Flipping the Switch on Electric School Buses: Vehicle Requirements: Module 1 (Text Version)

This is a text version of the video for Flipping the Switch on Electric School Buses: Vehicle Requirements: Module 1.

Welcome to Part 3 of the series of Flipping the Switch on Electric School Buses, where we will discuss electric school bus vehicle requirements. The Flipping the Switch series contains a number of parts on electric school bus technical assistance. This is currently where we are at in the series. In the upcoming parts we'll discuss vehicle requirements; charging infrastructure; infrastructure planning and solutions; vehicle in-use performance; training for both drivers and technicians; and, finally, cost factors. Part 3 of Flipping the Switch series, "Electric School Bus Vehicle Requirements," consists of three modules. Module 1, which is the module we're going to talk about today, provides information on currently available electric school bus vehicle models and vehicle cost factors. Module 2 will discuss how to analyze your vehicle routes to determine if electric is a good option for your fleet, vehicle range, and efficiency considerations. And finally, Module 3 will provide information on incentives, battery life, and other considerations like battery recycling.

Now let's dive into Module 1 of the "Electric School Bus Vehicle Requirements, Vehicle Models and Cost Factors." Currently, all the major school bus manufacturers offer an electrified version of a school bus within their platforms. Bus sizes can range from the smaller type As to the larger type Cs and Ds. Buses vary in rate of charging that they will be able to accept, range on a given charge, as well as seating capacity, so it's best to contact the manufacturer for their specifications and what works best for your fleet. These specifications that are listed on this chart were accurate at the time of publication. Some items may have changed since then, though, so once again, it is important to contact the manufacturer for the EV bus you're looking to purchase to obtain their most current specifications. The Alternative Fuels Data Center medium- and heavy-duty guide is also a great resource for the most up-to-date offerings. Note the Thomas bus is only capable of utilizing DC fast charging for their buses because they do not have an on-board charger. Therefore, they do not offer level two charging as an option. We will discuss this technology later in Part 4 of our series that talks about the different types of charging infrastructure that are available, and how to choose the appropriate infrastructure based on your vehicle selection.

What are some of the common questions when it comes to the purchase of an electric school bus? These include questions like: What is the average cost of the bus? How does the cost change with various battery options? How does this compare with traditionally fueled buses? What should I expect for maintenance costs with my new electric school bus? And do vehicle-to-grid, or V2G, capabilities affect the cost of the bus? All of these items we'll go into here shortly.

Average cost – the big piece, right? Based on 2019 and 2020 data from 35 data points, battery electric buses cost almost four times of their diesel school bus counterpart, about $388,000, $400,000 versus $100,000. Many items factor into this cost and can provide for a wide range of considerations when you're looking at your bus purchase. These prices are based on the average cost of a type C and D bus, so understand that A is not part of this price equation. Cost variations include things like battery capacity, charging capabilities, heating and air conditioning options. The range of your bus will be determined on the size of the battery you choose to equip your battery with. Larger battery capacity increases the vehicle cost but reduces the reliance on expensive fast charging. How will your buses be charged? Will they be able to utilize level two charging, or do they need DC fast charging? Will they be only able to charge on a level two, or will they only be able to charge on DC fast? These all have an effect. Will your bus be equipped with vehicle-to-grid capability? All of these can affect your cost. What type of telematics would you like to use, and what would you like to have your bus equipped with when you are looking at your telematics? Will you need some type of supplemental heating or cooling for your EV bus? This can have an effect as well. All these options will affect the cost of the bus.

Operations and maintenance: Manufacturers predict as much as 85% lower cost to maintain your electric bus. However, there really isn't much real-world data out there available to quantify this. It is anticipated, though, that maintenance costs will be lower. However, more data for EV buses in actual service is needed to understand their long-term costs.

Key takeaways: All major original equipment manufacturers are now offering EV school buses. Check your local regulations to ensure the bus that you are considering purchasing conforms to these local standards. EV buses can be ordered in type A, C, or D configurations, depending on the need for your fleet. Remember that range is dependent on multiple factors, and work with your OEM to obtain the most current information. As with traditional buses, options can vary the price of the bus considerably. The big item with an electric bus is the size of the battery pack, and then followed up by the type of charging the bus will take. EV school buses have only been on the road for the past few years. Technology continues to change and evolve, so educate yourself on the different options that are available to you. This will help you stay current on the latest developments in electric school buses and ensure a smooth transition towards electrifying your school bus fleet.

Thank you for listening that concludes Module 1 of Part 3 of Flipping the Switch series, "Electric School Bus Vehicle Requirements." To complete the modules in Part 3 of the series, continue to listen to Modules 2 and 3, where we will discuss how to analyze your vehicle routes to determine if electric is a good option for your fleet, vehicle range and efficiency considerations, and provide information on incentives, battery life, and other considerations. You can find the content for Flipping the Switch on Electric School Bus series, including each part of the series and associated modules, as well as handouts with summary information and links to all of the resources mentioned today, on the Alternative Fuels Data Center Electric School Bus page.