TORRANCE, Calif. — SCHOOL BUS FLEET presented a live Web seminar on July 12 about the future of hybrid diesel-electric buses in pupil transportation. Editor Steve Hirano moderated the discussion, which included panelists from IC Corporation, Enova Systems and Advanced Energy.
The one-hour seminar, which attracted approximately 300 viewers from all over North America, focused on the new plug-in hybrid school bus that has been delivered to seven school districts and contractors around the country. Nine to 12 more hybrid buses are set for delivery later this year.
The vehicle, built by IC Corporation on its CE (conventional) platform, is expected to generate up to 70 percent improvement in fuel economy over a traditional diesel counterpart. It also provides significant reduction in tailpipe emissions.
David Hillman, marketing director for IC Corporation, said the plug-in hybrid system that's being offered in the CE is well ahead of the curve for school buses — and all other vehicles. "We have implemented technology that is beyond what is even available in cars," he said. "Our industry can be excited and proud about that."
The plug-in hybrid uses a charge-depleting lithium-ion battery system, which means it should be recharged overnight for optimal fuel economy.
According to Ewan Pritchard, hybrid program manager at Raleigh, N.C.-based Advanced Energy, the cost of recharging the battery pack is approximately 60 cents per equivalent gallon of diesel fuel.
Bill Frederiksen, chief engineer for Enova Systems, which manufactured the hybrid drive system, explained that the vehicle's power comes from a blend of the electric motor and IC's diesel engine, reducing fossil fuel consumption and emissions.
Randy Ray, product marketing manager for IC Corporation, said the hybrid bus is equipped with multiple safety systems and requires little routine maintenance beyond periodic checking of the coolant fluid level.
The hybrid bus currently sells for about $220,000, but Pritchard said the price will come down considerably when manufacturing volume increases. He also provided viewers with suggestions on how to obtain supplemental procurement funding.
An archived version of the seminar, which generated more than 100 questions from attendees, is available for viewing. To view the presentation, go to www.schoolbusfleet.com/webseminars/July07.