Electric double-deck Van Hool completes cross-country road trip 

A battery-electric Van Hool TDX25E double-decker motorcoach successfully completed a cross-country road trip, demonstrating the vehicle range and strength of battery technology to meet the needs of motorcoach customers, according to ABC Companies.

ABC, the North American distributor of Van Hool, made the road trip, which began at ABC’s headquarters in Winter Garden, Florida, and ended at ABC’s Costa Mesa, California, facility.

This is the company’s longest EV road test demonstration to date, surpassing a recently conducted 1,700-mile road test throughout the Northern California and Pacific Northwest region. The route included elevations in excess of 5,000 feet, passage through mountain crossings, and a variety of road and climate conditions over a distance of 2,500 miles.

The new EV double-deck model completed the journey over six days, utilizing public charging stations along the route. Similar to the CX45E vehicles in commercial operation, the TDX25E met projections for range, commercial charging capability and energy recovery.

EV demand is strong 

The TDX25E production vehicle used in the demo is the first of its kind in North America, developed with and brought to market by ABC to meet customer demand for higher-capacity, zero-emissions transport.  

The 56-passenger CX45E, introduced in 2020, provided the inspiration and the impetus for fast-track development and deployment of the TDX25E, according to Roman Cornell, ABC’s President and Chief Commercial Officer.

“Demand for these vehicles is very strong in many markets, and our technology partners, Van Hool and Proterra, have clearly demonstrated their ability to translate those demands into real-world solutions that can quickly integrate into fleets and provide reliable, repeatable results,” he said in a statement.

The premium TDX25E double-deck passenger coach is the battery-electric version of the eco-friendly, high-capacity TDX series. With premium accommodations and amenities for up to 69 passengers, the TDX25E increases passenger capacity to further reduce traffic congestion and emissions, while providing industry-leading range in an ADA-compliant model designed for exceptional comfort, functionality and style. 

Real-time data

The 45-foot coach integrates the industry-leading energy-dense battery system from Proterra, with a Siemens ELFA II powertrain to provide a quiet, smooth zero-emissions ride and plenty of power for efficient, dependable operation. ABC Companies Fleet Electrification Services captured real-time data for the duration of the trip. The TDX25E averaged an impressive 2.08kWh/mile for highway travel. 

Capable of a 71 mph top speed, the coach averaged 60 mph during the demonstration. The total projected range per charge averaged 260 miles during the trip, while temperatures varied from 40 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The charging rate of up to 147 kWh enabled relatively short charging times, averaging just 3.5 hours. With a total storage capacity of 676 kWh, the coach never fell below an 8% state of charge during the trip.  

Van Hool
ABC Companies’ battery-electric Van Hool TDX25E double-decker motorcoach

“Response to our electrified vehicle lineup has been quite enthusiastic,” said Thom Peebles, ABC’s Vice President of Marketing. “Customers are very impressed with the ride quality, amenities and range of these vehicles, and as organizations commit to reducing their carbon footprint, high passenger capacity EV models like the TDX25E and CX45E are becoming an increasingly important option for fleet operators.”

Empire Coach Line provided the driver for the TDX25E cross-country demonstration. 

“Our drivers and staff have been amazed by the performance, comfort and smooth, quiet ride of these coaches while being able to quickly acclimate to operating these vehicles. From the simple charging process to the familiar driver controls and support ABC offers, integrating these electric vehicles has been much smoother than we thought possible,” said Eddie Serrano, Vice President and General Manager of Empire.

Holistic approach to EV

ABC says its holistic approach to fleet electrification gives owners a clear vision of how to integrate EV into their operations. Fleet integration, passenger capacity needs, available charging windows, EV infrastructure and more help ABC guide owners to EV options that offer a right fit for existing and future fleet operation. 

“We’re having great success with our approach to EV integration with public and private operators,” Cornell said. “By understanding operational needs right now, but just as importantly future needs, we can help fleet owners optimize their EV investment, see immediate benefits in terms of EV equipment management and cost of operation, and avoid unpredictable outlays.”

Road tests, such as the recently completed 1,700- and, 2,500-mile demonstrations, are an integral part of ABC’s fleet electrification services for commercial passenger transport, he added.

“These tests generate critical data that enable continuous program development and optimization for ABC Companies and its technology partners. Real-time monitoring and data collection offer insights to improve energy consumption,” said Cornell. “Moreover, monitoring driver behavior and extensive use of the public charging ecosystem demonstrated during this test can help guide future training modules and regional route mapping.” 

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