The history of electric mobility in Turku

1995: The first electric cars for the city of Turku

1998: The first electric car charging points were installed in Turku

2016: The first electric buses in Föli came into service

2017: Föri was electrified

2018: Testing of electric vehicles

2019: The funicular was completed

2019: The climate team started operations

2020: The world's first electronic library car started operating in Turku

2020: Testing of e-city bikes

2020: User-chi project started

Over the years, City of Turku has invested in electric mobility and acted as a pioneer in many matters. The electrification of Turku started already in the 90s.

It all started in the 1990s

City of Turku acquired its first electric cars already in the 1990s. At the same time, it also inspired others to move around in an environmentally friendly way. New charging stations appeared on the street, which electric car drivers could use for free.

Finland's accession to the EU in 1995 brought all kinds of new things to Turku as well. As the Finnish postal service’s, Posti's, partner, Turku was involved in a joint project of European postal services called EVD Post. It examined the suitability of electric cars for delivery transport, the cars' cost-effectiveness and emission effects.

Posti started delivering mail to Ruissalo with an electric Elcat Cityvan, and the city of Turku acquired two Cityvans for the environmental protection office and Turku Energia. The first Elcat Cityvans served well into the 2010s. Since then, new electric cars were purchased for the city's use.

Read more about the history of e-cars in Turku here

The first charging points for electric cars were installed in Turku in 1998

In 1998–1999, the city of Turku installed thirteen public electric car charging points around the city. Charging points could be found, for example, at hotels and train stations. The charging points were free of charge. There weren't many electric cars at that time, because at that time the technology of electric cars was still a little incomplete. Despite this, charging points were used.

Read more about the history of e-cars in Turku here



Electric buses arrived in Turku public transport already in 2016

In October 2016, Turku region traffic Föli entered a new era, when the first fully electric bus started operating. The car manufactured by the Finnish company Linkker Oy came into service on line 1, which runs between the port and the airport. Over the course of the year, more electric buses were added to line 1. This made City of Turku the first Finnish city to electrify the operation of the entire bus line.

In 2022, more and more electric buses were added to Föli’s traffic. In 2022, about half of Föli's traffic is driven by electric buses, and the share of electric buses is being increased in the future.

Read more about Föli’s electric traffic here

Read more about Föli’s first electric buses here

The city ferry Föri was electrified in 2017

The city ferry Föri runs across the river Aura. Föri was originally put into use as early as 1904. It is Finland's oldest vehicle in everyday commercial traffic. The travel time across the river is about two minutes.

Over the years, Föri has experienced changes. Today, the chain-driven Föri works with electric engine. Power for the electric engines comes from batteries, which are charged at night at the shore charging station while Föri is at the dock. The capacity of the batteries is enough for the whole day. Electricity consumption has averaged around 3,500 kWh/month. Originally, Föri had a steam engine, which was dieselized in 1953. The diesel engine were replaced with electric engine in 2017. The renewed Föri was awarded in 2018 with the Municipal Engineering Achievement recognition.

Read more about Föri here

Read more about Föris accomplishments here

Testing electric vehicles in 2018–2019

In the years 2018–2019, within the framework of the EU-funded CIVITAS ECCENTRIC project, experiences on light electric vehicles were collected in Turku. City employees from many different units acted as testers.They tried out electric scooters, an electric bike, an electric cargo bike, a seated electric scooter, electric scooters and a covered electric scooter. In addition to this, a shared electric car was tested in the project.

Read more about the testing of LEVs here 

Read more about the testing with the shared EV here


To Kakolanmäki by funicular since 2019

In 2019, Finland's first outdoor urban inclined elevator was put into use in Turku. The funicular offers barrier-free access to Kakolanmäki, which is not accessible by other means of public transport. The length of the funicular track is 130 meters and the height difference between the stations is 30 meters. Travel time in one direction is about one minute.

The funicular was awarded the Municipal Engineering Construction Project Award in 2019. In the jury's opinion, the funicular is a brave project and unique in Finland. In Finland, there has never been an outdoor inclined elevator built in an urban structure before.

In 2022, the funicular station pavilion was awarded the International Architecture Award 2022, awarded by the architecture and design museum The Chicago Athenaeum.

The model of the funicular's cabin has been repurposed. It can be found in the playground of Barkerinpuisto park. In 2018, it was built into a play equipment that meets the required safety standards of play equipment, equipped with a climbing net and a slide.

Read more about the funicular here 

The climate team members of the city of Turku are setting an example from 2019 also in the field of electric mobility

The Climate Team of the City of Turku started its operations in 2019. The Climate Team is part of the City of Turku's goal to be carbon neutral by 2029. The purpose of the campaign is to convey that climate issues belong to everyone and that we, as a city, can make big changes with the support of residents and businesses.

Several companies operating in Turku have joined the team, and some of them have started using electronic vehicles.

In 2021, the package deliveries of Peipponen Express and GLS Finland in the Turku city center are handled by fully electrifying their vehicles

Read GLS Finland’s interview here

The Turku-based transport company Futureko is aiming for a carbon-neutral transport sector. The company has reduced its emissions by introducing fully electric vehicles for wheelchair and goods transport. The accessible electric car was born on the spur of the moment.

Read Futureko’s interview here

Find more information on Carbon neutral Turku here





The world's first electronic library car started in Turku in 2020

Turku City Library introduced a new electronic library car on World Environment Day, June 5, 2020. The electronic library car is Finland's and even the world's first fully electric library car. It is also unique because it is Finland's first library car, which is also a work of art. The colorful taping of the library car has been realized with percentage art and it was designed in collaboration with the Turun Anikistit artist group.

The library car is manufactured by Turku-based Jeti. Its model is E12 and its year model is 2020. The frame of the chassis is made of Finnish steel and the car's engine is a permanent magnet electric motor with a power of 250kW and a torque of 3000 Nm.
Read more about the library car here



Testing electric city bikes in 2020

In 2020, City of Turku tested 10 electric bikes in its city bike system. The electric bicycle experiment is part of the development of sustainable mobility in Turku. The purpose of the experiment was to find out the possibility of connecting electric bikes as a permanent part of the city bike system. The eFöllaris were tested by the townspeople from July to December.

eFölläri was implemented as part of the EU-funded CIVITAS ECCENTRIC project, which promoted sustainable movement and smart urban traffic in Turku and four other European cities.


Read more about the Civitas Eccentric project here


USER-CHI: improving electric vehicle charging in 2020-2024

Turku is involved in the international USER-CHI project, which aims to develop charging services for electric vehicles, promote the interoperability of charging systems, find out consumer preferences and attitudes, market electric mobility and strengthen the position of cities in the field of sustainable mobility. The project is financed by the EU's Horizon 2020 program in the years 2020–2024.

Turku's contribution to the project is the preparation of a master plan for electric charging. The general plan will support the cooperation of public and private actors and accelerate the development of the city's charging infrastructure in the coming years. In addition to the master plan, the city of Turku is piloting charging and storage solutions for electric light vehicles.

Turku Energia, TVT Asunnot Oy and Varsinais-Suomen Asumisoikeus (VASO) Oy are also involved in the project, piloting the project's products and contributing to the development of innovative charging systems for electric cars and electric light vehicles.

Read more about USER-CHI here



Turun sähköistymisen aikajana, by Laura Sarlin