ABC bus tour shows challenges of public EV charging infrastructure

ABC Companies recently completed its recent Phase II Zero Emissions Cross Country Tour, “Charge On America” driven by Peoria Charter. 

Piloted by James Wang, of Peoria Charter, the “Charge On America” tour departed from ABC’s  Newark, California, facility on July 26, covering over 2,800 miles, charging at public stations along the way, and arriving at ABC headquarters in Wintergarden, Florida, on Aug. 7. 

The entire trip was documented on the “Motorcoach World” YouTube channel, which Wang began and which has over 28,000 followers from around the globe. Joined by co-driver Dennis Utley, also from Peoria Charter, and four family members, the voyagers experienced first-hand the unique benefits and challenges of battery-electric travel. 

Impressive stats

Despite grueling weather conditions, including triple-digit temps and, moreover, interoperability, availability and capacity issues within the public infrastructure grid, the Van Hool TDX25E 45-foot double-deck coach posted impressive stats throughout the journey. 

As captured by real-time telematics, the vehicle met or exceeded all parameters along the route, including projected mileage of 285 miles per full charge, based on 2.14 kWh per mile. Thirty-four charging sessions were recorded for a total of 69 charging hours. The trip consumed 6,419 kW and reduced carbon monoxide emissions by 9,842.7 pounds versus a comparable clean diesel motorcoach traveling the same route.  

“The Van Hool double-deck EV coach performed beautifully throughout the entire trip,” said Wang, “offering a smooth, quiet, comfortable and spacious ride for my fellow driver and both of our families. Our biggest hurdle was finding dependable charging for a vehicle of this size, as these coaches are typically used for regional service. This cross-country challenge underscored the need for a more reliable, robust and strategically available public charging system that can accommodate medium and heavy commercial equipment like the Van Hool TDX25E.” 

Charging depot issues

It was also noted that most charging depots along the route are simply not designed for larger vehicles, creating access and maneuverability issues, and wait times for other vehicles. 

“Even an electric pickup pulling a trailer would be hard-pressed to use these charging depots,” said Wang. “In many instances, the chargers were not operational, and this was reinforced by countless encounters of passenger cars experiencing the same issues as the motorcoach. The lack of reliability meant we would rarely go below 50% charge for fear we would arrive at a charging station that was inoperable and need to travel farther.” 

Relying solely on the public grid for charging needs, the ABC Companies “Charge On America” tour experienced innumerable challenges at stops along the route. While technically advanced high-capacity EVs like the TDX25E have enormous potential to reduce carbon emissions, it is difficult to envision broad EV adoption for operators who need to travel longer distances utilizing the public charging ecosystem. 

“Our vehicle technology is in place for EV adoption,” said Thom Peebles, VP Marketing at ABC Companies. “However, our road tests are proving, again and again, the disparity between EV equipment readiness and a consistent, reliable charging experience using the existing grid.”

As ABC set out to demonstrate on this cross-country challenge, there is much room for improvement.  With insights and data compiled from the tour, ABC is focused on increasing awareness about the growing need for future public investment in EV infrastructure for medium and heavy-duty equipment. ABC continues to see strong demand in EV sales, as it also continues to offer clean diesel for operators needing the flexibility to travel outside routine routes and to cover long distances over the road. 

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