Finland’s capital will launch pilot operations of a fleet of electric buses designed specifically to operate in the country’s harsh climate.
The buses, to be delivered by Linkker, a spin-off from Finland’s VTT Technical Research Centre, will be made of aluminium to decrease their weight and ensuing fuel consumption.
The fleet of twelve light-weight vehicles is expected to serve residents of Helsinki as early as the summer of 2015.
"We made an exception and bought the buses ourselves, because it would have been unreasonable to have a transport operator shoulder the technology risks of individually made electric buses," said Reijo Mäkinen, director of HSL's Transport Services.
This arrangement also enables HSL to test and develop new passenger services on its own buses and try out various installations.
"The batteries will be quick-charged at the terminal,” said Linkker's managing director Kimmo Erkkilä. “Other benefits include zero emissions and quiet operation."
As part of the trial, the buses will be equipped with sensors and real-time monitoring and control systems to collect data about the battery performance, charge levels and energy usage.
The buses will be delivered in stages and their performance will be evaluated on VTT's chassis dynamometer.
The acquisition of the electric bus fleet is part of a wider four-year development project that aims to attract bus operators to the concept of electric vehicles. In addition to reducing emissions, the project also hopes to boost development and take-up of new technologies.
"HSL has made a genuine ‘catalytic acquisition’ to speed up the electrification of bus transport systems,” said Nils-Olof Nylund, head of VTT's TransSmart research programme.
“VTT has been involved in the development of electric buses right from the start, and we are pleased to say that Finland is creating an international reference for electric buses,"
HSL's target is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and harmful local emissions from bus transport by over 90 per cent by 2025. In order to reach this target, HSL has to implement electric buses, and new vehicles powered either by low-emission diesel engines or biofuels.