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Champaign-Urbana orders two New Flyer 60' hydrogen fuel-cell buses

The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (MTD) has awarded New Flyer a contract for two hydrogen fuel-cell-electric sixty-foot Xcelsior CHARGE H2 heavy-duty transit buses (for a total of four equivalent units).

MTD is the first in the US to order 60' hydrogen fuel cell buses commercially. The Xcelsior CHARGE H2 is the first sixty-foot fuel cell-electric bus to complete Altoona testing.


Testing at Altoona. Credit: Penn State

The purchase, supported by the Center for Transportation and the Environment, continues to support MTD’s 2014 strategic plan which includes a goal to deliver high quality traditional and innovative transportation services that are safe, reliable, environmentally responsible, and user friendly. Since 1993, New Flyer has delivered 175 buses to MTD; the MTD fleet is currently 85% hybrid.

In July 2019, MTD was awarded a $1.45-million competitive Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grant for the purchase of hydrogen fuel cell electric buses and associated infrastructure.

The Xcelsior CHARGE H2 uses compressed hydrogen as an energy source, as well as an 85 kW Ballard HD85 fuel cell system. The bus has a Siemens 160 kW, 2,400 N·m rear axle drive motor and a ZF electric portal middle axle (ZF/AVE130) with two 125 kW, 11,000 N·m motors.

The fuel cell bus uses a battery-dominant hybrid architecture, in which the batteries are large enough to handle all vehicle performance needs while the fuel cell acts like a continuous battery charger to extend the range of the vehicle.

MTD is the public transportation provider in the Champaign, Urbana, and Savoy regions of Illinois, also serving the University of Illinois. It delivers nearly 12 million rides per year through a full range of mobility services including bus service, ADA paratransit service, rural service, half fare cab, MCORE, the Illinois Terminal, and efforts to encourage walking, biking, and ride sharing.


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