Volvo: Electric mobile libraries on a silent mission for an equitable city

Using playfully designed electric buses from Volvo, the City of Gothenburg, Sweden wants to get more children to read. Since the new mobile libraries are both emissions free and quiet, they can drive into zero emission zones – and even into buildings

Using playfully designed electric buses from Volvo, the City of Gothenburg, Sweden wants to get more children to read. Since the new mobile libraries are both emissions free and quiet, they can drive into zero emission zones – and even into buildings.

Since the premier tour in early September, Gothenburg’s two new mobile libraries have made many road users take notice. While one bus is designed to look like a fairy-tale forest, the other is reminiscent of a vessel for going underwater or into outer space.

“The new buses are better than we could have hoped for and have received standing ovations from everyone we meet,” says Albin Berggren, bus driver and project leader for the new buses.

The new buses are better than we could have hoped for and have received standing ovations from everyone we meet.

Albin Berggren, bus driver and project leader for the new buses

The purpose of the playful designs and interiors is to get more people, especially families with children, to discover all the possibilities offered by the mobile libraries. Not only can you borrow and return books – everyone is welcome to crawl up on a sofa for a while and read, gain new knowledge and maybe meet new friends.

In the mornings, the mobile libraries visit pre-schools, in the afternoons and evenings, they drive to bus stops in different neighbourhoods around the city.

The buses are part of “The city where we read to our children” initiative, which in turn is part of Gothenburg’s equality work.

“Not all children are close to a library building. With this new concept, we can invite more families into a fairy-tale world that stimulates imagination, language and reading. For children, having access to literature and eventually being able to read for themselves is one of the most important factors in how they manage school and further on in life,” says Anette Eliasson, Library Manager for Gothenburg.

The library’s whole idea is to conserve resources and we wanted the most climate-smart alternative possible.

Anette Eliasson, Library Manager for Gothenburg

The buses, which are Sweden’s first electric mobile libraries, are Volvo 7900 Electrics. Energy consumption is about 80 percent lower than the corresponding diesel bus. Since electric buses are both emission-free and quiet, they can be used in zero emission zones for extended periods of time. They also create other opportunities, such as being able to drive into shopping centres for book and family events.

“The library’s whole idea is to conserve resources and we wanted the most climate-smart alternative possible. With the new buses, we can also drive in zero emission zones in parts of the city that we have not been able to before,” says Anette Eliasson.

For Albin Berggren, the switch to electric buses means that he now has a much better working environment that is quiet and free of exhaust fumes.

“The new buses are phenomenal. The comfort is very high and for me as a driver, it obviously feels very good that the buses run on electricity, not least when driving to places such as preschools and playgrounds,” he says.

To ensure that the buses are always running, the cultural administration in Gothenburg has chosen a turnkey solution. This means that Volvo Buses takes care of all maintenance for both vehicles and batteries for a fixed monthly cost. At night, the buses are washed, cleaned, serviced and charged in Volvo’s depot.

“This arrangement means that we can devote ourselves to what we do best – library activities. For us, it is also important to be able to trust that the buses always work and don’t stop,” says Anette Eliasson.

The new buses are connected, which makes it easy for Volvo Buses to follow the status of each vehicle. It also allows them to use connected services such as Safety Zones, a connected service that automatically limits vehicle speed, for example, outside schools and libraries.

SOURCE: Volvo Buses

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