An electric bus pilot project can be easy!
‘It’s huge, complicated, and expensive’ is many people’s first thought about electric bus pilot projects. Electric bus requirements in public transportation vary greatly between cities and countries. In Finland, most cities do not require bus operators to use electric buses – not yet. However, it’s just a matter of time until tenders from cities specify the use of electric buses on some routes. This is why Finland’s biggest bus company, Koiviston Auto Group, decided to foreshadow such requirements and carry out an electric bus pilot project with VDL Bus & Coach and Kempower.
“We wanted to gain experience and test the buses and chargers ourselves, before it becomes a requirement,” says Michael Andersson, Technical Director of Koiviston Auto Group.
“In public transportation, the reliability of the bus fleet is the basis of everything. This was also the number one criterion for Koiviston Auto Group, when we decided to pilot electric buses and started our search for reliable electric buses and chargers,” Andersson continues.
Pilot project with a cost-efficient charging infrastructure
“Since this is a pilot, it was also very important to find a charging solution that does not require heavy infrastructure,” Andersson explains. “We searched for a reliable and cost-efficient solution that would fit our existing environment and bus depots.”
Koiviston Auto Group’s electric bus pilot project has just started, with one electric bus in operation. The charging system consists of a main power unit with two satellite charging poles. These are installed in an existing diesel bus depot where there is sufficient space for two electric buses. One charging pole will be installed outdoors, to enable easy charging outside the depot hall.
“This charging infrastructure was built for testing our electric bus fleet. This is an excellent way to find out, using existing bus routes, what electric buses really require and what challenges there are, for example in bus route and schedule planning,” Andersson says of the pilot project.
“In this way we are ready to meet the eMobility needs set by the cities, and we will be able to provide credible and tested answers for cities’ public transport organizations,” he says.
The trolley-type and easily movable Kempower T-Series enables fast charging, anywhere with a 63A power socket. In practice, all bus depots and commercial real estate already have 63A power sockets. So one could say that with the Kempower T-Series trolley charger, the charging infrastructure in a way already exists in most places where buses are usually found.