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New Flyer 40' and 60' Xcelsior fuel cell buses complete Altoona testing; eligible for FTA, HVIP funding

New Flyer 40' (XHE40) and 60' (XHE60) Xcelsior fuel cell-electric buses (FCEBs), powered by Ballard FCveloCity-HD 85 kilowatt (kW) modules, have completed testing at The Altoona Bus Research and Testing Center under a program established by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

Testing at the Altoona, Pennsylvania facility included evaluations of safety, structural integrity and durability, reliability, performance, maintainability, noise, fuel economy, and braking.

The Xcelsior FCEBs are battery-dominant hybrids, based on the standard Xcelsior CHARGE electric propulsion system. The battery provides the bus with short-term power and energy, while the fuel cell system acts like a steady-state battery charger, operating in an optimal efficiency zone.

The hydrogen fuel cell can extend the range of a battery-electric bus to up to 300 miles on a single refueling and requires no off-board electric recharging.


With this important accomplishment, the FCEBs are commercially available for sale utilizing FTA funding. Both models will also be eligible for California’s Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP).


The current $300,000 HVIP voucher incentive covers 40-foot transit buses and Class 8 trucks powered exclusively by hydrogen fuel cells. Both funding opportunities enable transit agencies to support the transition to zero-emission operations.

New Flyer’s Xcelsior FCEBs offer extended range in excess of 260 miles; rapid refueling with hydrogen in less than 10-minutes; 95% material recycling; and full route flexibility.

New Flyer, along with many major automotive manufacturers, strongly believes that hydrogen and fuel cell technology remains a viable complementary electric propulsion option for clean cities with extended range operations. We celebrate this important milestone in deploying zero-emission bus propulsion technology on a proven, safe, and reliable bus platform.

—Chris Stoddart, President of New Flyer



This bus has a complicated, expensive drivetrain: high pressure storage cylinders that require recertification and replacement at intervals; , a fuel cell electric generator a huge buffering battery and an electric motor drivetrain.....all mounted high in the chassis.
Why not replace all the hydrogen complexity with a large battery as low in the chassis as possible for safety from rollovers?

The advantage of a hydrogen system is the 10 minute fuel refilling time; BEV interests are working on high power fast charging and more energy dense, less costly, batteries to counter.


Proterra already offers Battery Electric transit buses with up to 350 miles of range so I do not see why these buses would be economically attractive when they are more complex and the energy cost is greater.

Sheldon Harrison

The buses will be able to run in northern climes, in the snow, in the heat, on steeply graded roads and they will have lower axle loads and be able to take more passengers all things being equal. In other words, even today they can fully replace diesel or nat. gas units. Until batteries get lighter, these will be issues for such buses. I have read plenty of stories of battery buses not being able to complete their duty cycle because of a hot OR cold day.

There is also the issue of battery performance degeneration is real when vehicles are racking up 10,000 or more miles per month. Individual fuel cell buses have already run for over 20,000 hours which equates to well over 200,000 miles if a 10 mph average speed is assumed. Also to be considered are the requirements re charging infrastructure. Centralized H2 refueling will be easier for large fleets than provision of high speed charging for a similar sized fleet. Even today, LH2 can be delivered and dispensed for about $4 - $5 per kg for present small scale transit demo applications.


SH has excellent points. Current/latest EV batteries do not perform very well in very cold and very hot weather and on longer distances, but FCs do and supply free clean heat and HVAC for drivers and passengers.

An all electric (with 87 -3 types of BEVs including many Tesla-X) Teo Taxis fleet failed because too many hours were required to recharge the vehicles, specially on very cold and very hot days and too many vehicles had to be towed during extended traffic jams. Too many drivers did not adapt (well enough) to EVs limitations.

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