Electric bus fleet launched at Birmingham Airport

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Birmingham Airport is running six new 7900e single deck, 100% electric buses, supplied by Volvo Bus UK, which have replaced diesel vehicles in operation.

It’s the first fleet of its kind for any UK airport and it is a £3.2 million contract with Volvo.

The buses have an 80% lower energy consumption than an equivalent sized diesel bus. The vehicles produce zero emissions. However, the electricity that charges the buses has a generation issue; net emissions is around 80% production but they hope to improve this, to grow to 100%.

“It’s not only providing emission-free transport for millions of people on a local level, but it is also highlighting the systems and solutions to a much wider audience showing that the systems are here that can make an impact today and that important individuals and important corporations are actually grasping that and speeding up the process to clean the air,” said a spokesperson from Volvo.

A bus can carry 60 people and is a free passenger service via all car park routes at the airport. Birmingham airport chief executive Nick Barton described the deployment of the Volvo’s as a “fundamental game changer in terms of customer experience” with features including a USB port with every seat.

The bus has a range of up to 120km without the need to charge. However charges at the bus stop for a few minutes as passengers come on and off the bus reducing downtime through opportunity charging (OppCharge).

The buses began operation on 10 December and there are plans to add further buses to the fleet.

“The new Volvo 7900 electric is an enabler. It gives the new airport new possibilities to develop its public transport; it can travel day or night without disturbing people, it can travel indoors,” said a spokesperson from Volvo.

Birmingham airport said on 4 November that it had set a net zero carbon target by 2033.

“It’s interesting how buses are suddenly very trendy again,” said Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands.