• Oct 24th 2011 at 9:18AM
  • 27


Manufacturer Trans Tech Bus will soon offer its customers a "green" solution for transporting students to and from school with its eTrans electric-only bus.

The 42-passenger school bus will be equipped with a 120-kW (161-horsepower) electric motor powered by a pair of 278-volt lithium-ion battery packs. Moreover, the eTrans features an auxiliary unit fueled by either compressed natural gas or propane and that runs the bus' heating and air conditioning systems.

The eTrans' range depends on operating conditions, but Trans Tech claims bus drivers will be able to go approximately 100 to 130 miles on a charge. The bus' top speed checks in at a city-capable 50 miles per hour. Dan Daniels, president of Trans Tech, states:
The eTrans will be ideal for short, defined, repetitive routes. In addition, given that most school buses operate during the day, school districts and bus contractors will be able to take advantage of lower, off-peak electricity rates by recharging their fleets at night, when demand is at its lowest.
The eTrans was officially unveiled on October 23 and is scheduled to launch in limited numbers in early 2012. Full-scale production is set to commence in mid-to late 2012. In terms of price, that's not been made public yet and Daniels says that Trans Tech is working to ensure the eTrans is "priced competitively."


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  • 27 Comments
      Dave
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'd like to know the battery size. At 130 miles range, that should be about 260 kwh useable judging by the recent Proterra posts. They'll need a dedicated level 3 charger to fully charge it overnight. (not a dealbreaker necessarily) Recharging fleets of these and other heavy vehicles during the day would not be healthy for the grid. 130 miles would be more than enough range for 4 daily runs in my town (morning and afternoon elementary, morning and afternoon middle and high schools)
      Marco Polo
      • 7 Months Ago
      Ezee and hermanjck, have both made interesting observations on the cost of a bus of this nature. Without Federal, State, or Municipal subsidies, it would be very difficult for all but very wealthy schools to purchase. If the School was fitted with some form of alternate power generation as well, the whole community would benefit. It suggest to me a legitimate use of taxpayer funds, or at least a tax-deductible business sponsorship concept. My country property in Australia is in a pretty affluent area. but in the next shire, (County) there are a number of Retirement homes for elderly residents who are not so affluent. As a local project we raised money and by utilising the talents of the local Schools, Agricultural College, volunteer engineers, and local businesses, we converted a small Toyota 34 seat bus/coach from gasoline to EV's with a 90 mile range, and max speed of 45 mph. I must add that Toyota Australia, were very helpful and forthcoming with parts and batteries. BP Australia donated solar panels, (along with 68 local businesses, and 30 individuals who gave time or money). The little bus has been trundling along for over three years, serving the local retirees on excursions,outings, and as a shopping vehicle. The EV Bus has proved extremely reliable and popular, especially with the local Police. It played a humble role in assisting with evacuations during the disastrous bush fire season. Ev's make great community projects and are also environmentally educational in a subtle, easy to digest sort of way! .
        EZEE
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Marco Polo
        Whoa - you live in a Shire? What - with hobbits? (no wait - they are in New Zealand)... BP donated parts? (hisses and hides head) I am trying to be serious, really. It strikes me as interesting that all these people out there seem to build stuff (2 Wheel included), yet on the commercial side, there seem to be all sorts of problems. Your 90 mile range bus, for example...
          Marco Polo
          • 7 Months Ago
          @EZEE
          @Ezee Shires are a popular description for counties though out the UK and Commonwealth countries. (much like parish in southern US). I actually live in Melbourne, Vic, Australia. Melbourne is a city of four million, with vast spread out suburbs, and one of the best public transport systems in the world. But, I also have a rural property 320 klms from Melbourne. Rural Australia has a long tradition of engineering innovation, (the ute or pick up, was an Australian invention) In the UK, if I wanted to do the same sort of things I do in Australia, I would lose interest long before I had finished filling in the red tape of an overly nanny state. There is a lot less community spirit in the UK.
          EZEE
          • 7 Months Ago
          @EZEE
          @Marco I was being funny.... Although, I did NOT know they were called, Shires, so although my humor fell flat...I did learn something...
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Marco Polo
        Marco, what you describe here is exactly what communities should be doing to improve understanding of BEV technology and potential benefit in public sector use: voluntary projects with charitable corporate assistance. As battery technology eventually becomes economically viable, your community is much more prepared to make the right decisions in product selection, support, etc. Congratulations to all of you who have made this thoughtful step. My own education in this regard has been on a much smaller scale, with the construction of a 1.2kW-Hr bicycle battery from 169 surplus 18650 Panasoinc cells (yes, it's a big fella, fitting in the frame "triangle"). I have a thus far abortive project in waiting with a fantasy conversion on an early model Corvair convertible; this is going to await retirement for me to have the time, I'm afraid. I am EXTREMELY critical of huge municipal expenditures that don't offer nearly the value that they demand from taxpayers. An extra USD50k or more for each 42 pax bus is a crime.
      EZEE
      • 3 Years Ago
      Sweet - 130 miles seems about right, although 'priced competitively' seems somewhat vague... Quick Question (and not trying to piss anyone off I am just curious) - Seeing as a bus is a fairly large vehicle, and charging one would require some amps - any clue as to whether or not a fleet of these would be a major drain on the electric grid for smaller to mid sized towns? Currently we hear of brown outs here and there during summer months, so just asking. And, NOT trying to piss anyone off...
        paulwesterberg
        • 7 Months Ago
        @EZEE
        My guess is that charging a bus would use less juice than an average house. Charged a whole fleet off peak, after 10pm would not cause problems because the grid has a lot of excess capacity at that time. The fleet lot would need an upgraded electrical supply such as those used by small manufacturing plants. If they needed to a Utility could wire up the electrical supply so they could shut down power if they experienced supply problems. In the mid 90's I worked at a large window factory which was shut down for a couple days during the middle of the summer in order to reduce electrical demand.
          Dave
          • 7 Months Ago
          @paulwesterberg
          The average house uses 29 kwh per day. This bus will need at least 200 kwh (222 kwh from the plug if the charging operation is 90% efficient) http://205.254.135.24/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=97&t=3
          Dave
          • 7 Months Ago
          @paulwesterberg
          "My guess is that charging a bus would use less juice than an average house. " Youre off by a factor of ten or so.
          DaveMart
          • 7 Months Ago
          @paulwesterberg
          222kwh charged for 8 hours overnight is only around 27kw, or 270kw for 10 buses. Not a huge energy flow for a small industrial plant, but obviously local transformers etc need to be brought up to scratch. The advantage is that they would largely be charged overnight, when the flow to industry is less. People normally talk about the energy consumption per household, which is a bit misleading as most electricity is not used in the home, so use per capita is much higher.
          DaveMart
          • 7 Months Ago
          @paulwesterberg
          Very rough figures for electricity use in the home would be a flow of around 1kw per house, or 100 Gwe or so. Baseload capacity in the US is about 500 Gwe, let alone peak, so only around 20% of electricity is used in the home.
        Tysto
        • 7 Months Ago
        @EZEE
        Brown outs occur in the middle of the day in the summer, when it is hot and everyone has their A/C on. These buses can just avoid recharging during peak demand periods. That's not true of, say, a new factory, which no one ever worries will be "a major drain on the electric grid."
          Ryan
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Tysto
          And a lot of schools are out over the summer months... The buses could be hooked to a smart grid to help boost voltage if they aren't being used by the school.
          Dave
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Tysto
          "That's not true of, say, a new factory, which no one ever worries will be 'a major drain on the electric grid.'" There are plenty of people who worry about that. It isn't normally a topic of conversation on this board, but the availability of electricity, water, natural gas, transportation routes, human resources, etc, are all definitely considered when a factory is being planned.
          EZEE
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Tysto
          Building a new factory takes some time, and as a result, special facilities may be involved to handle the power. I didn't ask to be 'fresh' - but if a school district suddenly switched over, would there be issues. Honestly not trying to be annoying...just asking...
          BipDBo
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Tysto
          Here is Florida, we don't really get sudden heat waves, but we have cold snaps, and everyone has electric heat instaed of burning fossil fuel. Our brown outs occur in the middle of the nigh during a cold snap.
      imoore
      • 3 Years Ago
      "The eTrans will be ideal for short, defined, repetitive routes. In addition, given that most school buses operate during the day, school districts and bus contractors will be able to take advantage of lower, off-peak electricity rates by recharging their fleets at night, when demand is at its lowest." This may work in some areas, but in locations like mine, where 72-passenger school buses are the norm, It wouldn't work at all. Too small, actually. But I wish them luck. I'm also familiar with Trans-tech, and I heard a rumor a couple of years ago that they were attempting to enter the Class B and C Bus markets. If they are successful with this model (Class B), then they can move into Class C and give Thomas, IC and Blue Bird the competition they need in green vehicles.
      Breconeer
      • 7 Months Ago
      Astute viewers might recognize the cab as being that of the (well established) Smith Newton, hundreds of which have been sold. Smith Electric Vehicles are supplying the cab/chassis and electric drivetrain (Enova drivetrain in some, but Smith's own in-house version later).
        Dave
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Breconeer
        "The Smith Newton all-electric truck features a chassis and cab built in the Czech Republic and then shipped to its Kansas City factory where the batteries, electric drive train, and generator are added." http://fleetowner.com/photo_galleries/smith-electric-zero-emissions-truck-0729/index1.html
      • 3 Years Ago
      So... ... a typical diesel-powered school bus of this size or larger runs around $100k each, depending on quantity ordered, warranty, local regulatory requirements for stuff like seat belts, etc. Assume the sparky version here has a 150kW-Hr batttery (just being gracious to the EV, folks). So at a cost of $400/kW-Hr (which is cheaper than ANYONE in the industry is paying today), and a 20% markup by Trans Tech (impossible to turn a profit at this number, but let's be nice to the BEVBus), Trans Tech's sticker is at $72k before you start adding things like a chassis, wheels, seats, and other options. Charitable guess is that this bus will sell for >$50k more than its diesel equivalent. And thus the hapless district making the purchase will never, ever break even.
        DaveMart
        • 7 Months Ago
        Assuming that the bus does 100 miles a day for 200 days a year at 10 miles a gallon costing $3.50, then you have $7,000/year to offset against battery depreciation. That is not counting externalised costs such as the health damage caused by the particulates. Electric buses may not be outright winners yet on costs, but the gulf is nothing like as great as you postulate. BTW Better Place is paying $400kwh for batteries for 2012 delivery, ie AFTER markup.
          Dave
          • 7 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          "Electric buses may not be outright winners yet on costs, but the gulf is nothing like as great as you postulate." hermanjck was being nice. It'll need at least 200 kwh useable battery storage unless the range is an outright lie. That means it'll need a 285 kwh battery pack if we assume 70% is useable storage. That means the battery pack alone would cost $114,000 if we use $400 per kwh.
          Dave
          • 7 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          I don't doubt you can buy batteries for less than $400/kwh. But once you add on the battery management system, cooling system, and enclosure, I doubt you'll get below $400.
          DaveMart
          • 7 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          Dave, your points have merit, although I doubt the battery needs to be as big. They can reasonably give the range as a full DOD just as the Leaf does, whilst most users and all who want decent battery life will on average do less, so the battery might be around 200kwh. At $400 kwh that comes to about $80,000, although of course you have other costs but you save some on not having an ICE, exhaust system and so on. hermanjck was to an extent being 'nice' on the electric vehicle costs, but so was I on the ICE costs. Assuming $3.50 for diesel for the life of the vehicle is incredibly optimistic. I also did not go into maintenance costs, which are a major cost for ICE and important to fleets. Smith reckon they are fully competitive on delivery vans now, but these vehicles run many more days a year than a school bus which gives them better economics. I don't have the data or enough inclination to find it for these specialised vehicles, but the extra costs whilst substantial are perhaps not prohibitively so.
      • 7 Months Ago
      With the all electric school bus announcement - factor in the new electricity developments such as the following web site. And I believe that new generating facilities will keep pace! http://www.geekosystem.com/japanese-wind-power/
      BipDBo
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is one of the best applications I can think of for electric. They could also recharge in the middle of the day, to cover over 200 miles per day. I'd like to see some other stop and go applications like mail track and garbage trucks go EV or hybrid. Especially the garbage truck. In my neighborhood, it comes early Saturday morning, and it's incredibly noisy because the driver floors it, then slams on the brakes, over and over again. I'd also like to see cops cars go hybrid. They could patrol neighborhoods in EV mode, silently.
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