CaaS provider AMPLY Power announced today that it is partnering with Unique Electric Solutions (UES) to equip school buses and trucks with electrification, charging services, and vehicle-to-grid capabilities. AMPLY Power will oversee the collaboration that also includes Rhombus Energy Solutions with vehicles provided by Logan Bus Company.

AMPLY is a California-based fleet charging infrastructure provider offering a fully managed charging service to the public sector and commercial businesses. The company uses a Charging-as-a-Service (CaaS) approach, covering everything from system design and utility upgrades, to financing, charging infrastructure, and maintenance.

Last year, AMPLY announced a partnership with Logan Bus Company, which is the largest school bus provider for the New York City Department of Education. The goal of this partnership is to electrify Logan’s fleet of ICE buses in the most cost-effective way, while providing the technology and infrastructure to stay relevant. This collaboration will begin with the electrification of five Logan school buses. To aid in transitioning these buses, AMPLY Power has recruited the help of UES and Rhombus.

AMPLY Power to electrify buses with UES, Rhombus

Per today’s press release from AMPLY, it will assume end-to-end responsibility for the charging needs of the Logan school buses as they become electrified. This includes system design, back end software, and site controllers. It has partnered with UES who specializes in converting traditional ICE vehicles to electric powertrains. Furthermore, AMPLY has recruited the help of Rhombus Energy Solutions to help implement vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capabilities on the buses. CEO of AMPLY Power, Vic Shao said:

The future of resilient electric vehicle infrastructure must include V2G capabilities. It can help fleet operators be more energy resilient and achieve greater cost savings while strengthening their local grids. With today’s climate protection goals set by local, state, and federal governments, we need to rapidly replace fossil-fueled vehicles with zero-emission vehicles. This speedy conversion can present issues for organizations that have limited resources. However, the UES re-power option provides fleets with a lower cost and low-risk option to deploy EV.

The higher initial price tags of EVs can deter fleet owners from transitioning from ICE/diesel vehicles, although savings in fuel and maintenance can certainly benefit them in the long run. UES believes its strategy of retrofitting existing chassis with electric powertrains can provide reduced operating costs and zero-emissions to companies like Logan Bus, without them having to purchase a brand new vehicle.

AMPLY Power buses
A Logan Bus being retrofitted with an electric powertrain at a UES facility

V2G bi-directional charging

AMPLY Power also sees an opportunity in the electrification of the school buses to implement V2G capabilities with the help of Rhombus. The company’s CEO Rick Sander elaborates:

To see the massive evolution of bi-directional charging in the US has been a pleasure to witness, and our recent completion of the UL 1741-SA certification for our Rhombus 125kW DC fast charger will meet the needs of fleet operators in a new way that will continue to forge a path to mass fleet electrification. Knowing that our American-made products are pioneering change and ushering in a new era of EV through V2G technology is an honor, and we look forward to doing our part in pushing V2G to the forefront of adoption.

V2G bi-directional charging is on the forefront of electric vehicles moving forward, including many school buses that are becoming more and more electrified each day. Beyond serving as an ESS on wheels, expansive V2G bi-directional charging can help fleets and grids balance their electricity by utilizing one another whenever necessary.

This press release mentions a lot of cooks in one zero-emission kitchen, so here’s how it all breaks down. Logan Bus Company is providing the school buses, of which UES will be converting to electric powertrains. Rhombus Energy Solutions will add bi-directional charging capabilities to the buses making them V2G ready.

AMPLY Power is overseeing the entire operation, as well as providing the fleet software, charging system design and site controllers using its CaaS model. In this sense, AMPLY can help keep utility costs down by optimizing EV charging at both public and private depots.

Electrek’s Take

More electric school buses is something we like to see. Like other companies such as Cummins and Lion Electric, V2G capabilities have become a must in these types of vehicles moving forward. Especially since many school buses spend a majority of the day and every night sitting around.

To not only give these buses zero emissions, but the ability to supply energy back to the grid whenever needed is tremendous. Especially in major metropolitan areas where these EV buses are expanding, such as Los Angeles and New York City.

It’s also interesting to see a company like AMPLY Power working with UES to retrofit buses toward electrification. It’s a cost-savvy move that could help entice other fleet operators to give electrification a shot. Five Logan buses is just a start, but hopefully this CaaS model can help expedite the EV transition. Whatever helps, right?

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