Link Transit of Wenatchee, Washington, has this month achieved 50 megawatt-hours of energy delivered wirelessly to its electric bus fleet. Link Transit is the first electric bus operator in the Americas to reach this technology milestone, and the first in the world to do so in under two years.
Debuting its electric buses on urban routes in 2018, Link Transit elected for wireless charging because of the inherent high efficiency of the system and its ability to allow an electric bus to drive with unlimited range using opportunity charging delivered to the bus along its driving route. “On-route” wireless charging delivers partial charging from a ground pad to a receiver completely automatically to the zero-emission bus without the need for cables. This enables a bus to be charged throughout the day while on its scheduled route without interruption.
The wireless charging system was developed by Pennsylvania-based Momentum Dynamics, the global leader in efficient, automated high-power wireless charging for electric vehicles.
During the 2019-2020 cold winter weather, a Wenatchee bus featuring the wireless system ran a 14-hour scheduled route and maintained its battery charge above 90% throughout the journey. Maintaining battery charge during duty cycle is a key factor in allowing fleets to adopt electric vehicles. Vehicles have an effective range exceeding even diesel buses and return to depot with a nearly full battery which requires significantly less charging overnight, which in turn reduces demand on a depot’s electricity supply and causes less stress to the electric utility.
“We are delighted to have reached such a significant milestone as we work to keep our customers satisfied and make the air and streets of the Wenatchee area cleaner,” said Richard DeRock of Link Transit. “This faultless system has allowed us to easily deploy an electric bus on a route that would otherwise have been very challenging for a depot-only charged vehicle.”
The wireless system requires no plugs or cables to operate and can be installed within the street pavement, or on a garage floor, making the automatic system both silent and invisible at the point of charging. This is especially important to cities as they seek range-extending charging infrastructure that does not necessitate the adoption of prohibitively expensive and visually obtrusive plug-in or overhead charging systems on public streets.
“We are very pleased to support Link Transit in their drive to a better future,” said Andy Daga, CEO of Momentum Dynamics. “Wireless charging makes fleet management very efficient because the system delivers increased range and eliminates the need for a depot full of cables and chargers, all of which are subject to wear and tear and creates a hazardous condition for workers. It is the most cost-effective charging system for fleets available today.”
A significant benefit of opportunity charging is that vehicles can stay in-service without driving range restrictions. Because of this, fleets often need fewer buses to support their routes and gain substantial savings in capital expenditure. This will become increasingly important as transit agencies rethink how they will limit passenger loads and the number of buses that will be required in the wake of COVID-19 restrictions.
Following this successful program, Link Transit now plans route expansion and will add 10 new electric buses to its fleet in 2020. All buses will be fitted with Momentum Dynamics’ wireless charging receivers and Momentum will provide 3 additional on-route charging stations, each capable of delivering 300kw.