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Ben Franklin Transit and CCW developing battery-electric remanufactured transit bus

26 January 2013

With the help of a CALSTART grant directed to Washington state by US Senator Patty Murray, Ben Franklin Transit is working with Southern California-based Complete Coach Works (CCW) to develop an all-electric remanufactured transit bus that has the capability of going more than 100 miles.

The Zero Emission Propulsion System (ZEPS) bus will be powered by a 213 kWh Li-ion phosphate battery pack mated with a 90 kW (180 kW peak) motor that develops 650 N·m (479 lb-ft) of torque continuous, 2,300 N·m peak (1,696 lb-ft). Charging takes 4-6 hours, with 3 Phase 480 V and 100A input.

At Ben Franklin Transit we are very happy to be a part of this project. We have been involved in another alternative energy demonstration and we have never been shy about experimenting with applications that make sense for the industry. However, this demonstration project may prove to be the future of electric public transportation for the next generations. We have long thought that the “holy grail” of transportation is a non-polluting, heavy duty, long range battery and electric motor combination. At BFT our Board of Directors and staff are 100% committed to this project and are excited to be a part of our industry’s future.

—Tim Fredrickson, General Manager of Ben Franklin Transit

Macy Neshati, VP of Sales and Marketing at CCW thinks that the topic of zero emission technology in general will only be successful if it is made viable and competitive.

Our research started with a defined goal to develop a remanufactured all-electric transit bus, one which agencies can afford and operate without limitations of adjusting their routes, or installing expensive charging stations. Our Zero Emission Propulsion System, dubbed “ZEPS” for short, is the world’s first and only remanufactured all-electric transit bus.

—Macy Neshati,

Ben Franklin Transit’s bus, when completed, will have all electrical components, auxiliary wiring, seats, air conditioning systems and flooring replaced with new parts. The all-electric drive system, motor, controller and Li-ion battery packs will be installed, as will a new, energy efficient air conditioning system.

Ben Franklin Transit, in collaboration with CCW, evaluated the bus route that will benefit the most from the deployment of the electric transit bus. Ben Franklin Transit Route 23/26 is currently a good fit for this all-electric transit bus. Because of frequent stops within a total 8-mile loop and low average speed, the route provides suitable conditions for the regenerative braking-enabled ZEPS bus.

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"We have long thought that the “holy grail” of transportation is a non-polluting, heavy duty, long range battery and electric motor combination."

Sure - OK.

"zero emission technology in general will only be successful if it is made viable and competitive."

Ya THINK?

So how is this clap-trap, remanufactured arrangement of high dollar;
"all electrical components, auxiliary wiring, seats, air conditioning systems and flooring replaced with new parts.
The all-electric drive system, motor, controller and Li-ion battery packs will be installed, as will a new, energy efficient air conditioning system."

make battery-electric transit buses viable and competitive?

all the components are probably made in China

Wow, so you guys can tell this is a loser from reading a couple of paragraphs with almost no information? I'm impressed.

So why don't you share the details for the rest of us: The overall business case, the cost saved from refurbishing buses considering Ca. has a terrible problem disposing of old buses. The cost of each unit. It's saving in annual maintenance. I'd really love to see your ROI calculations and what assumptions you made in regards to years of service, etc.

Please do share.

No Problem, DD.
Five (5) reasons why this is an expensive (but FUN) thing on which to spend other peoples money – lots of it.

1. It apparently requires the help of a CALSTART grant.
2. It will be a development project, like we still need to spend a ton of money on a prototype of a remanufactured bus made from bastard parts.
3. It will be a demonstration project that may prove to be the future of electric public transportation for the next generations - - or it may not, but it WILL be expensive.
4. It is to be all electric - even though batteries are still expensive.
5. It will have the capability of going more than 100 miles – too expensive and see #4.

http://alttransport.com/2011/02/u-s-says-beijing-air-pollution-is-beyond-measurable/

California 'has a terrible problem disposing of old buses'? Is that OMG terrible people are going to die terrible or ouch I got a paper cut terrible?
Please explain to me why transporting buses a 1000 miles to some place that has has clean air and will be powered with coal is a good idea?

@Kelly

Ben Franklin Transit is in Eastern Washington State not China.

Electric city buses are an excellent solution and they do not have to be powered by e-energy from cheap dirty coal.

USA can produce many times the clean e-energy required for all the one million or so city buses in operation. It is just a matter of choice.

USA could install another 60,000 mega-watt of Hydro power + another 60,000+ mega-watt of wind power. Properly coupled, those two clean e-energy sources could power most of the e-vehicles for the next 20 or 30 years.

Of course, coal lobbies, NG/SG lobbies, Oil lobbies, ICEVs lobbies and sold out politicians will do their out most to block it. That is why class actions against Coal, NG/SG, Oil and ICEVs manufacturers are required. A Presidential Commission is required to the establish where/how politicians get their dirty money and how future elections could be better (cleaner) financed.

ToppaTom,

In other words, your opinion about why this is completely wrong is all you have to go on. You don't have any idea how much they're paying for this, or what the maintenance schedule is like compared to traditional buses, etc.

You have no idea how much the batteries will cost compared to the maintenance that might be saved over the life of the bus. For all you know, the batteries may have to be replaced every three years and make this completely unreasonable or if they can last 10 years and make it a great deal.

You have no idea how much it cost to control pollution in LA using electric buses vs. some other method. You have no idea about anything involved here.

You just want to gripe with no facts whatsoever.

Kit P,
They have graveyards of old buses in California and they've been trying to get rid of the problem by offering incentives or easing up on regulations if you use a refurbished bus.

I don't understand your point: "Please explain to me why transporting buses a 1000 miles to some place that has has clean air and will be powered with coal is a good idea?"

I never advocated moving buses anywhere so I have no idea what you're point is. I was talking about buses being used in California which is already over 20% renewable and climbing.

@DaveD

“They have graveyards of old buses in California ”

You said there was a 'terrible problem' in California. I lived in California for many years I am interested in this 'terrible problem'. If it sound like I am mocking DaveD it is because I am. Does anyone bother to read the articles before commenting? DaveD does not.

Do you know who Patty Murry is? What communities Ben Franklin Transit serve?

Patty Murry is a Washington State Senator. Ben Franklin Transit serve Richland, Kennewick, and Pasco, Washington. I lived there for many years they, the air quality is excellent.

I also checked BPA and increased demand is being met with coal-based generation.

“California which is already over 20% ”

Smoke and mirrors! California imports most of its power from other states.

“You have no idea how much it cost to control pollution in LA ”

One way is by importing power from other states.

California imports less than a quarter of it's electricity smart ass. So explain your statement: "California imports most of its power from other states".

So you're so mathmatically challenged that you think 25% is "most"?

The program is funded by Calstart. I don't care where they run a test, they are doing it for future use in Southern California.

Is it hard being such a jerk-off or do you come by that skill naturally?

75% of California's electricity comes from in state sources. The rest comes from the Pacific Northwest (mostly hydro) and the Southwest (e.g. Hoover Dam.)

Here are the in-state generation stats for California in 2011:

Coal 513 1%
Biomass 1127 2%
Geothermal 2648 4%
Nuclear 4577 6%
Natural Gas 44929 62%
Large Hydro 11973 17%
Small Hydro 1575 2%
Solar 629 1%
Wind 3992 6%
Grand Total 71963

California has a lot of problems, but compared to the rest of the US, the source of their power is not one of them. Cost of the electricity? Yes, that's very high.

I forgot to include my source:
http://energyalmanac.ca.gov/electricity/electric_generation_capacity.html

DaveD is correct, I should not have said most.

“Due to high electricity demand, California imports more electricity than any other State. ”

http://www.eia.gov/beta/state/analysis.cfm?sid=CA


It goes on to say.
“However, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) operates the coal-fired Intermountain power plant in Utah, which delivers almost all of its output to LADWP and other California municipal utilities ”

DaveD says,

“I don't care where they run a test ”

And apparently he does not care where is power is or how is power is made.

Back to me ordinal point. It seem just a little stupid to use diesel fuel to ship buses a 1000 miles to test running them on batteries.

And I should not have said "terrible problem" describing the old bus issues. I know that when I was working with some partners to do a hybrid electric bus in California a few years ago, they were strongly encouraging us to use a refurbished bus because of the problem.

But you're still cherry picking one example with the LADWP plant when there are 1,008 plants within the state generating energy. That is just one example and does not change the facts:
around 25% of Ca. electricity is purchased from out of state and the majority of that is hydro, and that in state, coal only makes up 1% of generation.

As for shipping the bus 1,000 miles, I'm sure that has a lot to do with the fact they had a partner in Washington state that wanted to participate and they are pushing for EVs in many quarters because the majority of Northwestern power is hydro.

This comes down to my *opinion* that EV buses are worth investigating. I have run the numbers for the business case we were doing with the HEV buses and they came out with very positive ROI. We didn't run the numbers on an EV case because the customers we were working with needed a larger range than made sense with a pure EV bus at the time.

DD,
The fact is: taxpayer money is apparently required for part of this – how does it matter, how much?

And who could know the maintenance schedule and the maintenance that might be saved over the life of the bus? It is a development project, they do not know these things yet.

How much the batteries will cost? Same thing; It is a development project, they do not know these things yet, unless they are using today’s prices in which case they are too expensive for them to use in the results of this demo.

When the batteries will have to be replaced? Same thing; It is a development project . . .

And I doubt that anyone but you believes you can control pollution in LA just by using electric buses.

After all of this harping, I hope you have all the details about everything involved here; you claim they are needed for an opinion.

Tell us the details and facts, and we will see how it bears on the rationality of this development project.

Tell us.

ToppaTom,
I'm not the one who came on and blasted this for no reason other than my *opinion*. You did that, not me. I pointed out that you didn't have enough facts to be so negative about it.

I do have a decent idea of what the maintanence and batteries would cost because I had to build a business case around the ROI for HEVs. Not the same beast and I'm not going to pretend it works the same, but it's in the same ball park and so I know it's not impossible.

As for using public money: Yes, it will. Is it worth it? That is TOTALLY a matter of opinion. I believe this is viable and know for a fact that we spend lots of money subsidizing all kinds of energy including drilling. So why should I get upset if a small amount gets spent on this compared to the last 100 years we've subsidized oil, gas and coal?

Again, that is my opinion and you can't change that any more than I can change yours. But at least I am willing to admit these things are my opinion and base that opinion on some related facts I DO know from past hands on experience in this area.

You blasted this story like you had all the facts to back it up and prove it was a total waste of time and money.

By the way, I'd love not to spend ANY consumer money on ANY of these things. But we don't have a level playing field. As long as we're spending money to secure the middle east and oil pipelines and shipping lanes, we will always be spending money to support oil.

I don't remember having to deploy marines to Pennsylvania to protect NG or to New Mexico to defend solar installations from anyone. A large chunk of our military budget goes to maintaining stability in the Middle East so that oil keeps flowing, and more directly to protect pipelines over there and shipping. Why are you not upset about the money and the LIVES we waste on that?

This bus is using Chinese made components by YingTong Group. Another USA grant funding Chinese compagnies.
See Complete Coach website, ZEPS page. YOu'll fin KAM written on the controllers and motor. Google it and it brings you to YingTong Group website.

OK, now using Chinese parts with our funding DOES tick me off. There are plenty of American choices to use for these things if they're going to use American Taxpayer funding.

If this is true then I officially switch sides in this argument.

I thought you did not have the facts and were NOT taking sides when you blasted me for no reason other than my *opinion*.

My experience is that virtually ALL retrofitted buss, truck AND CAR demonstrations/programs, for the last 20 years have proven to be an exercise in futility.

The only thing they demonstrate is that yes you can reduce/eliminate gas consumption by using batteries and electric motors (DUH), but only if money is no object.

When you see that this post is from ToppaTom, please know that it is my opinion. I do not know how to post so that it is allegedly from God, but I am working on it.

I said "if this is true". In other words I still don't have all the facts as I said before. And if it is true then I am simply changing my view because, to me, this over-rides other considerations.

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