Partnership develops first fully electric school bus

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Updated Oct 30, 2013
MOTIV POWER SYSTEMS TRANS TECH/MOTIV SST-E
The Trans Tech/Motiv SST-e all-electric school bus can save a school district about 16 gallons of fuel a day, or around $11,000 in fuel savings over a year. This Type A bus has a passenger capacity of up to 32 students, or 24 students and 1 wheelchair. (PRNewsFoto/Motiv Power Systems)

Trans Tech Bus and Motiv Power Systems have partnered to construct a new all-electric Type A school bus.

The SST-e is expected to hit the road in 2014.

The first all-electric school bus developed in the partnership will go to Kings Canyon Unified School District, in the San Joaquin Valley of Calif. The bus is funded in part by the California Air Resources Board AB 118 Air Quality Improvement Program Electric School Bus Demonstration Project.

“An electric bus can save a school district about 16 gallons of fuel a day, or around $11,000 in fuel savings over a year, not to mention maintenance savings,” says John Phraner President of Trans Tech. 

The new SST-e bus will be revealed today at the 2013 National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) Annual Summit inGrand Rapids.

The buses are built on Ford E450 chassis, utilizing the all-battery, all-chassis compatible Motiv electric Powertrain Control System (ePCS). The ePCS is installed as a Ford ship-through chassis modification similar to a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) modification, enabling minimal changes between the fossil fuel and electric versions of the school buses. Passenger capacity for the Trans Tech/Motiv SST-e all-electric school buses is up to 32 students for a Type A bus, or 24 students and 1 wheelchair.

The ePCS allows buses to be compatible with any battery currently on the market. Additionally, one pack can be replaced without replacing all the batteries on the vehicle. The new all-electric SST-e school buses are available with four or five battery packs, providing districts with range options of 80 or 100 miles.

With Motiv’s onboard fast charging technology the buses can reach 50 percent charge in under an hour and full charge in 8 hours. Motiv’s 3-phase fast charging requires minimal building modifications and no charging stations. The buses are also equipped with telemetry systems, providing real-time route data and preventive maintenance reports to fleet managers. The cloud stored data can be viewed on the web and on smart phones, helping them manage improved driver performance and safety management. 

“Our system is battery agnostic, it ‘future-proofs’ fleets against changes in the battery market, such as discontinued batteries or future improved technology,” says Jim Castelaz Founder and CEO of Motiv.