Van Hool North American importer ABC Companies, recently completed a long-distance road trip along with customer Pacific Northwest-based charter bus and shuttle operator MTRWestern. ABC Companies supplied a new battery-electric Van Hool CX45E coach for the long-distance road test. The demonstration run made a round trip of nearly 1,700 miles. Starting in Newark, California the coach travelled to Seattle, Washington and back, using existing publicly available charging stations along the route.
The coach averaged 280 miles of projected range between charges over the course of the trip, with some legs projecting well in excess of 300 miles. ABC said that as well as proving the viability of electric coaches, the demonstration was also designed to test the viability of charging stations along a typical route. Some of the chargers used were not designed to readily accommodate larger passenger vehicles, it found, although they were capable of recharging the coach.
Charging times were said to be shorter than projected, averaging 2.5 to 3 hours, as the vehicle never used more than 65% of the available charge in its Proterra Powered battery packs.
ABC President and Chief Commercial Officer said: “Between the almost 1,700 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 utilising 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 use 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.”
Total energy used during the trip was 3,400kWh, which ABC said was the equivalent of 262 gallons of equivalent diesel fuel, and 2.3 metric tons of CO2 emissions were avoided.
“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 first hand and their feedback provides critical insight as we test EV integration within our fleet. 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.”