The Country's Cleanest Yellow School Bus Is All-Electric


Starcraft e-Quest XL electric school bus

Starcraft e-Quest XL electric school bus

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Electric passenger cars get the lion's share of attention, but interest in electrified commercial vehicles is growing as well.

That includes one type of vehicle built for a very important job: carrying children to and from school.

A group of companies are now collaborating to make all-electric school buses a more common sight on U.S. roads.

DON'T MISS: California Launches Country's First All-Electric School Bus (Mar 2014)

Motiv Power Systems plans to market a new electric school bus design through bus dealer Creative Bus Sales, according to Charged EVs.

Called the Starcraft e-Quest XL, the bus will use a body from supplier Starcraft, and a commercial chassis fitted with Motiv Power's own electric powertrain.

Motiv Power sells these powertrains as complete kits that can be fitted to existing commercial-vehicle chassis.

Ford F59 chassis with Motiv Power Systems electric conversion

Ford F59 chassis with Motiv Power Systems electric conversion

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In this case, the chassis is a Ford F59, which is sold without bodywork and usually forms the basis for step vans.

The Starcraft e-Quest XL bus can seat 48, and has a range of 85 miles.

Its makers also claim the onboard battery pack can be recharged to 50-percent capacity in two hours, but did not specify what type of charging equipment is used to accomplish that.

ALSO SEE: 80-Foot Long Electric Bus Concept From Poland: Uses Fuel Cells Too (Jan 2015)

In addition to selling electric powertrains for the Ford F59 chassis, Motiv Power also offers kits for the E-Series van chassis, and the Crane Carrier COE2 cab-over-engine truck chassis.

The company previously collaborated with bus manufacturer SST Trans Tech and the California Air Resources Board to build a single electric bus for California's Kings Canyon Unified School District.

Based on a Ford E-Series chassis, it entered service in 2014 and was billed as the first all-electric school bus operating in the U.S.

Electric school bus from Kings Canyon Unified School District, California

Electric school bus from Kings Canyon Unified School District, California

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For the new bus project--which it plans to be more than a one-and-done affair--Motiv Power will also work with Green Alternative Systems.

That company now converts Ford commercial vehicles to operate on compressed natural gas (CNG) and propane, and will work with Motiv Power's electric powertrains as well.

MORE: Portland Tests BYD K9 All-Electric Passenger Bus: Quick Ride (Jun 2014)

Converting commercial vehicles to electric power can save operators money and reduce emissions from vehicles that spend a lot of time on the road.

But there's an added benefit to electric school buses in particular: The cardiopulmonary systems of the kids who ride them aren't exposed to the harmful diesel-exhaust emissions of traditional school buses.

Perhaps concerned parents will soon demand, "Bring on the e-Buses!"

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