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French city invests in revolutionary charging technology for electric buses

The French city of Nantes has announced that it has invested in revolutionary charging technology for its fleet of electric buses which will be deployed in the forthcoming months. The innovative new public transportation service will be operated by the city's public transport operator.

Swiss bus manufacturer HESS which developed the fully-electric 24-metre buses has chosen ABB's flash-charging technology for the e-buses and other related infrastructure. ABB claims it is the fastest flash-charging connection technology in the world. It has been reported that the order is worth around $20m.

Batteries will be placed on the roofs of the buses, and will be charged in 60 seconds at selected stops when passengers disembark from the electric buses. In addition to this, it has been disclosed that it takes less than one second to connect the bus to the charging point, and a further 1-5 minutes charge at the terminus at the end of the line which subsequently enables a full recharge of the batteries.

ABB's flash-charging technology is coupled with its onboard traction capabilities which makes the flash-charging possible, as part of its innovative TOSA (Trolleybus Optimization System Alimentation) solution. The electric fleet will be deployed on the Busway Bus Rapid Transit (Line 4) route connecting the historic center of Nantes with municipalities on the southern side of the River Loire.

The new electric bus system will increase passenger capacity in Nantes by 35%, which ultimately will facilitate sustainable transport for around 2,500 commuters every hour. The route was first introduced in 2006, but while passenger numbers increased, it subsequently led to overcrowding on buses.

However, with the introduction of the new electric buses from HESS, this service will increase passenger capacity, whilst also making it an emission-free public transport service which also reduces noise. It is expected the buses will be commercially deployed at the end of 2018.

President of ABB'S Power Grids Division, Claudio Facchin, described the new electric bus fleet and flash-charging technology as ‘revolutionary' - claiming it would transform the city's public transportation sector, and said it reiterated the company's commitment to customer service and improving the environment.

He said, "This revolutionary technology requires no overhead lines and provides silent, zero-emission mass transit as a viable alternative to fossil fuel powered buses, offering a model for future urban transportation. The project exemplifies our commitment to deliver customer value through technology and innovation, and reinforces our position as a partner of choice for enabling a stronger, smarter and greener grid, in line with our Next Level strategy."

Each of the new e-buses can carry a total 151 passengers and will be equipped with energy-efficient ABB drivetrain technology, comprising traction and auxiliary converters, permanent magnet traction motors, roof-mounted battery units and energy transfer systems.