Kent County Council has secured a seven-week electric bus trial for the county, only the second local authority to do so in the UK.
Working with Volvo and ABB, a Swedish-Swiss engineering group, the electric bus produces no emissions and is driven by electric motors.
It will operate as an additional hourly service – running on the Fastrack A route between Greenhithe, Bluewater and Dartford from March 21 to May 9.
The majority of Ebbsfleet Garden City residents will live within a five minute walk of a Fastrack bus stop in the future, allowing them easy access around the Garden City and to Ebbsfleet International and Bluewater.
During the trial, the electric bus will recharge outside Greenhithe train station in under six minutes using Innovative OppCharge pantograph high-power charging technology.
The OppCharge makes the range of the bus limitless by allowing the bus to charge at convenient locations along the line of route – in fact, a bus can charge within 30 seconds.
The vehicle uses an electric driveline featuring an energy storage system used to power and electric motor drive system.
The trial was launched by the Leader of Kent County Council Paul Carter on Tuesday (March 20).
“The trial will last for seven weeks as part of Volvo and ABB’s one-year demonstration programme which will see the vehicle and infrastructure operate around the country with the majority of costs being covered by both Volvo Bus and their technical partner ABB.
“The aim of the trial is to try this new innovative electric vehicle technology for ourselves and to show that electric buses with limitless range can work for the county.
“It has great benefits for improving air quality and reducing CO2 emissions which are important to all of us and will allow us to provide evidence that electric vehicles can provide both financial and environmental benefits for the council in the longer term
“If this proves a success it will allow us to build a case to roll out similar schemes across the county.”
The bus, a Volvo 7900e, provides up to 80% lower energy consumption than an equivalent diesel bus.
Nick Page, Managing Director of Volvo Bus added: “It has been exciting watching the full electric Volvo 7900e continue on its journey of demonstrations across the UK.
“The 7900e, which is part of the Volvo Electromobility range, has been making great strides throughout Europe with successful operations in Sweden, Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg.
“Increasingly vehicles and technologies are creating a new era in passenger transport which offers a choice to customers and a variety of options to operators.”
The first permanent use of the Opp Charging technology in the UK will be in Harrogate expected to go live in May 2018.
Director of Property Management for Prologis UK Steve Haddock said “Prologis UK has been providing funding for the Fastrack A service for over a decade and this is a vital service for the residents and businesses located on our development at The Bridge.
“Sustainability is a core part of our business philosophy and we are pleased to support this trial to provide clean, green, public transport.”
Frank Muehlon, Head of ABB’s global business for EV Charging Infrastructure added: “As the global leader in EV fast charging solutions we are proud to be partnering with Volvo and Kent County Council on delivering the third phase of the UK’s first ever fast charging bus installation.
“The usage and feedback from the first two phases of the pilot have been very encouraging and we are delighted to be able to now bring this sustainable urban mobility solution to Kent.
“We are confident that this trial will continue to demonstrate the huge improvement which electric buses can make on the environmental impact of public transport, with this bus delivering up to 80 percent lower energy consumption than its regular diesel equivalent.
“We look forward to working closely with the bus industry and others to bring this exciting technology to all parts of the UK.”
Christine Gayle, General Manager, Arriva Northfleet, said: “Arriva are both pleased and excited to be taking part in this trial in partnership with KCC, Volvo, Prologis, ABB and other stakeholders.
“Given that buses are seen as the solution to reducing congestion and poor air quality a bus that is powered by electricity will produce Zero emissions at the point of delivery and is seen as a good alternative to natural gases or diesel.
“Arriva fully support this trial and the prospects of providing cleaner transportation, with substantial benefits to the environment.”
Key stakeholders include Kent County Council, Volvo and ABB infrastructure charging partners, Arriva is the bus operator for the Fastrack A route, Prologis who manage the Fastrack A contract,
Other stakeholders involved include Dartford Borough Council, Southeastern, Ebbsfleet Development Corporation and Bluewater.