Electric School Bus U.S. Market Study and Buyer’s Guide: A Resource for School Bus Operators Pursuing Fleet Electrification
This publication is intended to serve as a resource primarily for school districts and transportation directors exploring school bus electrification and provide them with a better understanding of the state of the electric school bus market and available offerings. It aims to present the growing interest and investment in the sector along with key aspects of the current technology. A scan of the market explores the growing demand for these buses and how manufacturers are positioning themselves to meet that demand. The catalog presents electric school bus models available today with detailed vehicle specifications allowing readers to compare various models and weigh important considerations.
School districts across the United States have started the transition to electric school buses (ESBs). As of March 2022, 415 districts (or private fleet operators) had committed to the use of 12,275 ESBs across 38 states and a range of operating conditions. States and municipalities are setting electrification goals while manufacturers scale production.
Compared to the typical school bus that runs on diesel fuel, ESBs have the potential to lower operation and maintenance costs for fleets and have zero tailpipe emissions. Their large batteries can store and deliver energy using “vehicle-to-everything” technology, to power buildings and other devices, which can support greater resiliency including through the integration of renewable energy. ESBs also have the potential to generate revenue by discharging energy from their batteries back onto the grid, lowering utility costs and emissions. Though this is a nascent market, technological advancements are due to make this widely available in the near future.
Currently, 22 ESB models are available from 12 manufacturers for Type A, C and D buses: 14 newly manufactured vehicle models and eight repowered vehicle models. There is the largest selection of Type A models. Type C models are the most commercially ready.
Each generation of buses is more advanced than the previous: many manufacturers are on their second or third iteration, some even further along. The newest models possess a battery range to serve more than 99% of routes in the U.S. (School Transportation News 2021a).
Momentum around electric school buses (ESBs) is growing in the United States as school districts across the country transition to this cleaner and healthier technology, bolstered by an upcoming infusion of new funding from the federal government. The ESB transition will require a coordinated effort among numerous entities, including school district leadership and staff; school bus manufacturers and contractors; utilities; policy makers; regulators; local advocacy organizations; and community members.
This publication is intended to serve as a resource primarily for school districts, transportation directors, and other school bus operators exploring school bus electrification to provide a better understanding of the state of the ESB market and available offerings. It aims to present the growing interest and investment in this sector along with key aspects of the current technology. In the “Status of the Electric School Bus Market” section, we explore the growing demand for these buses and how manufacturers are positioning themselves to meet that demand through a scan of the market. Next, in “Bus Basics,” we explain key components of an ESB and discuss the charging and related infrastructure that is needed to support these buses. The core element of the publication presents a catalog of the 22 ESB models available as of early 2022 with detailed vehicle specifications allowing readers to compare various models and weigh important considerations. We conclude by summarizing the status of school bus electrification to date.
Approach and Methodology
The content of this publication has been gathered from a variety of sources, compiling information on models available in the U.S. from publicly available vehicle specifications sheets confirmed through discussions with bus manufacturers when possible.
We explore school district experiences with ESBs representing a variety of use cases in the U.S. – rural, suburban and urban; warm and cold weather, including extreme temperatures; and early adopters further along in their process as well as those in earlier stages of procurement. We compiled recent research and reporting on school district commitments and experiences and supplemented public information with conversations with school districts and other partners. We plan to update this publication annually as new vehicles come to market and existing models are altered.
This resource is one of many from WRI’s Electric School Bus Initiative and is intended to be updated to expand upon topics like funding and financing, alternative service models and utility engagement.
Download the full report at World Resources Institute published on June 10, 2022.
AUSTRALIA’S sole volume electric truck maker, SEA Electric, has partnered with NTI Truck Assist to give national support to its growing list of SEA owners and operators.
It gives owners 24/7 coverage and support through metro and regional areas and reinforces the expansion of SEA truck sales and the growing acceptance of EVs used for commercial delivery and haulage.
SEA Electric president for Asia Pacific, Bill Gillespie, told GoAutoNews Premium that his company has “normalised the process for companies to convert to all-electric fleets”.
“Our ties with NTI provides SEA Electric customers with the confidence that a specialist truck call centre is supporting their investment around the clock,” he said.
The assistance program is national and is for the life of the SEA Electric vehicle’s warranty period of three years or 150,000km.
“Primarily, it’s about building a better customer outcome,” Mr Gillespie said.
“Having a call centre of NTI’s calibre means our customers are talking 24/7 to experienced people who can solve any problems with the vehicle.
“NTI CEO Tony Clark said his company really wanted to be part of this program and get onboard with the zero-emission transport world.”
Mr Gillespie said NTI has recovery vehicles throughout Australia.
“They can do a systems check – with high voltage tests – or basic systems check on the vehicle,” he said.
“If they can’t get the truck operating again then it would be on the tilt tray straight back to the dealer.
“Primarily they’re operating within the range of a dealership.”
He said there aren’t trucks operating between regional centres at the moment but the NTI partnership ensures support for trucks in rural areas.
Mr Gillespie said SEA Electric – which uses Hino trucks as the basis for its all-EV, self-branded models – had orders for about 200 trucks that were now being built.
Trucks operating are in local government authorities, private operators and large corporate fleets, with trials being undertaken by corporations including Woolworths in Sydney and Melbourne, and Ikea.
“We have trucks in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria and more recently, some sales in Tasmania,” he said.
“We have dealers in every part of Australia – two each in Sydney and Melbourne, throughout Tasmania, one in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, plus one on the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast – and regional centres such as Wodonga and Cairns. So we have coverage.
“We are targeting major metropolitan areas but we also have strong interest from local governments in suburbs and in regions. There is no shortage of demand and interest in EVs for commercial applications.”
He said local governments had been enthusiastic about the electric truck.
“A lot of councils have a desire to lower their carbon footprint,” he said.
“Australia has 537 councils and we have already sold to about 10 councils. There’s a really big opportunity in Australia for electric trucks in delivery routes.
“As an example, we also have two small home delivery, refrigerated trucks on trial in Sydney and Melbourne,” he said.
“It is a world-first to run full electric, refrigerated trucks. We are also in discussions with other companies, including Coles and Toll.”
Mr Gillespie said that there are no government incentives, at the moment, for individuals and corporations to move to electric trucks.
“We’ve been lobbying state and federal governments – the state governments in Queensland and Victoria particularly – and have had discussions about the possibility of offering tax incentives for companies to choose zero-emission vehicles,” he said.
“There’s a range of things that governments can do but up to this point there’s been no money on the table for companies wishing to choose a zero-emission alternative. So we’re still working with the government.”
Mr Gillespie said SA Electric has 15 dealers in Australia who are sales, service and parts outlets, and then other Hino dealers will in time become parts and service back-up dealers.
“There are nearly 50 dealers around Australia that will be able to handle backup and support for the trucks and we’re probably six months away from having that in place,” he said.
“We’re also looking at up to five service people in each state. The truck is serviced by the dealer and the warranty handled by the dealer. If the warranty work is related to the truck, it goes to Hino. If it’s electrical, we take care of that.”
Mr Gillespie said SEA Electric was now working with the network in high-voltage training.
Asked about SEA Electric’s future plans, Mr Gillespie said the company had no plans to move to hydrogen fuel-cell units as a propulsion system for long-distance trucks.
“I don’t think that battery electric is going to be the way to go for long distance work at this point,” he said.
“I know that there are long-range electric highways being built – for example, in Queensland – and that in time, with fast charging and enough energy in these areas, EVs can have the ability for long distances.
“But Australia sells about 22,000 light and medium-duty trucks each year. That means what we are selling at the moment doesn’t even scratch the surface. Even if we make 1000 electric trucks in Australia, where we’re a mile away from having to worry about the long-distance truck segment.
“So we’re very aware of the huge opportunities available to us in the urban, metro and regional markets. We have enough activity thre without thinking about long-distance trucks.”
Continue reading the full article at Go Auto Premium by Neil Dowling published on June 12, 2022.
USA – Sea Electric Holdings Pty Ltd, based in Los Angeles, California, showcased a Class 6 EV stripped chassis at the ACT Expo in Long Beach. Named the SV6, the firm states that the chassis is suitable for all urban applications up to a GVWR of 22,000lbs (9,980kg).
Featuring the company’s proprietary SEA-Drive 120b system, the chassis outputs 335bhp and 2,580lb-ft of torque. Fitted with a 138kWh battery pack, an unladen vehicle can expect a range of 170 miles (270km).
The firm states that due to the medium-voltage architecture of the SEA-Drive system, there is no requirement for active thermal management of the batteries. As a result, the firm claims that its solution is the lightest, most cost-affective, and most efficient system available in the last-mile delivery segment. Durability testing for the chassis is set to commence in Q3 2022, with series production expected to begin in Q1 2023. Conditional orders are currently being taken.
Speaking to Truck & Bus Builder, Tony Fairweather, CEO and Founder of SEA Electric said:
The chassis is a product that can be scaled up and down, but it is primarily intended for the North American step van market. We also intend to homologate it to R100/03 standards so that it is compliant with European regulations. As much as this product is already suitable for Europe, we are looking at a 7.5 tonne variant (Class 4), and some of our customers are already aware that we have intentions to produce an SV5 and SV4 chassis.
Expanding on the company’s plans for Europe, Fairweather added:
Europe is on the horizon, we have already set up wholly owned subsidiaries in the UK, and in Vienna, Austria, with our first employees on the ground and our first product under development. We also have had a product operating in South Africa with Isuzu since before Covid and that has been progressing really well. Also, we have launched our
first Toyota-based product in Indonesia.
Tony Fairweather, CEO of SEA Electric, speaking at the ACT Expo
Responding to the launch of competing products in this segment, such as the chassis unveiled by Blue Bird Corp at ACT Expo, Fairweather said:
The main point of difference between our product and its competition is that we have a proven platform that has operated with UPS for three years and has been validated by them. Tested in some of the harshest environments in the US, our products ran through cold winters in Michigan and through summer trials in Arizona. As a result, we’re able to operate in -20°C (-4°F) to 60° C (140°F). Anyone else showing a chassis on the ground right now has not been through the rigorous testing that we have put our products through.
SEA Electric was initially founded in Australia in 2012, before moving its headquarters to Los Angeles to focus on offering its products to the much larger North American market. Commenting on this shift in strategy, Fairweather said:
Developing and establishing technology in Australia, with zero incentives back then, meant that we had to think outside of the box in terms of creativity. Customers in this space want three outcomes: the lowest cost solution, the lightest weight solution, and the most miles per kilowatt hour. Not having incentives in Australia at the time meant we had to take that into consideration during development. A few other companies that were early to this space, based in California, took advantage of schemes like HVIP and it has not done them any favours in terms of what they have created. They’re developing higher voltage, heavier, and costlier solutions which has impacted heavily in those three categories. Now, Australia has more incentives and we’re expanding there as well as in New Zealand. What I wanted to do before relocating to the US was ensuring we had an excellent, proven product with high-mileage testing completed. As an outsider coming to the US, if you arrive here saying you’re the bee’s knees without any proof of it, they’ll squash you pretty quickly – we’ve come here with a million miles of testing, we were active in four countries before coming here.
On funding, Fairweather said:
California and the East Coast in the US are doing a great job in terms of funding. However, governments cannot incentivise too much to support the electrification of diesel vehicles in this space. The middle of America really needs to catch up and there needs to be more consistency and standardisation across individual states and countries.
Continue reading the full article at Truck and Bus Builder by Will Hall published on June 7, 2022.