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Bombardier launches PrimoveCity for multi-modal stationary or mobile inductive charging of electric vehicles

Bombardier recently launched PrimoveCity, its new e-mobility solution, together with the establishment of a related new center of competence. PrimoveCity addresses the range and recharging constraints of electric vehicles and is intended to provide common technology for all forms of electric vehicles, including trams, buses, commercial vehicles, taxis and cars.

PrimoveCity utilizes the PRIMOVE technology capable of providing power transfer for all electric vehicles. Using inductive energy transfer, PRIMOVE equipment mounted under the vehicle generates power from cables creating a magnetic field placed under the ground’s surface. The system only energizes when it is fully covered by the vehicle. (Earlier post.)

The advantages are freedom from wear and exposure, elimination of the need for batteries, high safety, flexible power, and theoretically unlimited range. PRIMOVE can charge vehicles not just when parked, but also in motion. The vehicle communicates with the wayside components to switch on a given segment only when the vehicle is directly over it.

The PRIMOVE technology consists of both wayside and vehicle components. The wayside components are:

  • Primary cable segments. These provide the actual power transfer to the vehicle, and are installed just under the road surface.
  • Magnetic shielding under the primary winding (magnetic layer) to prevent electromagnetic interference.
  • Vehicle Detection and Segment Control (VDSC) cable. This detects when a PRIMOVE-equipped vehicle is above the segment, and switches that segment on. Segments otherwise remain inactive, to comply with electromagnetic interference protection requirements.
  • Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) data cable. This provides information for system control and diagnostics.
  • Inverters. These convert the DC supply voltage to the AC voltage used in the system.
  • DC feed cables. These supply power to the inverters.

Vehicle components include:

  • Power Receiver System, consisting of the pick-up with a compensation condenser. Both can be installed underneath the vehicle. They convert the magnetic field from the primary winding into alternating current.
  • Inverter. This converts the alternating current from the pick-up into direct current that powers or charges the vehicle.
  • Energy storage (e.g. battery on buses and cars, or MITRAC Energy Saver on trams)
  • Power electronics
  • Vehicle Detection and Segment Control (VDSC) antenna. This detects cable segments and coordinates switching on and off.

Vehicle and wayside components are designed to meet all applicable safety standards. Reliable performance is ensured, even under adverse weather and ground conditions such as snow, rain, ice, sand or water.

The new center of excellence is located at Bombardier’s engineering and manufacturing site in Mannheim, Germany, which will also have an advanced testing and development facility opening in September 2011. The new e-mobility centre of competence will support future partnerships, projects and opportunities in the fast moving electric mobility sector.

Having successfully demonstrated the BOMBARDIER PRIMOVE technology with a Bombardier low floor tram in Augsburg, Germany, Bombardier is now further trialing the technology with a bus on a 125-meter stretch of road in Lommel, Belgium. The success of these first two initiatives encouraged Bombardier to launch the PrimoveCity program which will provide easy urban mobility for all types of electric vehicles. This summer tests will also begin with an automobile.

The aim of the PrimoveCity program is to change the game in electric mobility by providing easy, unlimited emission-free mobility in cities for all types of electric vehicles. Trams, buses, cars and trucks will be able to operate electrically without catenaries, cables, stops, long waits for batteries to recharge and, most importantly, they will be able to share the same infrastructure.

—Andre Navarri, President, Bombardier Transportation

After successfully concluding the initial tests for trams and buses, Bombardier will continue to test additional elements for cars aiming to make this technology available for commercial operation very soon. It is important to note that Bombardier’s objective is not to start manufacturing any type of non-rail vehicles but to offer the PRIMOVE technology to other industries also.

—Jeremie Desjardins, head of the PrimoveCity program, Bombardier Transportation

(A hat-tip to Tomas!)



An excellent idea to accelerated the switch to electrified vehicles.

This could the final solution for extended (unlimited) range e-vehicles. The under or in-road surface power system could be broken up into short segments to reduce or nullify the effect of failures. It should not be too difficult to design an automated charge/pay system similar to automated pay roads to recover the cost of energy used.

With 're-charge-on-the-go' the on-board e-storage unit could be very small. Super-caps would do the job and do well to recover braking energy.

Installing such system may require major investment but it could be an important distributed make work program that could not be bought from China. The in-road equipment could be machine embedded into existing streets, paved roads and highways quickly enough. Five hundred+ such machines, operating 24/7, could cover the country within a few years. Laying buried road side power cables is not a challenge either.

A very worthwhile alternative way.


Bombardier is a very innovative company, but I question the infrastructure costs. Maybe in some urban settings where the tax rates and investment can handle it, but I am not seeing it on a large scale.


It is good idea for in-road systems but for in-parking or "bus stop" charging systems could be better to start.


I could see it for a range extended bus stop. This company is in urban buses and light rail, the extra costs could be accounted for in the bus application.

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