Daimler started to emerge as a leader in the electrification of the larger and heavier segments of ground transportation. They already started delivering the eCanter electric truck and more recently, they unveiled a heavy-duty all-electric truck concept with ‘up to 220 miles’ range.
Now they are leveraging their experience with those projects to unveil their first all-electric school bus.
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Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, unveiled this new bus under its North American subsidiary Thomas Built Buses.
They wrote in a press release:
“Starting in 2019, the “ Saf-T-Liner C2 Electric Bus“ or short „Jouley“ will drive up to 81 kids all over America to school – safely, quietly and emission-free. The 160 kWh battery provides a range of up to 160 kilometers. Additional battery packs are optional and offer a higher range. During the development of the Saf-T-Liner C2 Electric Bus Thomas Built Buses was able to draw upon Daimler’s electric technology resources.”
Based on their use, it would seem that school buses would be a fairly simple mode of transport to electrify, yet, very few of those vehicles are powered by batteries today.
Their routes are generally relatively short and they are often parked for long periods of time as they are not used as intensively as urban transit buses or coaches, which gives them opportunities to charge.
That’s why a range of 100 miles (160 km) is actually quite useful in an electric school bus.
More school bus makers simply need to get behind the technology in order to mass produce it and reduce the cost. When taking into account savings from the cost of operation, I think a lot of fleet operators will find the solution financially viable.
Blue Bird launched its own electric school bus earlier this year and Lion, a Quebec-based school bus manufacturer, also offers an increasingly popular electric school bus. Now Thomas Built Buses reportedly has a market share of 38.7 percent in North America. If they can get their client base to switch to electric propulsion, they could make a big difference.