I still see a problem with range anxiety for school buses.
Looking at rural America, what if the fleet of electric school buses plugged into their overnight charging stanchions either at school or more likely in the dooryards of the bus drivers have no commercial power due to an overnight storm? Weather is fine the next morning but school might have to be cancelled since most children may be without reliable bus service.
And what about communities whose nuclear power plant evacuation plans include moving children out of the danger zone via school buses whose mid-day charge might prove insufficient for the unexpected route change and interrupted charging supply?
Beth, actually the issue is the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of a system like this. For new technologies like electric and natural gas driven vehicles (I know these aren't really new, just coming back) this type of application is perfect. I have long advocated that these technologies be mandated for government entities, where appropriate, as a first step. But, the TCO first. Electric vehicles do not need the maintenance that conventional vehicles do. They also do not use diesel fuel, which fluctuates wildly in cost. So, while the article did not give us enough information to make a final determination, there is a good chance that this could be the case. School districts often purchase captial equipment through bond issues, therefore spreading out the cost, so that might not be as big a deal either.
As for the use of these technologies by government agencies, I think that is a great way for the government toevaluate and prove new technologies without mandating them for the private economy. Often local governments have their own refueling infrastructure and their vehicles operate in a limited geography. Thus, if the technology is useful, this helps build an industrial base for it and gives valuable information to potential future users. If it really works, then the private economy will adopt it.
Very interesting concept, Chuck, and I think it demonstrates the kind of engineering thinking and focus on efficiency solutions that we need more of. It will be interesting to see how much the cost premium is versus diesel-based buses.
Wow, what a great idea for applying EV technology. The fact that school bus routes (and even inner city bus routes) have specific routines with little opportunity for variation do make them strong candidates for EV transportation. Problem is what the problem always is: Cost. School systems don't have the budgets to fund these type of vehicles and while many schools sub out bus transportation to private providers, the question is whether they could sustain any additional cost associated with not only the new vehicles, but the infrastructure that would have to go in place to handle the nightly charging.
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From design feasibility, to development, to production, having the right information to make good decisions can ultimately keep a product from failing validation. The key is highly focused information that doesn’t come from conventional, statistics-based tests but from accelerated stress testing.
There’s a good chance that a few of the things mentioned here won't fully come to fruition in 2015 but rather much later down the line. However, as Malcolm X once said, "The future belongs to those who prepare for it today."
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