Hitachi Electric’s Grid-eMotion Flash Charging is working on a technology that will enable charging of electric buses in 20 seconds.

Hitachi Energy has, since 2020, been working on a pilot project using the technologyin collaboration with Ashok Leyland and IIT Madras. The pilot should get over in a couple of months, said N Venu, Managing Director and CEO — India and South Asia, Hitachi Energy.

In November 2020 Hitachi Energy (then Hitachi ABB Power Grids in India) signed an MoU with the Chennai-based auto major Ashok Leyland and the IIT Madras for the e-mobility pilot, he told newspersons at the newly inaugurated Global Technology and Innovation Centre of Hitachi Energy in Chennai.

The flash-charging technology allows for ultra-fast charging at intermediate stops optimising operational cost and availability for fleet operators. It will be like a touch-and-go solution wherein the bus will get charged in 20 seconds when the vehicle halts for passengers to alight and enter, he told newspersons.

Energy costs

Hitachi Energy has developed and optimised its flash-charging technology and onboard traction equipment for high-frequency and high-capacity bus routes. By selecting the appropriate technologies and ensuring optimal energy management, the system can cut 1,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions on a bus line covering approximately 6,00,000 km per year. In addition, the e-bus’ energy costs are 30 per cent below that of a diesel bus, says the company.

Claudio Facchin, CEO of the $10 billion Swiss-based Hitachi Energy, said that the solution was first launched in Geneva a decade back. It is very critical for a market like India to scale up quickly.

The electric bus in Geneva looks like a regular trolley bus, except when one looks at the roof. Instead of the usual trolley poles connecting overhead lines, the e-bus has a controlled, moving arm that connects to an overhead receptacle integrated into the bus shelter in less than a second. The Grid-eMotion Flash feeds the onboard batteries for 20 seconds, the time it takes for passengers to get on and off the bus. So passengers never have to wait for the bus to charge, information in the company’s website says.

The flash-charging technology’s features include fully automated fast charging stations installed at some bus stops; 20-second charging time; short-range and cost-optimal onboard batteries; battery capacity from 70 to 130 kWh and zero-emission mass transit solution. No communication is required between infrastructures and buses, the company said.

A flash-charging station is installed at every fourth or fifth stop depending on the bus route. This technology eliminates the visual impact of the overhead lines associated with trolleys and reduces the noise emissions of diesel buses.

Bus lines with Grid-eMotion Flash charging infrastructure can replace trolley- or diesel buses – i.e., frequency and stopping times remain unchanged. That is especially important during peak hours and directly impacts costs. Timetables can be maintained without the need for extra operating hours or additional buses, the company said.