Battery-electric buses are operating on a trial basis in dozens of cities around the world, but some planners are still concerned about the constraints common to all pure EVs: short driving ranges and long charging times. Electronics giant ABB has introduced an automated fast charging system that aims to relegate these problems to the past.
ABB’s fast charging system uses an automated rooftop connection to charge a typical e-bus in 4–6 minutes, and is designed to be easily integrated in existing bus lines by installing fast chargers at terminals, depots and/or intermediate stops. The aim is to enable electric city buses to operate 24/7.
The system is based on the IEC 61851-23 charging standard, and features a modular design offering 150 kW, 300 kW or 450 kW of charging power.
It uses a pantograph, a retractable connecter that’s a familiar sight on trains and trams. However, ABB’s pantograph is mounted in inverted position on a pole. When a bus arrives at the charging stop, a wireless signal tells the pantograph to come down and make contact with the rooftop interface, which can be installed on any electric bus.
The rooftop module consists of 4 simple contact bars that weigh around 10 kg. This allows e-buses manufacturers to keep the vehicle weight low.
The system includes connectivity features such as remote diagnostics and over-the-air software upgradeability.