GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Type A school bus manufacturer Trans Tech Bus has partnered with Motiv Power Systems to develop a new all-electric school bus, which will be revealed at the National Association for Pupil Transportation’s (NAPT) trade show here on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The SST-e was funded in part by the California Air Resources Board AB 118 Air Quality Improvement Program Electric School Bus Demonstration Project, and the first of these buses will go to California’s Kings Canyon Unified School District and hit the road in 2014, officials said.

The bus is built on a Ford E-450 chassis, utilizing the all-battery, all-chassis compatible Motiv electric Powertrain Control System (ePCS).The ePCS is installed as a Ford ship-through chassis modification similar to a compressed natural gas modification, enabling minimal changes between the fossil fuel and electric versions of the school buses.  

Passenger capacity for the Trans Tech/Motiv SST-e all-electric school buses is 30 students, or 24 students and one wheelchair.

“An electric bus can save a school district about 16 gallons of fuel a day, or around $11,000 in fuel savings over a year, not to mention maintenance savings,” said John Phraner, president of TransTech. “We are very excited to continue to help school districts reduce their transportation budgets and are committed to opening the market for the all-electric school bus.”

The Motiv ePCS is compatible with a wide variety of chassis and batteries, officials said. The ePCS allows buses to be compatible with any battery currently on the market or available in the future. Additionally, one pack can be replaced without replacing all the batteries on the vehicle. The SST-e school buses are available with range options of 80 or 100 miles.

Additionally, with Motiv’s onboard fast charging technology, the buses can reach 50% charge in under an hour and full charge in eight hours. Motiv's low-cost, three-phase fast charging requires minimal building modifications and no expensive charging stations. The bus is also equipped with telemetry systems, providing real-time route data and preventive maintenance reports to fleet managers. The cloud-stored data can be viewed on the web and on smartphones, helping to manage driver performance and safety.  

“Our system is battery agnostic — it 'future-proofs' fleets against changes in the battery market, such as discontinued batteries or future improved technology,” said Jim Castalez, founder and CEO of Motiv. “This makes a Motiv-equipped bus the most flexible and customizable all-electric powertrain for trucks on the market. We are thrilled the ePCS will be assisting schools get the most out of their transportation dollars, while at the same time educating children on clean transportation.”

The SST-e will be at Trans Tech Bus’ booth, No. 129, during the NAPT trade show.  

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