COLUMBUS, Ohio – IC Bus expects to launch its new ChargE electric school bus as early as 2019, the manufacturer announced at the open of the National Association for Pupil Transportation trade show.
The concept bus developed in partnership with Volkswagen Truck & Bus, which owns a stake in IC Bus parent company Navistar, offers a range of about 120 miles and an equivalent of 349 hp. The IC Bus ChargE will join at least six other large and small electric school bus models already announced by other manufacturers.
Addressing the fears of many student transporters that acqusition costs of electric power are too high, Trish Reed, vice president and general manager of IC Bus, pointed out on Tuesday that battery costs have dropped about 14 percent a year for the past 15 years as IT and energy companies have increased their investments in electrification. This, she said, is expected to make the price point of new electric school buses compatible with diesel by 2025.
Additionally, Reed said the electric operating cost of about $300 per kW hour is forecasted to drop to between 110 and 130 kW hour in the next eight years.
She added that electric cars also use an estimated 1/100th of the moving parts of a traditional internal combustion engine vehicle, which will also eventually drive down the acquisition and operational cost of electric school buses.
“We believe electric power will be a viable solution for school bus customers,” she told NAPT attendees.
Reed added that the ChargE will continue testing throughout 2018, and a company spokesman added this will include bringing the bus to school districts for field demonstrations.
The ChargE front hood is seven inches lower than other IC Bus conventional school buses because the engine compartment is no longer needed, a company spokesman said, which gives drivers increased visability. He added that up to two additional batteries can be stored in the space.
The ChargE can be powered by a total of six batteries depending on payload and school district usage.
The new school bus is also outfitted with LED lights, an internal configurable driver display and forward-facing cameras that give school bus drivers a nearly 360-degree view inside and outside the school bus.