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Stockholm’s new buses are powered by wireless charging

While you wait at a bus stop, your ride might be charging up for the rest of the route

Scandinavia's first hybrid electric bus
It takes seven minutes to recharge the batteries of Scandinavia's first hybrid electric bus with wireless charging, which now operates in Stockholm.
Scania: Creative Commons

A new Swedish bus system being tested in the city of Stockholm can wirelessly recharge in just seven minutes, offering a model for more efficient electrical vehicle technology for the masses.

The 755 line in Södertälje now includes a wireless inductive charging system that can replenish the power supply on the Scania-made hybrid buses that run the route every day. While the experimental vehicles still need to be charged overnight, the wireless technology improves efficiency and, by removing moving parts, can cut maintenance costs in the long run.

“The most important question for me is how you’re going to make this technology a reality for the city and help make it fossil fuel free?” says Maria Xylia, a doctoral candidate at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology who is working with the municipality and local utility to test the new system.

A rendering of a wireless bus charging station
A rendering of a wireless bus charging station
Scania: Creative Commons

Stockholm has made impressive strides in switching to a greener transportation system. The city already achieved its 90% fossil-free fuels goal for public buses last year, five years ahead of schedule, and the nation wants to be carbon-neutral by 2050. This technology will help make it even easier to move away from fossil fuels, since more convenient electrical charging gives the city and transportation authority more flexibility in power generation (as opposed to relying on biofuels). Xylia has studied city transport routes and created a map with the most efficient locations for charging stations; according to her research, proper planning and placement could cut energy consumption in half.

Another big benefit, according to Xylia, is the relative lack of new infrastructure needed to set up such a system. This 8 kilometer-long (4.9 miles) route has a single charging station, as opposed to the tracks and overhead wires that come with light rail or trolleys, so there’s less construction and disruption when setting up a new route. Xylia expects that the system will save money over time due to reduced maintenance costs.

Maria Xylia’s proposed map of wireless charging stations around Stockholm
Maria Xylia’s proposed map of wireless charging stations around Stockholm