German town tests wireless bus charging

In one German town, electric buses won't make special stops to charge up. Instead, the charge will come from the ground up.

Just like electric cars, electric buses will need specialized infrastructure to be successful. But don't expect to see a plug-in charging station at every bus stop.

For electric buses used for public transit, which don't have time to wait for a full charge, wireless shots of energy could be the answer. Bombardier Transportation, the rail arm of the Canadian aerospace and transportation company, will test its wireless electric bus charging technology over the next year in Mannheim, Germany.

Bombardier will install its Primove charging technology along one of the city's bus routes. The charger is buried underneath the road at various bus stops. When one of the two trial e-buses, equipped with Bombardier's Mitrac e-bus powertrain, completely covers the charger the bus begins charging, wirelessly, using inductive energy transfer, as passengers exit and board the bus.

Besides the obvious benefit of not adding pollution to the urban environment, the e-bus reduces noise pollution. And with wireless charging, the idea is that cities that want to use e-buses won't need to increase their fleet so there are enough buses while they charge because buses will charge while they're operating. In addition to trying out the technology along a real-world bus route, the test will gauge the public's perception of the technology.

“We want to find out how people perceive and rate the advantages of electric buses and the new wireless charging system. By doing so, we are paving the way to introduce CO2-free and low-noise e-mobility to other routes in Mannheim and the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region,” said Mannheim Mayor Christian Specht in a press release.

Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transport will spend $4.3 million on the pilot project.

Photo: Bombardier

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