Volvo Bus has won its second UK order for opportunity-charged 7900e battery electric single-deckers, with a contract to supply six to Birmingham Airport for landside services.
With the buses set to go into service in November, 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 is helping lead 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 the products of several vehicle manufacturers before deciding to go with Volvo Bus. Key to the decision was the technical and service support being readily available and on a local level. All of the new skills support and infrastructure are accessible via the Volvo dealership network.
The requirement for 24/7 operation means that each of the 7900e buses will be recharged en route using the OppCharge opportunity charging pantograph system developed by Volvo and ABB. Charging takes up to 6min 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 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.
The 7900e has been involved in a series of trials at locations around the UK, including Greater Manchester, Cardiff, Liverpool and Heathrow Airport. Eight buses of the same specification have recently entered full service with The Harrogate Bus Company, all using the same OppCharge pantograph technology
The buses will operate on all car park routes including the 7.5km route which operates out to the car park at Elmdon.
Nick Barton, chief executive officer at Birmingham Airport, says: “This partnership is a key milestone for us. We are always investigating new and innovative ways to reduce our carbon emissions and through the partnership with Volvo Bus UK, we can do just this.
“We have made significant customer service improvements across the airport to increase capacity and improve passenger experience, with the vision of positioning Birmingham as Europe’s leading airport. The electric buses form part of this vision, not to mention their sustainability benefits being ultra-low emission.
“Since 2012 the airport has reduced its CO2 by 20% per passenger. Implementing the six electric buses will work towards lowering our CO2 per passenger even further which is just fantastic.”
Nick Page, managing director of Volvo Bus UK & Ireland, says: “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 past 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 some time 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 50kWh nickel manganese cobalt batteries and offers zero tailpipe emissions.