With the buses set to go into service in October 2019, the initiative is part of a framework agreement and is the result of a review undertaken by Birmingham Airport into its future vehicle provision. This has led to plans to provide a truly ‘green’ transport system, while at the same time making savings on energy and life cycle costs.
Birmingham Airport looked at a number of vehicle manufacturers before deciding to go with Volvo Bus. Key to the decision was the technical and service support of the highest standard being readily available and on a local level. All of the new skills support and infrastructure are accessible via the Volvo dealership network.
Due to the requirement for 24/7 operation, each of the Volvo 7900e buses will be recharged en route using the opportunity charging pantograph system. Charging will take two to six minutes to complete, giving flexibility and enabling continuous operation without having to spend time in the depot being ‘topped up’ with power. Initially two pantographs will be installed outside of the airport terminal with plans to install further pantographs around the bus route if the services are expanded. In addition, ‘plug in’ charging points will also be available in the Airport’s coach park.
In the future, these charging points will be made available to other bus operators who adopt electric vehicles.
Since September 2017, the 7900e has been involved in a series of trials at locations around the UK, including Greater Manchester, Cardiff, Liverpool and Heathrow Airport. A fleet of eight buses of the same specification have recently entered full service in Harrogate, all using the same pantograph technology
The buses operate on all car park routes including the 7.5km route which operates out to the car park at Elmdon.
Andrew Duggins, Technical Services Director at Birmingham Airport, said: “This partnership is a key milestone for us. We have made significant customer service improvements across the Airport which will continue into 2019 with the aim of, not only increasing capacity and improving passenger experience, but to also support with positioning Birmingham as Europe’s leading regional airport. These electric buses form part of this vision, not to mention their sustainability benefits being completely emissions free.
“Volvo Bus and ABB met our requirements ensuring the charging products were cost effective while also being low emission. As part of the Airport’s Carbon Management Plan we are always investigating new and innovative ways to reduce our carbon emissions, so in working with Volvo Bus and ABB we will implement these ultra low emission buses that will work towards lowering our CO2 per passenger. By constantly looking at ways to reduce and directly influence our emissions since 2012 the Airport has reduced its CO2 per passenger from 2.18kg to 1.75kg per passenger.”
Nick Page, Managing Director of Volvo Bus UK & Ireland, said: “It is very exciting that the 7900e has been chosen for Birmingham Airport in support of its ambition to provide the best possible environmentally friendly bus service for airport customers and stakeholders alike.
“Over the last 15 months the 7900e has undertaken a UK wide demonstration tour where it has shown the contribution that can now be made to improving air quality in the areas where it has been in service. We are confident the 7900e and accompanying technologies will help Birmingham Airport to achieve its goals.
“The 7900e is part of the Volvo Electromobility range and in addition to the UK trials, has been successfully tried and tested in countries including Sweden, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg. Additionally, more than 150 7900e buses have been sold with many already in service throughout Europe. While it has already been adopted for use in a town service scenario in Harrogate, this project shows its versatility of operation in meeting the needs of one of the UK’s busiest airports.
“We have for sometime now held a strong vision at Volvo Bus of developing a blend of vehicles for use across the UK which include hybrids, electric hybrids and full electric vehicles. Together they will significantly contribute to improving the environment for those who live, work and visit these places.”
First introduced in mainland Europe in 2015, the Volvo 7900e provides up to 80% lower energy consumption than an equivalent sized diesel bus. It is a two-axle bus with electric motor and four high capacity 200 kWh Lithium-ion batteries and offers zero tailpipe emissions.
Frank Muehlon, Head of ABB’s global business for EV Charging Infrastructure commented: “As a global leader in EV charging solutions, we are proud to be partnering with Volvo and Birmingham Airport to bring sustainable transport to this busy UK hub.
“This project marks a significant step in an ongoing partnership between ABB and Volvo, which has seen our companies work side by side since 2014 on co-developing electric bus solutions for improved urban mobility.
“We are delighted to be involved in delivering such a landmark transport solution for the Midlands and look forward to welcoming passengers to experience the benefits of e-mobility when the service launches next year.”
ABB chargers are part of the ABB AbilityTM portfolio of digital solutions where cloud connectivity allows for remote diagnosis and management, ensuring reliable and efficient infrastructure for bus passengers.
As the world leader in electric vehicle infrastructure, ABB offers the full range of charging solutions for electric cars, electric and hybrid buses as well as electrification solutions for ships and railways. ABB entered the EV-charging market back in 2010, and today has a fast-growing global installed base of approximately 8,500 ABB DC chargers, including 1,200 DC high power chargers up to 350 kW, sold in 69 countries, more chargers than any other manufacturer.
Fortune Magazine recently ranked ABB #8 on its list of companies that are “changing the world” for the advances it has made in e-mobility and electric vehicle charging.