People’s eyes glaze over after about one minute spent charging a battery, and that’s bad news for the guys who sell electric vehicles.
So various schemes have been devised to shorten the wait. You can swap in fresh batteries, but that hasn’t taken off. You can add gasoline engines optimized for “range extension,” as it’s called, but that adds moving parts. You can charge as you go, via inductive pads buried in the pavement, but that makes for an expensive roadway.
Now ABB, a Swiss rail and bus company, has another suggestion. In a pilot project in Geneva, it has provided electric buses with quick-charging opportunities. In the 15 seconds that people spend getting on and off the bus the system transfers 2.5 kilowatt-hours—enough to keep the bus on its appointed rounds for another three or four stops. Then it’s time for another quick fix. Only when it reaches the end of the circuit does the bus take the four or five minutes it needs to top off its lithium-ion batteries, which can hold 73 kilowatt-hours.
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