Enova Systems has entered into a joint Hybrid-Electric School Bus program with a major North American Truck Manufacturer.
The School Bus project will feature Enova’s post-transmission 80-kW Hybrid Drive System and has the potential to lead to future production 2006 and beyond. A prototype is scheduled to be completed before 31 December 2005.
The partner currently sells some 60,000 school buses per year in the US, according to Enova.
Hybrid-Electric School Buses haven’t received a great deal of publicity, but there is some industry attention focused on the area.
Both Thomas Built Buses (which is a subsidiary of Freightliner, itself in turn a subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler) and International Truck and Engine Corporation are Advisory Board members for the Hybrid Electric Bus Project, which was formed in 2003 in North Carolina, is run by Advanced Energy, and received both state and federal funding this year.
Advanced Energy advocates a hybrid-electric school bus project as the pilot program for four reasons:
The duty cycle of school buses makes them an ideal candidate for hybrid technology, particularly plug-in hybrid technology.
Hybrid bus technology, especially plug-in hybrids, dramatically reduce the environmental impacts of school buses by:
- improving the efficiency of energy use resulting in fewer emission per mile;
- replacing mobile sources with stationary central power plant sources, that are already much cleaner and easier to control (plug-in); and
- moving emissions from daylight hours to night time hours, reducing the creation of ozone and smog (plug-in).
Hybrid school buses are not available on the market. The technology, however, has been demonstrated on transit buses. In addition to researchers and public interest entities, moving this technology into the market for school buses will require the involvement of bus operators, bus manufacturers and vendors to the bus manufacturers who can provide the necessary technology.
In North Carolina of all miles driven by buses, roughly 78% of those miles are school bus miles.
The current Enova school bus project is not a plug-in project: the post-transmission parallel hybrid architecture doesn’t offer an electric-only mode. But a visible application of a hybrid drivetrain in a school bus could begin to move things along.