Volvo 7900e Electric Bus on Trial in Manchester

Volvo 7900e Electric Bus on Trial in Manchester
The Volvo 7900 Electric single deck bus at Manchester Shudehill Interchange.Tom Harrison

The Volvo 7900e full electric single deck bus has made its first stop in Manchester as part of an eight-week trial in the city as part of a UK demonstration programme with bus operators.

Following an impressive launch in July 2017 at a special ride and drive event at Donington Park in Derbyshire, the Volvo 7900e full electric single deck bus has now started its demonstration programme with UK bus companies.

In an eight-week trial, the Volvo 7900e single deck bus – which is charged by a pantograph – will operate daily on the free Metroshuttle service 2. This service, combined with two other routes, form part of a partnership between TfGM, Manchester City Council, National Car Parks and property developer Allied London.

The trial will monitor, amongst other things, vehicle charge time and range, energy consumption, reliability including the charging infrastructure as well as customer experience.

The Volvo 7900e electric bus is already successfully operating in countries such as Sweden, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg. It has been confirmed that the Volvo 7900e will be making its operational debut during 2018 with Transdev Blazefield when eight vehicles will be entering service in Harrogate.

The arrival of the first right-hand-drive 7900e full electric single deck bus in the UK highlights the further development of Volvo’s Electromobility range, providing increased choice for bus companies throughout the UK who are looking at vehicles with green credentials.

The Electromobility vehicles are part of Volvo’s global strategy to provide cleaner, quieter and more energy efficient public transport in towns and cities throughout the world.

The Volvo 7900e’s motor delivers 160kW of power and 400Nm torque, coupled up to Volvo’s own 2-speed automatic transmission. In terms of battery capacity, the bus is fitted with four high capacity 19 kWh Lithium-Ion batteries, which is water cooled using an active electronic system. Battery energy capacity is optimised according to conditions and energy requirements.

Our vision for the immediate future is for towns and cities to have the option to provide a blend of vehicles – hybrids, electric hybrids and full electric, which together, will help create the city environments of the future. — Nick Page, Volvo Bus

Nick Page, Managing Director of Volvo Bus, 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 in the city, we are confident the 7900e and accompanying technologies can go a long way to helping them achieve their goals.

“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.”

The launch came as Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham launched a new ‘congestion conversation’ exercise to source proposals to tackle congestion and air pollution in the city. It is estimated congestion costs the Greater Manchester economy £1.3bn per year, through issues such as lost productivity and late deliveries, the Mayor’s Office said.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, 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.”

The Volvo 7900e is charged via the OppCharge pantograph system developed by Volvo, Siemens and ABB, which can take place either on the service route or at a terminus. Apparatus is attached to the roof of the bus that allows it to charge through an overhead charging station that provides power to the battery like a tram. The system is expected to allow the bus to recharge more easily throughout the day.

The system can be specified with both 150kW and 300kW charging capability. All moving parts are built into the pantograph reducing weight and complexity on the vehicle, communication between the bus and the charging station takes place via WiFi. The connector rails are roof-mounted and are weather-proof in conditions from -25°C to +45°C.

Opportunity charging allows the bus to have smaller and lighter battery which keeps the unladen weight of the vehicle to a minimum. Recharging takes between three and six minutes. Interestingly, the OppCharge interface is also compatible with other brands and models of electric buses ensuring the charging infrastructure is future proof.

People can get involved in the ‘congestion conversation’ by visiting tfgm.com/congestion. Views are being sought for six weeks until Friday 3rd November and Andy Burnham, along with the 10 Greater Manchester local authorities, is expected to publish a plan to address the region’s congestion issues in January 2018.

Tom Harrison
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