Situated on the southern shore of Lake Vättern – Sweden’s second largest lake – and surrounded by woodland, Jönköping is a relatively small city (population around 140,000) that does not over-impose itself on its picturesque natural setting. But as the regional hub continues to expand, maintaining this balance is becoming a challenge.
If we do not fulfill our promise, it’s on us to replace batteries or find a solution.
“Jönköping is growing very fast and the municipality has big plans for densifying houses and flats,” says Charles Tholin, Business Developer, Jönköpings Länstrafik (JLT). “We therefore need to invest in public transport and encourage more people to use it instead of their cars. As Jönköping grows, we must also consider noise and congestion, and reduce our carbon emissions to provide sustainable public transport.”
JLT is responsible for public transport across the whole region, including Jönköping’s city buses, as well as regional train and bus services to other towns in the Jönköping County. Every day, they transport around 80,000 people across a network of 4,200 stops and stations. JLT has a strong sustainability focus throughout its operations. In recent years, it has been investing in alternative fuels and new technologies. In July 2021, 50 high-capacity Volvo 7900 Electric Articulated buses began operating along the city’s four distinct colour-coded BRT (bus rapid transit) lines.
Volvo Buses' pilot episode of 'Zero City Explorers' takes a closer look at Jönköping's innovative urban mobility solution.
“It is the first time we put so many electric buses into traffic and it is exciting for us to be a part of this transition,” says Andreas Ehrenborg, Director of Logistics at Vy Buss, the operator. “Winning the tender was a mixture of trepidation and delight. When you first enter an agreement like this, you never know exactly how it will end up or if you have prepared enough. But it has gone very well.”
The investment also includes 11 new charging stations located across the city, which have been constructed by the Jönköping County and local energy provider Jönköping Energi.
During the procurement process, Vy Buss sought support from Volvo Buses, with whom it has a long-standing partnership. One of the first steps was to undertake a detailed analysis of JLT’s routes and requirements, to help determine the optimal battery capacity and locations for charging stations.
Another key concern when working with new technologies is reliability. “We offer what we call a ‘usable energy commitment’ which means that we guarantee a fixed number of kilowatt hours during a certain period based on their route analysis,” says Jonas Pettersson, Volvo Buses. “This gives them a sense of security and confidence that they will be able to operate their routes. If we do not fulfill our promise, it’s on us to replace batteries or find a solution.”
These buses need to operate for at least the next ten years, so it’s not enough to just look at the first year.
For Vy Buss, this commitment made a huge difference to its final proposal to JLT. “If Volvo only offered say a two-year warranty on the batteries, we might have chosen a different solution with more battery charging points or more vehicles, which would have been more expensive, and then maybe we would not have won the tender,” says Andreas Ehrenborg.
“These buses need to operate for at least the next ten years, so it’s not enough to just look at the first year. You need to have confidence in your suppliers, and we definitely have that with Volvo Buses.”
JLT is the public transport authority for Jönköping County, which in addition to the city of Jönköping includes 13 other municipalities. Its services include city buses, regional buses and regional train services. It is estimated that around 80,000 people use its services each day.
Vy Buss operates bus services on behalf of local public transport authorities throughout Sweden, as well express services such as airport buses. An estimated 35 million trips are taken on its buses every year. Vy Buss is owned by the Vy Group, one of the largest transport groups in the Nordics.