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New technologies: non-contact electric buses in Germany

In 2014, the city of Mannheim in south-western Germany will test two electric buses equipped with contactless recharging technology. The vehicles quickly recharge by induction at each stop, without any connection - an answer to the problems of electric vehicles' range.


26 February 2013 - Inspired by new technology that allows smartphone users to recharge their phones without connecting them to a power supply, bus manufactures have been working on a similar technology for recharging electric buses. The manufacturers will put the technology to the test in the German city of Mannheim from next year.


The batteries are charged by induction at ground level, through an electromagnetic field.  Systems are installed under the pavement at bus stops, and the receiving system is housed under the floor of the bus. Charging takes just twenty seconds, the time for passengers to get on or off the bus. Recharging works in all weather conditions, even in the snow.


Vehicles are no longer forced to be out of service during regular long hours for recharging. This concept would also avoid the use of trolleybuses and their overhead power lines often considered unsightly by elected officials and their constituents.


From the second half of 2014, two buses equipped with this technology will circulate on line 63 in Mannheim. The experiment is planned for one year and could be extended if the trial is a success. "We want to test this technology on a busy urban line to demonstrate its suitability for everyday use," said a representative of the Mannheim transport operator.


The Mayor of Mannheim, Christian Specht, hopes this is just a first step. "We are preparing the ground for other lines in Mannheim and the Rhein-Neckar metropolitan region." In northern Germany, the city of Brunswick is also interested and looking to begin its own trials too.


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