By Ronan Glon
Wednesday, Mar 14th, 2012 @ 11:09 am
 
Veolia Transport Finland announced today that it has teamed up with Chinese automaker BYD in order to test electric buses in Finland. This will be the first program of its kind in the Scandinavian country, and marks a major milestone in BYD's electric vehicle development.

The pilot program will kick off later this year and is scheduled to last for three years. Its main purpose will be to see if the buses can hold up to extreme variations in outside temperature. Finland is an appropriate place to run a test like this since the temperature typically varies from -22 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit over the course of the year.

The buses will run regular daily routes in the city of Espoo, which is located in the south of Finland, not far from the capital of Helsinki. Members of the Technical Research Center of Finland will monitor the buses every day to check for potential wear and malfunctions. BYD will also closely monitor the vehicles, and use the data gathered to improve its existing electric technology.

BYD claims that the 31-seater eBUS-12 that will be tested in Finland has a range of about 155 miles in urban conditions, and a top speed of 62 miles per hour. It is equipped with an iron-phosphate battery (also called a Fe battery) that was developed in-house by BYD. The company says that one of the major advantages associated with that type of battery is that the materials contained in it can all be cleanly recycled.

Depending on what kind of charger it is plugged into, the bus needs anywhere from three to six hours to fully recharge. Solar panels mounted on the roof supply the battery with extra electricity.

Finland has high hopes for the pilot program.

"If [the issue of temperature variation] can be handled accordingly, we are confident that electric buses can replace diesel or gas buses and realize real zero-emissions in the future in Finland," said Sami Ojamo, the development director of Veolia Transport Finland.

BYD has already put several eBUS-12s into regular service throughout four Chinese cities. The buses have reportedly racked up several million miles in the city of Shenzhen alone.