ABC Companies has launched Phase II of its zero-emissions cross-country tour, which departed this week from its facility in Newark, California.
The ABC “Charge on America” tour follows Phase I, a previous series of cross-country road test demonstrations of the Van Hool CX45E and TDX25E 100% battery electric premium motorcoaches, as well as several fully electric cutaway shuttles and vans.
Using publicly available charging stations along the test routes, the EV coaches and units have logged thousands of miles while enduring variable road conditions, climate conditions and elevation gains – meeting projections for range, commercial charging capability, energy recovery, and more.
The Phase II tour departed from ABC’s Newark location bound for company headquarters in Winter Garden, Florida. During the 2,785-mile coast-to-coast journey, ABC will test its fully electric Van Hool TDX25E 45-foot double deck coach, equipped with a Proterra battery system.
Will explore charging infrastructure
The cross-country trip is designed to create awareness for ABC’s portfolio of electric vehicles, which have capacities ranging from eight to 75 passengers. Moreover, by relying exclusively on public chargers throughout the route, the tour will examine the need for dedicated commercial passenger vehicle charging infrastructure specifically designed for heavy-duty electric vehicles.
Many operators who currently run high-capacity EVs have experienced the limitations and challenges of the existing system. The ABC “Charge on America” tour aims to collect public charging infrastructure data and identify areas for improvement.
To further demonstrate the viability of battery-electric motorcoaches and to gain customer feedback while pushing the vehicles beyond their intended use on regional routes, ABC Companies CEO Roman Cornell issued this cross-country tour challenge to its clean-diesel coach customer, Peoria Charter, based in Peoria, Illinois. Specifically, the challenge was directed to James Wang, who is employed by Peoria Charter and began the highly popular YouTube channel Motorcoach World.
“After seeing how James and his Motorcoach World channel were trying to objectively educate the industry on various technologies, motorcoaches, and trends, I knew James was the man for the job,” Cornell said. “He is not afraid to provide an authentic review, and he will share the good, the bad, and even the ugly, but always in an objective way, through the lens of a motorcoach operator.”
‘Provide the facts’
Cornell added that with electric Van Hool motorcoaches making up over 20% of his company’s deliveries by the end of this year, “we need more people like James to provide the facts about what these EVs can and, just as importantly, cannot do.
“Our zero-emissions vehicles can be game changers in the right applications. However, the versatility and reliability of our clean-diesel Van Hool motorcoaches, along with their range, based on their exceptional fuel efficiency, means they will continue to be the workhorses for most of our motorcoach customers who need to cover long distances between extended stops.”
The trip is about more than the vehicles, he added. It also is about raising awareness for desperately needed public charging infrastructure that can handle a 45-foot motorcoach, or other medium or heavy commercial vehicles.
“With so much federal funding earmarked for infrastructure designed to accelerate the use of EVs, we have become acutely aware that there is not nearly enough awareness or focus on large commercial vehicles that will have to rely on publicly available charging. The vehicles are there, but the infrastructure is not,” Cornell said.
“James and his Motorcoach World YouTube channel, along with our continued efforts through the ABC Companies zero-emissions tour, will help amplify this need until we can get more organizations and governments focused on addressing this growing need.”
Wang and his colleague Dennis Utley will be accompanied by Wang’s wife and two young daughters, and Dennis’ wife.
“While we have made several cross-country trips before, this is the first that also includes passengers,” said Thom Peebles, Vice President of Marketing for ABC Companies, “James and the crew will be live streaming each day for a brief period, giving followers the opportunity to follow along his journey.”
“We already know the coach is completely capable of making the trip as it has several times before, but the variable is always the charging infrastructure. James and his channel will help share what works and what does not work when it comes to charging, and this sharing of the experience will no doubt bring critical awareness to the need for publicly available heavy commercial vehicle charging infrastructure.”
In addition to the daily live streams, James will provide post-trip coverage via Motorcoach World and on his YouTube channel.
The Van Hool TDX25E tour vehicle is equipped with Starlink to deliver broadband internet capable of supporting the streaming planned for the tour. This installation is part of the field testing of the system being conducted by ABC Companies.