use for all technologies.

With the help of e.g. colleague Jonas Hellgren at Volvo research division we made the ElecTrip APP for iPhones ®.   The result was so unique that we filed a patent application that is pending. Still we have been able to make it available for the public and it is free.
The APP is pretty self-explanatory but the results may deserve some comments.

The first result display an overview of the logging:
Date: of the logging.
Distance: is the total distance from the start to the end of the route. My recommendation is to logg routes in two directions. Mostly routes are asymmetric and the result will depend on the direction.  Logging in two directions allows a more precise forecast.
Duration: is the time measured from the start to the end of the logging.
Departure address: indicate the postal address closest to the start point of the route.
Arrival address: indicate the postal address closest to the start point of the route.

Electrip app1

Next the calculated results of the logging are presented in a bar graph.
My screen dumps are unfortunately not very easy to read. To clarify the order in which the technologies are presented it’s always the same:

Diesel Bus Euro VI: Standard diesel fuel is assumed.
Gas Bus Euro VI: Compressed fossil CNG is assumed.
Volvo 7900 Hybrid Bus: The energy efficiency is calculated based on the real engine calibration of the Volvo Hybrid bus. For the CO2 emission data standard diesel fuel is assumed although Volvo Engines can use Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils.
Volvo 7900 Electric Hybrid Bus: The energy efficiency is calculated based on the real engine calibration of the Volvo Electric Hybrid bus. We have assumed a distance of 10 km between the charging stations, since many trips are not from terminus to terminus. For the CO2 emission data again standard diesel fuel is assumed although Volvo Engines can use Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils.
Volvo 7900 Electric Bus: The electric bus is assumed to use sustainable and renewable electricity.

Electrip app2

Electrip app3
The bars display the total fuel consumption in diesel liter equivalents, meaning that the data for the gas bus has been converted to the corresponding heat value of diesel to enable comparison. And the Electric Hybrid and the Electric Bus displays the corresponding electricity use.

We have confirmed the results for route speeds from 10 km/h to 30 km/h. Results from faster and slower routes are not reliable.
The blue bars below display the carbon dioxide emissions for the route:

Electrip app4

Electrip app5

Electrip app6

In the first version we:
– don’t compensate for local hot or cold climate. The figures represent yearly average central European climate.
– the speed calculation is not sufficiently precise to differentiate harsh breaking and similar driver behavior induced effects on the emissions
– road quality and friction due to sharp curves is not included
– when logging short routes the error can be rather large
– routes with average speed less than 10 km/h or more than 30 km/h have not been validated experimentally and should be regarded as uncertain data.

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