Electric transit buses picking up steam in the U.S.

Electric transit buses have suddenly become all the rage, with several companies announcing they are either entering the zero-emission arena or expanding their current electric-coach fleets with new models.


Electric-bus announcements in recent months include:

  • Belgian motorcoach manufacturer Van Hool and its North American distributor, ABC Companies, plan to introduce a version of the popular CX45 coach with an electric drive system manufactured by Proterra of Burlingame, Calif. They expect deliveries to begin in 2019, followed by an electric version of the CX35.
  • New Flyer Industries, which has been selling Xcelsior electric transit buses since 2014, has introduced the Xcelsior CHARGE with extended-range battery technology and increased torque for steep-grade cities.
  • Motor Coach Industries, a New Flyer subsidiary, has unveiled an updated commuter coach model with a curb-level wheelchair ramp that will be available in an all-electric version in 2020.
  • The Volkswagen Truck & Bus division is investing $1.7 billion in new technology, including electric drivetrains, and plans to deliver wholly electric buses next year to European cities.
  • Engine maker Cummins Inc. has introduced two electric power systems for GILLIG LLC transit buses: the Range Extender Electric Vehicle, which operates with ultra-low emissions when running on the small engine generator or with zero emissions on full battery power; and the Battery Electric Vehicle System, which operates with zero emissions, multiple charging options and battery pack modularity.

The market for such vehicles appears to be expanding both in Europe and the United States. In fact, New Flyer recently announced that the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority (L.A. Metro) ordered up to 100 of the company’s new Xcelsior CHARGE electric buses.

The contract, which New Flyer said is one of the largest purchases of electric city buses in the United States, includes 35 firm orders with options to purchase an additional 65 buses.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said L.A. Metro as committed to establishing a fully electric fleet by 2030.

Share this post