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Why Oslo’s fleet of electric busses has struggled with the cold this winter

Frazer Norwell
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Why Oslo’s fleet of electric busses has struggled with the cold this winter
Oslo's busses have struggled with cold weather this winter. Pictured is a bus in Oslo. Photo by Gunnar Ridderström on Unsplash

Colder than typical weather has caused significant challenges and delays for Oslo’s bus network. With another cold snap on the horizon, the struggle could continue.


Public transport firm Ruter has launched a new reduced bus schedule in Oslo to try and overcome issues with its fleet of electric buses in the cold weather.

“We have had good cooperation with our operators in recent days, and together, we have drawn up a plan to provide a predictable offer to the population of Oslo and Akershus,” Ruter's managing director Bernt Reitan Jenssen said in a press release.

The 20, 21, 24, 25, 28, 30, 31, 31E, 34, 37, 54, 58, 60, 66, 67, 69, 71, 76, 79, 80E, 81, 81E, 83, 84E and 580 routes will see fewer departures outside of rush hour between January 16th and January 20th.

Ruter said the change would allow buses to be charged throughout the day. Cold weather decreases the range of electric vehicles meaning more frequent charging stops are required.

Oslo’s bus traffic has been affected by delays and cancellations when the temperature has dropped below -10c this winter.

The first week of the new year saw an extreme cold snap cause chaos for Oslo’s fleet of electric buses.

Ruter neither owns nor operates the buses in Oslo. Instead, it puts the routes out to tender, and four subcontractors drive buses on Ruter’s behalf.

Unibuss, Nobina, Vy Buss and Connect Bus are the firms contracted by Ruter. Unibuss said that some of its its new electric buses hadn't had the opportunity to undergo extensive testing.

“When it comes to testing, the electric buses from Man are a completely new model, and we are among the first to test them in a really cold climate. There has been no opportunity to do so in the past,” Henrik Anderberg, technical director at Unibuss, told the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.

“Both Solaris and Man (the manufacturers of the buses used by Unibuss) have tested their products in the cold, but of course, not on the same scale as daily operation entails. How extensive their tests have been, they can best answer for themselves,” Anderberg also said.


Solaris Norway told Aftenposten that it tested its diesel and electric buses in the north of Finland and tested vehicles in temperatures below -30c.

Unibuss also used a margin of error when ordering the vehicles. When it placed the order, it estimated how many buses would be required to compensate for the decreased range in the cold.

Another issue is that even when temperatures increase, cancellations and delays have continued before gradually winding down.

Ruter has said that this was due to a lag period.

“So far in January, the temperature has fluctuated from a double-digit number of minus degrees to a couple of plus degrees. When it gets warmer, a lag occurs after the cold period we’ve had. This means that we may have a shortage of buses, as well as challenges with range and charging even if it is hot,” the company said in a press release.


It’s also worth pointing out that while the electric buses have struggled with range in the cold weather this winter, temperatures have been well below the seasonal average for the Norwegian capital.

The average temperature in Oslo during January is -2.3c. However, this winter, temperatures have regularly exceeded -10c, which can make a significant difference to an EV’s range.


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Goose 2024/01/30 15:01
Sounds like Unibuss and Ruter need more cowbell.

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