Electric Bus Mania

A new study suggests electric buses, the kind cities buy by the hundreds, are poised for solid growth.

While the South’s automotive manufacturing process is built on cars, trucks and SUVs, there’s another whole range of vehicles being manufactured south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Take New Flyer of America Inc., the largest bus manufacturer in North America, which has a factory in Anniston, Alabama near the Georgia state line.

New Flyer makes 40-foot and 60-foot models of its Xcelsior CHARGE H2 that have successfully completed the Federal Transit Administration’s Model Bus Testing program, meaning that New Flyer is the only manufacturer to offer both fuel cell-electric models that qualify for federal funding, the company says.

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New Flyer in late 2018 opened a $25 million renovation and expansion of its Anniston factory. It was the culmination of $50 million in improvements to the facility over the past two years at the plant, which now employs 750.

Now a new study posted on ResearchAndMarkets.com suggests that the U.S. bus market is seeing a growing preference for depot charge buses, which undergo overnight charging.

Electric buses, the study notes, offer life cycle-cost advantages, as they convert electric energy into motion more efficiently and have comparatively less moving parts.

These factors make them less complicated and cheaper and also facilitate more power generation for propulsion and easy maintenance over the time. Based on these advantages, many local governments in the country are planning to make their bus fleets all-electric in the next few years.

New York City, with the largest bus network in the U.S. at 5,700 buses, aims to be zero-emission electric by 2040. Los Angeles wants to convert its 2,300 buses to electric by 2030.

Suppliers are taking notice. In April 2019, Allison Transmission Inc. unveiled its ABE series, the first e-axle advanced ultra-low floor electric bus powertrain system at the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo. NFI Group Inc. in 2018 won a contract for seven 40-foot battery electric Xcelsior Charge heavy-duty transit buses by the Victor Valley Transit Authority (VVTA).

Other players in the U.S. electric bus market are Blue Bird Corp., GreenPower Motor Co. Inc., COBUS Industries GmbH, ElDorado National California Inc. and Nova Bus Corp.

More about the report can be found here.

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