Over two years after its introduction, the first all-electric school bus in the US has gone into service. Produced by the partnership between Trans Tech and Motiv, the SST-e school bus can carry up to 25 students, has a range of 80 or 100 miles (depending on options) and can save a school district over $10,000 a year in running costs. Those range numbers are down from the concept bus (which was going to offer 100 or 130 miles), but it should still be plenty for most of the morning and afternoon runs to pick up the be-backpacked.

The powertrain comes from Motiv Power Systems and the buses are built by Trans Tech Bus, with the first unit making its debut in the Kings Canyon Unified School District in California. The school district has ordered four of the SST-e EVs, with help from the California Air Resources Board, which contributed $400,000 towards the project.

School buses have long been a target for greening, since most of the current fleet burns not-so-clean diesel. A popular improvement in the past has been anti-idling campaigns, but a bus without a tailpipe is much cleaner than a bus with a tailpipe that is off some of the time. The SST-e uses a Ford E450 cutaway chassis (the concept was based on a Smith electric truck). The first plug-in hybrid school bus entered service in the US in 2007, also in California.
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America's Only All-Electric School Bus Transports Students, Saving California School District Over $10,000 a Year in Fuel and Maintenance

Powered by Motiv Power Systems and built by Trans Tech Bus, this new zero-emission school bus means students can breathe easy

The new all-electric bus is expected to save Kings Canyon Unified School District over $10,000 a year in fuel and maintenance costs, while also eliminating student exposure to particulate air emissions. The new bus is powered by Motiv Power Systems. (PRNewsFoto/Motiv Power Systems)

The new all-electric bus is expected to save Kings Canyon Unified School District over $10,000 a year in fuel and maintenance costs, while also eliminating student exposure to particulate air emissions. The new bus is powered by Motiv Power Systems. ...

FOSTER CITY, Calif., March 3, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Kings Canyon Unified School District (KCUSD), in California's San Joaquin Valley, leads the nation as the only school district using an all-electric school bus to transport students. KCUSD ordered four buses from Trans Tech Bus, featuring electric powertrains from Motiv Power Systems. The new electric school bus passed all KCUSD and California Highway Patrol inspections and certifications, making it the first modern electric bus to be approved for student transportation by any state.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140303/SF75117)

The new electric bus is expected to save KCUSD over $10,000 a year in fuel and maintenance costs. Called the SST-e, this electric version of Trans Tech's popular SST model was unveiled in October 2013 and delivered last month. The SST-e utilizes a Ford E450 cutaway chassis equipped with a Motiv electric powertrain. Motiv will feature an electric E450 cutaway chassis at The Work Truck Show in Indianapolis, IN March 5-7, at booth # 633.

"KCUSD has taken major strides to reduce diesel particulate emissions by as much as 85 percent" said Jason Flores, Transportation Director for KCUSD. "Going electric with these new green school buses is just one more important step in KCUSD's ongoing portfolio of measures to protect our children, serve our community, and be good stewards of our environment. We hope other school districts will follow our lead to protect children from diesel particulates and protect themselves from rising diesel costs."

Motiv's electric Powertrain Control System (ePCS) is the only solution in the truck and bus market to make medium- to heavy-duty vehicles all-electric with a variety of commercially-available batteries and motors. The Motiv ePCS is installed on the E450 chassis and other chassis types, as a ship-through modification similar to a Compressed Natural Gas up-fit. This enables minimal changes between the fossil fuel and electric versions of the vehicles.

"In this way, we are answering the call of the transportation industry to build reliable EV's that fit seamlessly into the existing truck and bus manufacturing and service infrastructure," said Jim Castelaz, Founder and CEO of Motiv Power Systems. "We are absolutely thrilled to see this school bus transporting students without exposing them to diesel exhaust. I hope that by the time my daughter is old enough to go to school clean, zero-emission school buses like this one will be the industry standard."

The first SST-e buses are partially funded by the AB 118 Air Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) administered by the California Air Resources Board. Funding support for the electric school buses was provided through AQIP's Advanced Technology Demonstration Project and the Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP). Voucher incentive funding is available through HVIP to any California school district for offsetting the cost of these zero-emission buses. Similar programs are in place in New York City and Chicago. When the fuel cost savings are combined with vehicle financing, these school buses are available at or below the cost of conventional buses.

"I'm proud of the accomplishment that Motiv and TransTech has made in forwarding our electric drive effort into the School Bus industry," said John Corr, a member of the investment group that owns Trans Tech Bus.

The Trans Tech/Motiv SST-e school bus is available with 80 or 100 miles of range and holds 25 students or 18 students with a wheelchair lift and configurable track seating for up to 3 wheelchairs.

ABOUT MOTIV POWER SYSTEMS

Founded in 2009 and based in Foster City, CA, Motiv Power Systems designs and builds a flexible electric Powertrain Control System (ePCS) for the commercial truck, bus and refuse industries. Motiv's ePCS works with a wide variety of batteries and motors. This flexibility allows traditional truck chassis OEMs to assemble electric trucks on their current diesel truck assembly lines. Motiv's ePCS is available for medium and heavy duty commercial truck applications including box trucks, flat/stake beds, refrigerated trucks, utility/service bodies, shuttle buses, delivery vehicles and refuse trucks.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 18 Comments
      • 11 Months Ago
      Good ranges of electrical buses have been introduced in California. These buses are having very positive impact on environment and good solution for saving nonrenewable resources such as diesel and petrol for our future use. Lonlockwoodelectric is an organization contributing in spreading the information about uses of green resources in Webster.
      Jesse Gurr
      • 11 Months Ago
      It looks like they got almost $500,000 from the ARB, according to this website. Good for them. Hopefully it gets it going and there will be more electric buses when my kid starts going to school. http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/aqip/demo.htm
      korblalak
      • 11 Months Ago
      The whole school bus operation is very inefficient. Here are a couple suggestions: * Localize resources (drivers and buses) to minimize travel and curve pollution (there is no reason why a school bus should be traveling across the county on the highway) * Create an electrification program to retrofit existing fleet (organize with other school districts to scale and cut costs)
      EZEE2
      • 11 Months Ago
      The article stated that CARB provided $400,000 towards the project, so it is unclear what the actual cost of these things is. I did a google search, and glory be, the first article that had anything on the cost came from everyone's favorite, Fox News! Here is the excerpt: Trans Tech Bus CEO Dan Daniels tells FoxNews.com that the eTrans will be available in several models with battery sizes from 40-120 kWh. Maximum range will be between 45 and 120 miles per charge, making it most suitable for school systems with “short, defined, repetitive routes.” A full recharge should take less than eight hours and a separate generator that running on natural gas or propane will power the climate control system to help improve range. The top speed is 50 mph. Pricing has not been set, but will be competitive with the other alternative-fuel and hybrid buses currently on the market, according to Daniels. Such vehicles can cost anywhere between $200,000 and $750,000. (Me again) this article was a year old or so (I forget) so not sure if these buses are new, but in total, we are looking at $800,000, best case scenario (yes, evil Fox News reported this, but it is a quote from the company president). Now, if I math for a moment, assuming these are $200k and a regular bus is $100k, then it would be 10 years per bus, and not, 'hundreds' :D
      Marco Polo
      • 11 Months Ago
      Building EV school buses is not an easy proposition. It's not possible to standardise on one particular model, as the applications vary widely. The traditional US school bus must be capable of being very strong (and that means heavy) long lasting 10-15 years, cheap to maintain, reliable, and capable of travelling in snow and difficult terrain. School buses must be versatile. Apart from set daily pick up and collection of fixed routes school buses are used for excursions, and often a wide range of community purposes. I've built (or converted) a number of smaller EV buses, and each vehicle presented its own set of difficulties and dynamics. Over the years, I have encountered many enterprises (in many countries) who have attempted to build viable electric buses and trucks. The most advanced and successful of these pioneers is the former 80 year old UK manufacturer, Smith Electric Vehicles, which moved to the US and is in the processes of being fully US owned. PRC companies like BYD, have also been very active in pioneering electric buses, but so far the industry has lacked the drive and determination (and deep pockets) of a leader such as Elon Musk or Carlos Ghosn.
      Barry Miller
      • 11 Months Ago
      For this bus to become viable the suggested service life time of 10 years suggested by EZEE2 is realistic but will the DOT see it that way, Pa. has an in service life of 5 years then it must be replaced. New thinking of regulations will be needed to help this bus fly.
        Dave D
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Barry Miller
        You boys need to head on down to Tennessee where we keep them thar damn buses for 20 years! Hell, we can't afford not to LOL
      • 11 Months Ago
      Sorry, you're 20 years too late to be the first. The first electric school bus was in service in Goleta (Santa Barbara) in 1994. I rode on it during an internship at CALSTART. It was made by APS. Search on Goleta Electric School Bus APS and you can read about it. http://articles.latimes.com/1994-05-10/business/fi-55894_1_electric-school-bus
      2 wheeled menace
      • 11 Months Ago
      It'll save $10,000 a year, but they spent $400,000 on this thing? A new school bus is something like $100,000, so the break even point is hundreds of years. Good job, California.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 11 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        oh dear, that $100,000 figure was for a 66 person school bus, but this only seats 25.
        j
        • 11 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        The school district has ordered four of the SST-e EVs... That's F O U R.
        JakeY
        • 11 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        It says 4 buses for $400k, so about $100k each.
        HVH20
        • 11 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        Design, Tool up and Test a new engine and transmission then only build 4 buses and tell me how much they cost.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 11 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        ( i really hope that wasn't the cost of just one )
        2 wheeled menace
        • 11 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        Mmkay. I missed that.
      gpmp
      • 11 Months Ago
      Reported on CleanTechnica 5 days ago: "When the fuel cost savings are combined with vehicle financing, the Trans Tech/Motiv electric school buses are actually available at or below the cost of conventional buses. The first round of SST-e buses is partly funded by the AB 118 Air Quality Improvement Program administered by the California Air Resources Board. Still not enough information to calculate the cost of each bus, though. http://cleantechnica.com/2014/03/05/new-electric-school-bus-saves-california-district-10000-per-year/
      Dave D
      • 11 Months Ago
      Everyone on here knows I'm an EV fan-boy but I have to put a little reality into this... Is the cost $400K? Is it 4 buses for $400k? Is that cost on top of the $500K that CARB gave them? Is this volume production (presumably not)? If they bought 100 of them, could they get better cost savings on the infrastructure and save more than "$10K / year"??? What I'd love to see is a REAL apples to apples cost of 100 of these buses for a school district compared to 100 standard diesel buses with real world condition and assuming the EV bus company could sell a couple thousand a year to get their volumes up. I could assume SO many different things on this that I have no idea if it's viable or not so we all just pick our favorite side of the argument and the "statistics" that support our view.
        HVH20
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Dave D
        Its viable in volume just like most other things.
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