Electric buses begin to roll in Seoul

Those riding buses in South Korea now have a greener option available to them as the Seoul Metropolitan Government recently announced it had begun commercial operations of full-size electric buses on its Mt. Namsan circular routes.

This is believed to be one of the world’s first uses of electric buses in commercial service, though a similar type of electric bus is being tested out in southern California as well.

The project to bring electric buses to Seoul’s roads has been on going over the last year and a half, since the local government there signed an agreement with Hyundai Heavy Industries and Hankuk Fiber for the development of these vehicles.

The buses currently in service are 11.05 meters long and run up to 83km with a single charge. They can be fully charged in less than 30 minutes with a high-speed battery charger. 

The electric bus, with its maximum speed of 100 km/hr, has a low floor and a 322-horsepower engine.

It adopts a high-capacity lithium-ion battery and an energy saving system that can collect and reuse energy generated from brakes when running downhill.

The buses, shaped like peanuts and decorated with designs symbolizing the Namsan Tower and landscapes of Mt. Namsan, replace five buses which were in service on this particular route. 

The plan over the long term is to “substitute all 14 buses with electric coaches” as well as build two more battery chargers on Namsan by March 2011, increasing the number from two to four.

The electric buses rolled into service go towards Seoul’s goal of putting a total of 120,000 electric vehicles in use in the city by 2020, which will account to 50 percent of all public transport vehicles, 10 percent of sedans and 1 percent of trucks and vans.

Nino Marchetti, EarthTechling