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TOSA, ABB and the Electrification of Fleets

February 16, 2020 TOSA Bus UNC Clean Tech Summit

The Transportation Panel at this year’s UNC Clean Tech Summit features speakers with a broad range of environmental knowledge and experience. Among them are Gary Rackliffe who serves as VP of Market Development and Innovation in North America for ABB Power Grids and Daniel Simounet who serves as VP in the Transportation Sector for the Americas Region with ABB. ABB is working on electrifying transportation in a way that is economically feasible. During the summit, Gary and Daniel will detail how ABB has transformed the way public transportation will operate in the future.

The electrification of vehicle fleets has a few options for development. One is the creation of an e-bus which has a battery that replaces the traditional diesel engine. These buses carry around the battery during operation and are later recharged at the end of a route. Another option is a light rail type system where vehicles are powered by overhead wires that provide a continuous source of electricity. This would prevent the need for onboard energy storage. ABB has created a solution called TOSA which compromises on these options for the electrification of vehicle fleets. TOSA buses are fitted with small 100 KWH batteries that are about the size of a Tesla battery. These batteries are too small to carry the bus through its entire route. ABB’s signature development is an overhead pantograph connection for buses that completes a flash charge at each bus stop. This would charge the buses just enough to reach their next location. This solution has the potential to be used in locations where vehicle routes are scheduled and frequently used.

Gary recognizes that vehicle fleets are a key element to promoting the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. Financial issues with owning electrical vehicles at the individual level have made it difficult to change the way consumers purchase vehicles. However, the economic value of electrical vehicles is undeniable in terms of lower fuel and maintenance costs. It all comes down to utilization. Fleets have higher utilization as they are operated more frequently than private vehicles. Electrical vehicle fleets can be designed specifically for the route they run and the capacity of individuals they will serve. As the charging infrastructure for these vehicles is developed, it will aid in the electrification of America and improve the way private electrical vehicles can operate. This, combined with the decreasing cost of batteries as research and development progresses, will pave the way toward a complete transformation in vehicles.

TOSA’s electric buses have already been deployed in Geneva, Switzerland and expansion to the United States is currently in the works. But it doesn’t just end with electric buses. Ferries, airplanes and airports themselves can be electrified as well. Baggage handling vehicles can be powered in the same way as electric buses due to their frequent, already mapped paths around the airport. ABB is only just beginning their journey to electrify the world with these exciting new developments in electrification.

Learn more about this new development by attending the UNC Clean Tech Summit on Feb. 20 and 21. To register, visit

About the Author

Shepard Barnes

UNC Class of 2020 | B.A. Environmental Studies