Geneva electric buses with 'flash charging' systemEnlarge Photo
Long charging times can be a drag for electric vehicles, whether they're private passenger cars or city buses. The Swiss city of Geneva wants to put more electric buses into service, and to do that it recently contracted with local firm ABB to set up a "flash-charging" network that can charge those buses in a hurry.
Each of the 13 flash-charging stations will be capable of charging a bus in just 15 seconds, according to ABB. The stations won't necessarily provide a full charge, just enough to get a bus to its next stop. Buses will get a 600-kilowatt burst of electricity while they pick up passengers, as the stations will be located at bus stops. That's about five times what a Tesla Supercharger station can put out.
The buses will be used on a route that connects Geneva's airport with a new suburb called Praille-Acacias-Vernet, which will include about 11,000 housing units and offices for 11,000 workers. The line is expected to serve more than 10,000 passengers per day. Buses will run every 10 minutes and get a longer, 5.0-minute flash charge at the end of the line.
Electric buses are expected to cut up to 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, but that won't come cheap: the contract is worth more than $16 million. In addition to developing the charging stations, ABB will work with Swiss bus manufacturer HESS to develop electric-powertrain components for the Geneva buses.
Several other world cities have experimented with electric buses, and even Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] CEO Elon Musk is giving them some attention. In his updated Master Plan for Tesla, Musk proposed an autonomous electric bus that could be summoned by riders using smartphones.