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Europe: In Italy, Electric Buses Wirelessly Pick Up Their Power

Position markings for a wireless charging system with coils integrated in the road surface in Turin.
Battery-powered buses that do not require frequent stops at charging depots might seem a maybe-someday proposition. But Conductix-Wampfler, a wireless-charging engineering company based in Weil am Rhein, Germany, claims the bus of the future is fully operational on the streets of Turin and Genoa, Italy, and has been for 10 years.

The Conductix-Wampfler IPT Charge system, which powers about 30 buses in the northern Italian cities, relies on primary coil charging units in the road surface at bus stops, terminals and hubs. The secondary coil, which receives the charge, is in the bus chassis. When a bus stops at a charging station, the coils are positioned within 40 millimeters, or roughly 1½ inches, of each other.

Batteries are fully charged overnight at the depot and topped off at each charging point on the route, ensuring sufficient range for reaching the next charging station. The topping-off charge refreshes about 10 to 15 percent of the battery’s capacity and, according to Conductix-Wampfler, can be done while passengers board and exit. Buses serving Turin travel about 200 kilometers, or roughly 125 miles, a day without requiring a stop for a prolonged period or a return to the depot for charging, the company claimed.
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