In a suburb outside of Stockholm, bus stops are more than just places to pick up and drop off passengers. They’re also chargers. A new pilot program along a bus route in Södertälje is testing electric buses that can charge up at every stop, as recently highlighted by Co.Exist.
The electric hybrid buses charge automatically when they pull up to the bus stop, where a charging station is buried under the asphalt. It takes seven minutes to charge the bus battery enough for the full 6.2-mile route.
Right now, the Södertälje buses charge overnight and then at the final stop on the route. Sensors direct the bus drivers to park over the right section of the road. A charging box is lowered from under the bus to access the wireless charger.
It’s a collaboration between the Royal Institute of Technology KTH, the city of Södertälje, and Sweden’s national power company, Vattenfall, as well as the bus manufacturer Scania. This is partially a test to see how the system fares in northern climates, and Scania is still working out the best way to implement it, including where the charging stations should be placed along the route.
Seven minutes is a long time for a bus to sit at one stop in the middle of the route, and though this bus route is relatively short, another route probably wouldn’t be able to support a bus running on just one charge. For full-city usage, there would have to be more chargers throughout the route, which could lead to bus bunching as drivers wait for their vehicles to charge. Another solution might be to put chargers under the entirety of the road. The UK has already begun testing an under-road charging system it plans to one day install under the nation’s highways.