One thousand seven hundred miles up and down the west coast of the United States of America thanks to the battery-powered electric bus by Van Hool, model CX45E. All using only the chargers available to the public. Part of the trip by ABC Companies was done in collaboration with MTRWestern, where they piloted zero-emission travel routes with extremely positive feedback for passengers and drivers.

The demonstration started in Newark, California and ended in Seattle, Washington State, before returning to the starting point. During several legs of the trip, various groups of MTRWestern passengers experienced a unique journey aboard the 100% battery electric Van Hool CX45E, traveling to destinations throughout Northern California and the Pacific Northwest. Due to the extended distance of this demonstration, existing and publicly available charging stations were used along the route. The bus averaged 280 miles of total range between charges over the course of the trip, with some routes far exceeding 300 miles. These ranges, while in commercial operation, are continuing to raise the bar for commercial passenger EVs, and reflect what is available now through ABC companies. This demonstration was also designed to test the feasibility of charging stations along a typical route. Data and learning focused on equipment performance and access to the commercial network. Charging stations were available at regular intervals with plenty of range, although several locations were not designed to easily accommodate larger passenger vehicles. While the chargers were fully capable of recharging the Van Hool CX45E, it is clear that the physical layouts of many stations were not prepared for the pace at which ABC is deploying these unique vehicles in the marketplace. Charging times were shorter than expected, averaging 2.5 to 3 hours, as the vehicle never used more than 65 percent of the available battery on any leg of the trip due to the energy density of the standard Proterra Powered battery packs.

Van Hool electric motor coach ABC

With this leap forward in EV passenger range Roman Cornell, ABC President/Chief Commercial Officer was asked if there were any plans to formally set or announce EV distance records: «Between the almost 1700 miles of total round-trip distance covered, and with some legs of the trip projecting over 300 miles between charges, we were asked multiple times if we should apply for a “world record”. The reality is, we continue to beat our own records as we transport the CX45E and the upcoming Van Hool TDX25E double deck across country utilizing the existing publicly available grid. Our customers who have the CX45E in their fleets also continue to see increases in range as their drivers improve their ability to manage energy usage. We utilize real time telematics measuring everything from energy consumption, charge rates, vehicle performance and more, so we are able to work with our customers and continually improve energy consumption and therefore range. Our continued success with the Proterra Powered electric drivetrain just keeps pushing the current boundaries for zero emissions motorcoach travel, making claims or records, somewhat irrelevant. These coaches perform as stated, period».

Specifically designed for large group transport and travel, the Van Hool CX45E is ABC’s battery electric version of its flagship premium passenger CX45 clean diesel model. Starting with the highly efficient and proven Van Hool CX45 design, the development of an electric version brings a proven package for customers who have begun reducing their fleet carbon emissions. Onboard premium passenger and driver amenities offer enhanced drivability, passenger comfort and performance – all integrated in a zero emissions platform, designed for environmental sustainability.

ABC electric motor coach

Road Test Conditions, Parameters & Results

Traveling at an average speed of 54 mph, through challenging terrain that includes elevations of more than 5,600 feet and with an average temperature of 55 degrees, ABC telematics continuously captures real-time data to measure operator and equipment performance during operation. Key performance indicators, including total kWh consumption, charge rates, kWh regeneration and more, are analyzed against initial projections and compared to thousands of miles of data from other CX45Es already in operation. This demonstration with MTRWestern met and exceeded expectations by providing more quantifiable data for customer-specific applications, allowing operators to make informed decisions and optimize operations. In addition, the bus’s low center of gravity, quiet and nearly noise-free ride provides a premium driving experience with lower operating costs and zero emissions. Even on steep slopes, the CX45E slid easily with moving traffic and used regenerative braking during long downhill braking situations, generating substantial energy that went back into the battery packs further increasing efficiency and range.

Performance Highlights

Round trip averaged an industry leading 280 miles of projected range per charge while in commercial operation; total energy used 3,400 kwh vs 262 gallons of equivalent diesel fuel; significant energy cost savings depending on electric rates at time and location of charge; 2.3 Metric Tons of C02 emissions avoided during demonstration.

Van Hool electric motor coach

«We are thrilled to be among the first operators in the U.S. to offer true zero-emission green travel to our customers”, said Todd Paulson, Director of Operations at MTRWestern. «Our groups were extremely excited to experience EV travel firsthand and their feedback provides critical insight as we test EV integration within our fleet», continued Paulson. «Both passengers and drivers were impressed by the incredibly quiet ride and our drivers were especially pleased with the smooth coach handling and power, particularly during elevation gains. They also reported relative ease-of-use at all charging points». he added. Charging on the grid was easily managed thanks to the 280+ mile range of the CX45E. The CX45E uses a standardized J1772-CCS Type 1 Charger that allowed for maximum flexibility for charging stops over the two-day period. Charging site sizes and layouts generally do not support a commercial vehicle of this size, highlighting the need for future looking charging infrastructure providers to incorporate larger parking spots with wide turning radius or pull through access. As future charging facilities are designed, they should take notice of the advancements in this quickly growing industry as ABC Companies is already transporting these vehicles on the public grid. «The CX45E’s performance over the trip was truly impressive», said Paulson, who finished: «This is a great success that demonstrates the power and reliability of electric transport using the charging eco-system that exists today. ABC’s contribution made this unprecedented journey possible, and we are proud to demonstrate our commitment to pursuing carbon neutral solutions to the industry and our customer base».

«As the network infrastructure continues to expand, we are excited to continue to pioneer the future of electric passenger transportation for larger and smaller groups as fleets demand», said Roman Cornell, ABC’s President/Chief Commercial Officer. «With so many opportunities, from micro-transportation to mobility as a service, contract operations, employee shuttle service, large group tours, charters and more, ABC’s EV strategy is focused on helping customers of all fleet sizes leverage the competitive advantages of zero-emission passenger vehicles. From operational cost savings to new revenue opportunities, ABC is bringing solutions to customers who want to improve their businesses while enhancing the communities where they are based. It’s an exciting time and ABC Companies is proud to lead this revolution in our industry», he added.

ABC electric motor coach van hool

ABC EV Division Helps Operators “Plug Into Savings”

The Van Hool CX45E is offered through ABC’s SVT (Specialty Vehicles & Technologies) division. The SVT division is focused on discovering and bringing innovative solutions and strategies to market that offer transformative mobility options to ABC customers. Focusing on seamlessly onboarding cutting edge products and technologies to ensure smooth operations from day one, the SVT team is rapidly emerging as the leading provider committed to simplifying EV fleet integration for private and public operations. As ABC actively onboards new clients, a focus on education, training, equipment operation and infrastructure guidance are featured components of the company’s proprietary “Plug into Savings” program, which was launched in 2020.

«Working and testing with forward thinking companies like MTRWestern, allows ABC to continue refining our industry exclusive “Plug into Savings” electric vehicle onboarding program. Between the training, real time monitoring, charger interoperability, energy use strategies and more, the program takes the complexity away from the customer, so they can focus on the immediate benefits of zero emission vehicles in their fleets», said Thom Peebles, Vice President, ABC Companies.


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