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Wirelessly charged electric buses in Milton Keynes


Electric bus Milton Keynes

Wirelessly charged all-electric buses are to be introduced in Milton Keynes.

The new buses will be able to recharge their batteries wirelessly through the day, which means that for the first time, electric buses will be capable of the equivalent load of a diesel bus.

Today, eight organisations led by a subsidiary of Mitsui & Co Europe (“Mitsui”) signed a five-year collaboration agreement committing to the replacement of diesel buses with their all-electric counterparts on one of the main bus routes in the city by summer 2013.

The number 7 route in Milton Keynes will replace its diesel buses with eight electric buses that will run seven days a week; removing approximately 500 tonnes of tailpipe CO 2 emissions per year as well as 45 tonnes of other noxious tailpipe emissions. The route currently transports over 775,000 passengers a year over a total of 450,000 miles.

The trial is a partnership between:

• Mitsui subsidiary eFleet Integrated Service Ltd

• Milton Keynes Council

• Bus operator Arriva

• Manufacturer Wrightbus Limited

• Technology supplier Conductix-Wampfler

• Western Power Distribution

• Chargemaster Plc


The trial was planned and will be managed by Mitsui-Arup joint venture MBK Arup Sustainable Projects (MASP). Mitsui and MASP’s ultimate aim is use the data collected by the Milton Keynes trial to demonstrate the economic viability of low-carbon public transport. This data could be used to kick-start electric bus projects in other towns and cities worldwide.

John Miles, who initiated the trial from Arup, says: “What makes the Milton Keynes project different to other electric bus schemes is the wireless charging system. The Milton Keynes buses will be able to cover a heavily-used urban route because they are able to charge for 10 minutes at the beginning and end of each cycle without interrupting the timetable. This means that for the first time, an electric bus will effectively be able to do everything a diesel bus can do, which is a significant step forwards to a cleaner, quieter, public transport system.”

Noriaki Sakamoto, Managing Director, Mitsui & Co. Europe Plc, says: “Since the withdrawal of the subsidy for diesel buses, we can see that the cost of diesel bus operations will rise significantly. This, coupled with the anticipated reduction in the cost of batteries and electric drive systems for buses, as well as the introduction of wirelessly charging during the day now means that the electric bus is now a real contender in the future of public transport. Innovation and trials are urgently needed to find a new way forward and Mitsui, as a business enabler, is happy to back this innovative initiative because we can see the long-term benefit for the community as well as for Mitsui.”

The buses will charge when power transmitted from a primary coil buried in the road is picked up by a secondary coil on the bus. 10 minutes parked over a coil will replenish two thirds of the energy consumed by the bus’s route. The primary coils will be placed at three points on the bus route, and the buses will charge in the time scheduled for driver breaks at the end of the route.

Images courtesy of Conductix-Wampfler