The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) has claimed a world first by deploying electric buses on a commercial route. Previous electric bus operations have all been trials, or in the case of Expo 2010 in Shanghai, free public services. The buses went into service on December 21 after an 18 month development project with Hyundai Heavy Industries and Hankuk Fiber.

The electric coaches serving on the Mt. Namsan circular routes are 11.05 meters long and run up to 83km with a single charge. The lithium-ion battery pack can be fully charged in less than 30 minutes and the bus has a maximum speed of 100 km/h. There’s also a regenerative system that reuses energy from brakes when running downhill.

  1. Somebody_Else says:

    Wow, 30 minutes. I didn’t realize that battery tech had come that far already.

    Now we just need to get the nuclear power renaissance going.

  2. bobbo, Adam named the animals, SATAN uses only numbers says:

    Seems one of the biggest limits on electric cars is batteries and battery tech?

    What is the disallowing factor in having our car run much like matchbox racers? Electricity in a track on major roads and we pick up our power from that while recharging much smaller batteries. Such roads would allow for mixed use. I’ve never seen it addressed.

  3. Yankinwaoz says:

    OK…. we’ve had an electric city buses in Santa Barbara for years. Only costs 25 cents to ride. Just Google “Santa Barbara Electric Shuttles”.

    They are open buses, with no aircon. They run around the beach and downtown areas all day long. Have for years.

  4. llsee says:

    This article headline is mis-leading. It should read “…Battery Powered Bus…”. Electric buses are not new. They are called ‘Trolley Buses’ and use overhead wires to provide the electricity to power the buses. I lived in San Francisco for 40 years and rode the Muni’s trolley buses almost daily. According to the Muni’s website, they still have 344 electric trolley buses running on 16 routes.

  5. Rick Cain says:

    What’s old is new again I guess. Maybe people have finally gotten tired of having an orange haze over the city.

  6. CrankyGeeksFan says:

    By 2015, China’s 11 largest cities will have only 100% electric battery buses.

    #1 Somebody_Else – That bus has better specs than some electric cars. Nuclear is just too overpriced. It’s just another way to maintain the central power plant / transmission grid model.

    #2 bobbo, Adam named the animals, SATAN uses only numbers – Great idea! Bring back wireless power transmission for automobiles a la Tesla. Have the transmitter close to the road and a receiver in the automobile. MIT has a short range system – demonstrated on light bulbs – with good efficiency. I don’t remember the numbers but it was around 110 Watts to light a 60 W light bulb from maybe 20 meters. Is Matchbox the system with the electric rollers? I had Tyco Night Glow.

    #3 Yankinwaoz – Tampa had a system of electric taxis – I call them stretch golf carts – for short shuttles from Downtown to a nearby bar district last year. Free but the driver accepts tips. (They made money from selling ads.) They may come back.

    #4 llsee – I just saw “The Conversation”, a movie from c. 1974. Do any “trolley buses” still look like the ones in that movie?

  7. tdkyo says:

    I wonder if the strength of the a/c is affected by being powered merely from a battery. You know, Korea is hot and humid during the summer.

  8. Somebody_Else says:


    The power for all these electric cars has to come from somewhere, and hydro/wind/solar can’t provide enough power to completely offset fossil fuel plants as it is. If we’re going to move to electric cars we’re going to have to generate a lot more power.

    Nuclear is extremely cheap one you have the plant set up. The real cost is in construction and fuel processing (mostly because demand is so low right now).

  9. Buzz Mega says:

    As a child, I was impressed by busses that ran while getting power from overhead wires.

    But this is rilly, rilly news!

  10. CrankyGeeksFan says:

    #8 Somebody_Else – With plug-in electric hybrids, automobiles could charge at a home or business outlet using solar or other means that do not involve the use of a central plant or large scale transmission grid. Then receive power from the wireless power transmitters as they go down a road. If the auto’s battery is too low, then switch to internal combustion, but still receive power from the transmitters and recharge the batteries.
    In southwest Florida, a carbon-free city is planned. One source of energy is a traditional photo-voltaic panel array over a large area. It will have enough for thousands of homes, megawatts, and is 75% less than nuclear. Florida Power is already billing customers by rising their rates before for a yet to be built nuclear plant

    #7 tdkyo – I think cold-weather is more stressful on a Lithium-ion battery than hot. The original gizmag article didn’t state this but I’m sure there is a solar panel of some type on the roof of the bus. That may be enough for an air-conditioner.

  11. Holdfast says:

    A lot of big cities have been using electric vehicles as their central transport infrastructure. Metro/Tube/Subway call it what you will. This is nothing new. The big change is the batteries on the bus.

    Battery technology spent a long time in a format that Michael Faraday would have recognised. It looks like the oil companies have had to stop holding it back.

    We just need to improve the nuclear and renewable sources now…

  12. Mextli says:

    #10 CrankyGeeksFan

    “…other means that do not involve the use of a central plant or large scale transmission grid”

    What does this do to the economies of scale? There will be increased cost somewhere.

    “Then receive power from the wireless power transmitters as they go down a road.”

    How would this work with high demand? It seems the magnetic field around these transmitters would be tremendous. Some are already concerned about the emf around high voltage power lines. I can see “Electricity in a track on major roads…” that #2 bobo mentioned because the inductive coupling would have to bridge a relatively small gap similar to Maglev systems.

  13. laxdude says:

    Vancouver has a fleet of electric (trolly) busses and Seattle has an ever diminishing one.

    They are great in that they have huge torque, and are great on steep hills, which is why Seattle has been putting new bodies on old frames for I think I read the last 50 years (bad news, they are at end of life and will not be replaced).

    However, the trolly bus has some huge draw backs. You can only go where the wires are strung and the wires are expensive to move or put new ones in. You need reinforced light poles that are always paired. Intersections are a fucking pain as the complexity often leads to jumping which means the driver gets out in traffic in the weather to rehook them. Also unless you double wire (which I have never personally seen) you can not run an electric express bus because they can never pass (although I have had drivers that really thought they could). There also must be a lot of maintenance that I have never seen being done late at night.

    Cold weather also has an effect on the wires in Vancouver, there are many more jumps when it is cold and pretty sparks that scare drivers behind.

    What they should do is have live feed AND battery electric busses with auto hook up points. This way an express bus could retract and pass a slower moving local. You could detour around an accident/construction or off the main route for better service, and it would be safe not making a bus driver walk out into traffic to hook back up. All they would have to do would be retract and move on under battery power to the next stop.

    The advantage of going electric is a cut in noise, although the current turbo diesel bus is so much more quiet than their 10 year old counterpart, traffic flow is better because of increased acceleration, and a single smoke stack in a large industrial plant is much easier and cheaper to make clean than every tail pipe.

  14. admfubar says:

    well who cant wait to ride that hello kitty bus!!

  15. ArianeB says:

    #4 I was about to make the same point when I read the headline.

    Trolly busses are out of favor right now, but are destined to make a comeback, they are much cheaper to operate than even these Korean electric busses, and it is easier to put in new overhead wires, than light rail lines.

    As fuel gets more and more expensive, electric powered transportation is the way to go. Electrified rails for long distance transport and trolly busses for innercity distances.

  16. pwuk says:

    In the UK we have electric buses that’re; 80+m long, weigh 500tons and carry 600+passengers, we call them trains and the power is delivered via overhead power lines 😉

  17. deowll says:

    It would be nice to be able to run off batteries using cheap electric power but if we do we are going to need a heck of lot more power plants and they are going to have to provide the power we need at a price we can afford when and where we need the power.

    So for wind and solar out put have a nasty habit of costing way to much and being rather erratic or even a no go when you need them most.

  18. Rick Cain says:

    Nuclear power is heavily subsidized by the Federal Government. The truth is nuclear power is horribly expensive, and it costs more to break down and defuel a nuclear plant than to build one.
    The waste problem still hasn’t been solved, though many nations have just dumped the stuff into oceans, buried it and contaminated the water tables, or just left it in aboveground pools, hoping that someday there will be a flying saucer crash and the technology we recover from it will be the key to cheap and safe disposal of nuclear waste.

  19. CrankyGeeksFan says:

    #12 Mextli – Solar cell or PV (photovoltaic), solar furnace or the new generation of micro-windmills will have their costs come down as devices become more commonplace.
    There’s just to much of a voltage drop or energy lost as heat with transmission grids. Grids in the U.S. are about 98% privately owned. They aren’t inspected well. The easiest step would be to build a grid from the powerplants with its initial megavolt corridors to the substations to the street level 1000 volt wires to the last step-down transformers with 120 volt outputs to the inside wiring when possible with thicker wiring. That’s where the magnetic field problems arise – with current flow. With the thicker wires this will be greatly mitigated. Look at the thin wires coming out of most pole transformers. Also RAISE the voltage when possible certainly at the initial corridors from the power plant. This will also lead to lower loss and weaker magnetic fields.
    The roadways we’re describing need to be built with this in mine.
    2nd part: Have more transmitters come on-line with higher demand – on both sides of the roadway along guard rails and medians. Have the transmitters set at frequencies that won’t effect human health. In the 1970s, there were plans for orbital solar stations that transmit power electromagnetically to antenna arrays on the earth’s surface. The frequency is set so that it doesn’t harm human health.

    Last part: Is this similar to an electron rail gun or linear induction motor? Maglev trains become airborne. Maglev cars with no wheels flying low over a maglev road?
    The wireless system above could be built on the side of a road without tearing up the road’s surface. The induction requires a large magnetic field at the road’s surface. This requires a lot of energy.

  20. RSweeney says:

    How much are they compared to a diesel bus?

    Not a word.

  21. chuck says:

    They introduced H-fuel-cell buses at Whistler during the Olympics. Technically, a fuel-cell bus is an electric bus – since it turns Hydrogen into electricity which runs the engine.

    It is commercial and in regular use. The fare is the same as regular buses, and since it costs a fortune to run (as well as to pay for the Hydrogen to be trucked in from Quebec) it loses a pile of money. So, by environmentalist standards, it’s a huge success.

  22. Nugget Coombs says:

    # 8 Somebody_Else said, on December 30th, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    Nuclear is extremely cheap one you have the plant set up. The real cost is in construction and fuel processing (mostly because demand is so low right now).

    Where do you put all the spent Fuel Rods from Nuclear Power Plans? Do you realise they have a half-life of many thousands of years?

    That being said, Nuclear is clearly NOT the answer.


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