Electric Buses Are Coming Slowly But Surely
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is great, but most of those buses are still running on plain old diesel. Diesel-electric hybrid buses are starting to become more popular and they're an improvement, but 100% electric buses would be even better. The Solo EV by UK's Optare is a (small) step in that direction. Read on for more details.
Optare Solo EV Electric Bus Specifications
The Solo EV is not a big bus: It is available in lengths of 8.1m, 8.8m and 9.5m and widths of either 2.3m or 2.5m.
"Replacing the usual diesel engine is an all-new electric drive, featuring an Enova Systems P120 AC induction motor rated at 120 kW and powered by two banks of Valence Lithium Ion Phosphate batteries. The two packs work in parallel and provide 307V with a total capacity of 80 kWh. The batteries are housed in two steel crates set either side of the centrally mounted motor for excellent weight distribution."
Vehicle top speed is limited to 90 km/h (56 mph). This seems quite enough for urban use, though there's no technical reason why faster speeds couldn't be possible. It's probably just to avoid draining the batteries too quickly.
The Solo EV has regenerative braking, which helps recharge the battery but also means that brakes need to be changed less often (something important on a bus that does stop & go driving all day).
One problem on the horizon: The batteries take 8 hours to charge. Now this might not be a problem if the range of the Solo EV is long enough to do a full day without needed a recharge, but unfortunately that information hasn't been released yet
The company said that it is looking into adding a third battery to extend the range, so maybe that would be a solution. Or maybe a fast charging station could cut the charging time significantly and the Solo EV could be topped off a few times each day, and then have a full charge at night.
Via Optare, Green Car Congress
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