The future of mobility: Linkker electrifies bus transportation
Linkker is a young company based in Lahti, Finland. Its history, however, is longer than its official age: it is a spin-off from a project that studied and developed electric buses. The result was a bus that combined electric bus technology with a lightweight construction suitable for urban use. Linkker was founded to commercialize the new bus.
“Linkker has actually become a glue that has pulled together the results of several development projects from the past 10 years or so. Numerous organizations have participated in these projects, including universities, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) as well as various ministries and industrial partners,” says Linkker’s Managing Director Kimmo Erkkilä.
In addition to electric buses, Linkker and its partners are also working on charging infrastructure and smart mobility solutions to be integrated in the buses. These include e.g. vehicle control systems and ice detectors – solutions that help improve traffic safety and driving technique.
What kinds of solutions do you offer for future smart mobility?
“Electric buses are our main product, as our goal is to electrify bus transportation. Our buses offer more features than normal buses, for example integrated advanced control systems that help optimize driving to stay on schedule and to minimize energy use. In the future, we will also start working on vehicle automation. Our goal is to facilitate and automate driving step by step and eventually have a computer take over certain tasks from the driver. In the future, this path will hopefully lead to robot buses.”
Which practical problems does your smart mobility solution solve, and whose daily life does it facilitate?
“For public transportation passengers, our buses offer more comfortable bus travel. Compared to traditional diesel buses, our vehicles are quieter and stabler. For transportation operators, they offer lower total costs and emissions and help make public transportation more competitive. If we want to improve the utilization rate of public transportation, it needs to be more appealing to passengers.”
How far are you now with the development of your smart mobility solution?
“Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) has ordered 12 electric buses from Linkker in order to speed up the electrification of bus traffic in the region. We have just delivered the first bus and the second one will follow by the end of the year. It is a four-year multi-partner pilot project, and we will deliver two new buses each month starting next spring. The aim of the project is to familiarize bus operators with electric buses and to build charging infrastructure. The buses will also serve as a platform for testing innovations, studying their impacts and developing them further.”
What plans do you have for the future? What kinds of challenges and goals do you have regarding internationalization?
“We have always regarded Europe as our home market and we started building our international network in an early stage. Our first export target countries are Germany, the Netherlands and the Nordic countries, where we have agents looking for opportunities and running negotiations with potential clients. The prospects seem promising. At some point in the future, we will also look beyond the European market.”
“Electric buses will continue to be our main product but together with our partners, we will also continue to offer electric bus systems complete with charging infrastructure and smart solutions. We hope to work with cities to electrify their entire bus transportation.”
Is Finland a good country for developing smart mobility solutions? Why?
“We haven’t encountered any difficulties, so yes. The public authorities and decision-makers, for example the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications, have a very positive and helpful attitude towards the automation of public transportation.”
Technology already offers lots of possibilities but the challenge often lies in getting people to use new solutions. How do you think we could encourage people to use smart mobility solutions?
“From a business to business point of view, the decisive sales argument must be measurable benefits based on facts. Business to business technology needs to save energy, cut costs or offer some other kind of added value. Its payback time should be relatively short. If an innovation becomes profitable fast, you don’t really need much else. And to attract more passengers, public transportation needs to be more appealing and more comfortable.”
- Founded: 2014
- Industry: Vehicle manufacturing
- Headquarters: Lahti, Finland
- Number of employees: 16
- Website: www.linkkerbus.com
Linkker participates in Finpro’s Mobility as a Service Growth Program
- Internationalisation services for Finnish companies: www.exportfinland.fi
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Text: Anu Jussila