Flipping the Switch on Electric School Buses: Cost Factors: Module 1 (Text Version)

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

Welcome to Part 8 of the Flipping the Switch on Electric School Buses series, where we will discuss electric school bus cost factors. 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 electric school bus cost factors.

Part 8 of the Flipping the Switch series, Electric School Bus Cost Factors, consists of five modules. Module 1, which is the module we're talking about today, provides information on bus capital costs and infrastructure costs. Module 2 will discuss electric school bus operational costs. Module 3 will discuss electric school bus maintenance costs. Module 4 will review electric school bus incentives and financing options, and finally Module 5 will provide information on how to have financing discussions.

Now let's dive into Module 1 of Electric School Bus Cost Factors, Bus Capital Costs and Infrastructure Costs. As with most fleet electrification efforts the first cost to consider is the capital cost of the electric bus itself. Although the cost of electric school buses currently exceeds typical internal combustion engine options there are indicators that suggest this will change. The discrepancy between electric and combustion buses is primarily a result of the battery cost and manufacturing economies of scale.

The difference between battery electric and combustion buses is most significant for buses with the larger batteries and increased driving ranges. However, the electric school bus market is expected to see a trending reduction in bus capital costs similar to the change in transit buses displayed in the chart. Average electric transit bus costs are currently just under $400,000, but this represents a significant decrease of over 35% from just over a decade ago when most electric transit bus costs exceeded $1.2 million. As the electric school bus industry matures and the cost of batteries decreases electric school bus capital costs are projected to decrease just as transit buses have.

In conclusion current electric school bus costs average around $400,000, which is typically higher than combustion bus operations. This discrepancy is most prominent in battery electric buses with larger batteries but is predicted to continue decreasing as the market matures. However, in order to supply the energy battery electric buses require it's also important to consider the infrastructure costs for the necessary charging equipment.

These infrastructure costs typically consist of two key elements, unit costs and installation costs. The unit cost encompasses the EVSE or charging device. These costs are typically higher for more powerful devices and units with network connectivity, while dual port units provide a more economical option compared to single port EVSE. Installation of these units will cover a wide range of considerations including the wiring and conduit, service panels, and possible distribution upgrades, as well as the labor for construction. These costs will be dependent on how many EVSE are installed and where they are placed, as well as the remaining capacity in the existing facility and utility equipment.

There are many different factors that impact the cost of a charging station, which can range from as low as $596 per port for the lowest power simple dual port level one station to as high as $140,000 for a 350 kW single port DC fast charger. As the chart on the top right shows the cost per port increases as the power level increases, and additional features such as network connection are added. Additionally level two units are only marginally more costly than a level one unit. However all of the DC fast charging units have a much higher per port cost, while also providing much more power than AC level one or two charging. Finally, with all units where a dual port option is available the cost per port on those units is lower than with a similar single port option.

Because EVSE installation costs are also dependent on EVSE type and power it is generally recommended that fleets install dual port level two units, which provide the energy most electric school buses will require in a typical eight hour dwell period, while also ensuring the optimal unit cost per port. As with other similar projects there are also some economies of scale to be gaining when installing multiple EVSE at a single site.

The primary cost components of EVSE installation such as labor, materials, permitting, and taxes tend to vary as more units are installed at a single location. However, as can be seen in the table at the top right the lowest installation costs per port are generally at sites where more than six EVSE ports are installed at once. As a result it is also best practice for fleets to plan ahead when installing EVSE and install enough charging to support current and future electrification goals. For more information on choosing the best charging technology and which buses are capable of receiving an AC level charge, please refer back to Part 4 of the series.

In conclusion EV infrastructure costs are comprised of both the EVSE unit and installation costs. The unit costs vary for many different features, but level two dual port units will be the most economical option for a typical electric school bus fleet. The installation of these units will benefit from economies of scale with reducing costs as more are deployed at one location, suggesting fleets should also plan for the future when installing EVSE.

Thank you for listening. That concludes Module 1 of Part 8 of the Flipping the Switch series Electric School Bus Cost Factors. To complete the modules in Part 8 of this series continue on to listen to Modules 2 through 5.

You can find all the content for the Flipping the Switch on Electric School Buses series including each part of the series and associated modules, as well as handouts with the summary of information and links to all the resources mentioned today on the Alternative Fuels Data Center's Electric School Bus page.