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Solutions for TCO optimized electrification of city bus systems

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ELINKKER (Solutions for TCO optimized electrification of city bus systems)

Reporting period: 2014-10-01 to 2015-03-31

Abstract of report

More and more cities want to offer sustainable public transportation in cities. One very promising solution is battery electric buses or eBuses. eBuses is a completely new technology for city bus traffic, requiring new knowledge to be developed, requiring certain risk taking in implementing new technology and requiring modifications to operating models to allow for charging.

What eBuses offer is emission free operation, a great passenger experience, a platform for further development of public transport and if implemented correctly it can offer lower life cycle cost than diesel buses today.

To support cities in implementation of eBus operated public transport several aspects have been investigated in eLinkker feasibility study such as cost drivers, total cost of owner ship, implementation models, tools and knowledge support. All this has to be validated with stakeholders like cities, operators, energy companies, consulting partners and research community.

Feasibility study gives insight and a excellent platform for accelerating transition towards eBus operated sustainable public transport in cities.
Exploring customer needs

Linkker has collected data covering more than 100 potential customers - cities, public transport authorities, public transport operators and partners. Focus countries have been Finland, Nordic countries, Baltics, Netherlands and Germany. We have looked at political and strategic decision making, vision and targets, capabilities, budgets and track record.

Based on the data gathered we have segmented markets to better understand their needs, decision making and identify opportunities to accelerate transition towards eBuses. There are many cities with interest in transition towards eBuses, but only a few cities that really follow a strategic approach. There are also great differences in how projects are organized and financed.

Those cities that have a strategic approach are much further in setting targets, planning, gathering knowledge and organizing local partner networks for project realization. Number of cities in this category are relatively low. They are pioneers in adopting eBus technology.


In general all cities in the beginning ask the same questions, are eBuses feasible, what are changes to operating models, especially time tables, what investments are needed and what are the overall financial implications.


Operators

Another market segment is operators. In some countries cities to large extent influence what type of buses are used via tendering criteria. This is the case in Nordic countries. In some countries concessions are mainly granted on cost bases and operators have great freedom to choose type of buses for their operation. This is the case for example in Netherlands.

Depending on the setting, operators can be key stakeholders from very early on in the project. In any case operator backing is essential for tendering and roll-out. We have gained a better understanding of markets, key similarities and differences of different markets and have gained extremely valuable inputs for further development of Linkker innovations and marketing strategy.

Key take away is that although different markets share similar technical challenges concerning transition to electrified bus lines, each market works differently, has different way of making decisions, organizing public transport and requirements that have to be accounted for in our R&D and marketing.

As an example the roles of public transport authorities and public transport operators are very different in Nordics compared to Netherlands and Germany.

Some of the customers are already quite far in their planning and others are starting, but with ambitious targets. Most of them will adopt opportunity charging, but have not decided on charging system nor buses. Some of them are also looking at hybrid Trolley & eBus systems (Trolley 2.0) to extend existing trolley networks or in some cases Trolley network is seen as more suitable charging solution for eBuses. This could be a further technical development opportunity.


Developing collaboration models

Electrification of city bus systems is complex process, which requires tight co-operation between several important stakeholders to make right decisions on technology, infrastructure, operation, tendering, city planning etc. On the other hand electrification of city bus systems show huge business potential in reducing costs related to fuel consumption, reducing local emissions and building a sustainable and attractive transportation system.

Successful transition to battery electric buses requires knowledge, planning, engineering and collaboration. Typical steps in transition plan are strategic decision, system validation, system optimization and roll-out. To support cities in transition Linkker did as part of this feasibility study develop a standard implementation model for transition towards electrified bus lines. we call this model innovation line.

Objective of innovation lone concept is to provide a implementation model to cities for implementing eBuses - to provide planning framework for project, model for optimizing cost, provide a good base for transition to production and to minimize risks. Cities cannot handle eBus implementation projects on their own for resource and cost reasons. It also does not make sense that each city makes the same learning.

One key point of innovation line is optimize configuration of system. Linkker combination of lightweight chassis, energy efficient driveline and fast charging provides industry lowest consumption per km. The very low consumption of Linkker buses minimizes both battery size and reduces need for charging. Further improvement is by adopting opportunity charging and by investing in battery chemistry that supports high number of cycles, Lithium Titanate Oxide (LTO).

Another step is minimizing charging time. Interrupted operation or short operational time requires investments in additional buses. Linkker buses are designed for continuous operation with minimized charging time. This is achieved because LinkDrive and LinkLight combines energy efficiency, optimized battery and fast charging. This combination provides continuous operation with minimum charging time also in very demanding drive cycles and heavy use of climate control.

Third aspect is operational validation by electrification of first bus lines. This phase provides operational data for technical, operational and economical validation and also for further optimization.

Finally we have overhaul. Since eBuses are easier to overhaul it would make sense to extend economical and technical life cycle of eBuses with a major overhaul after 10 years operation. We estimate overhauls to be very cost efficient and that there would be a string demand for overhauled eBuses. The complete drive line with exception of battery should have a long technical life time and in case of overhaul is quite easy to exchange.

all of these questions are addressed in the first innovation line implementation project in Helsinki. Other cities considering implementation of eBus operation ask very similar questions that Helsinki asked some years ago. Helsinki ePELI project is therefore an excellent learning platform for other cities as well. The chosen implementation model in Helsinki is innovation line.

Key take away from this feasibility study is to develop Innovation Line concept further, offer other cities the opportunity to share experience for ePELI project by further developing the knowledge base and networking.

A partner network has already now shown to be very useful in supporting cities at different stages of transition. Secondly by combining knowledge of many partners we can provide a more comprehensive support to cities, since there are no organizations today that can handle all aspects of transition on their own.

eBuses are currently in very early phase of development and deployment, we could say pre-industrial phase. At this stage the risks for deploying new technology are the highest.

The challenge is that this has never been verified in larger deployments. Even if larger scale deployment would be possible there is still the question of risk handling. There are three types of risk scenarios we have identified:

- risk of new technology in longer concessions
- risk in implementing new operational concept to allow charging during operation
- and as a consequence risk of TCO for complete system

We have during feasibility study tried to understand the risks and develop ways to address these.

Since Innovation line concept is the model now for ePELI project in Helsinki and since many cities and operators have joined it we see this as proof of concept for the model. There will also be an international development aspect included to ePELI and it will be open for cities abroad to join. Production scale transition is the goal for HSL:s ePELI project and Linkker is key supplier of eBuses to that project.

There is a huge emerging market for eBuses but all activities are still at pre-industrial stage. Customers lack knowledge and risk taking capabilities to effectively do the transition to eBus operated public transport. A comprehensive approach to electrification of bus lines is needed and Linkker is developing that to support cities in accelerated transition towards eBuses.
We have gained a better understanding of markets, key similarities and differences of different markets and have gained extremely valuable inputs for further development of Linkkers innovations and marketing strategy.

Key take away is that although different markets share similar technical challenges each market works differently, has different way of making decisions, organizing public transport and requirements that have to be accounted for in our R&D and marketing.

As an example the roles of public transport authorities and public transport operators are very different in Nordics compared to Netherlands and Germany. Key take away is to understand how different markets are organized and based on that understand how transition can be advanced.

Cities considering implementation of eBus operation ask very similar questions that Helsinki asked some years ago. Helsinki ePELI project is therefore an excellent learning platform for other cities as well.

Key take away is to develop Innovation Line concept further, offer other cities the opportunity to share experience for ePELI project by further developing the knowledge base and networking. Innovation line concept should also include complete life cycle management of eBuses including overhauls for extension of eBus operational life time.

Cities cannot handle eBus implementation projects on their own for resource and cost reasons. It also does not make sense that each city makes the same learning.

A partner network has already now shown to be very useful in supporting cities at different stages of transition. Secondly by combining knowledge of many partners we can provide a more comprehensive support to cities, since there are no organizations today that can handle all aspects of transition on their own.

Good partner network also improves our capabilities to speed up marketing and develop solutions for adjacent markets, for example Trolley 2.0 and leasing of eBuses and eBus systems.

Feasibility has been established with ePELI project, additional cities joining ePELI, by signing a LOI for high number of buses with an international operator and by the extension possibilities of ePELI to cities and partners abroad and by establishment of partner network to offer complete eBus solutions in Germany and Netherlands.

A further way of reducing cost of transition is to improve knowledge sharing between different actors and projects. Knowledge base, good documentation, networking and sharing best practices will reduce costs of implementation for cities dramatically. This can be achieved by innovation line implementation model, partner network, tools and knowledge management.

This aspect needs to be developed further by enlarging partner network, creating further references, network eBus implementation projects and support exchange of best practice in seminars and events.