Zion National Park May Soon Adopt Electric Buses

Zion National Park May Soon Adopt Electric Buses

The National Park Service has long maintained a commitment to minimizing traffic on their roads and keeping environmentally-vehicles in their fleet. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), roughly 60 percent of the vehicles the Park Service maintains are electric or powered by alternative fuels. About 20 years ago, the Park Service began replacing its gasoline and diesel-powered buses with low-emission propane-powered alternatives. Now, those buses are getting old and park officials are considering upgrading to an even more environmentally-friendly alternative – electric buses.

Recently, the Park Service began working with the NREL to evaluate the possibility of converting 14 propane-powered buses in Utah’s Zion National Park to electric drivetrains. Before the Park Service can commit to the conversions, they need to make sure that the electric buses would be able to meet the demands of traversing the road topography in the Zion National Park. They’ll also have to assess the cost of installing and supporting a charging infrastructure in the park.

Currently, the NREL is working on gathering data from onboard logging devices on the current fleet of buses to determine the power and range that an electric bus will need to ferry tourists around the park in the future. Once they gather the statistical data on the current buses’ performance, they’ll provide the information to companies bidding for the conversion contract.

The NREL has worked with the Parks Service in the past, and was instrumental in the earlier transition to propane-powered buses. Now, they’ve returned to help facilitate the transition to electric buses as well. Zion might be the first National Park to work toward adopting electric buses, but they certainly won’t be the last.

China’s Road-Straddling Bus Takes a Test Drive

China’s Road-Straddling Bus Takes a Test Drive

Earlier this year, civil engineers at the 19th China Beijing International High-Tech Expo unveiled plans for an innovative space-saving bus that rides above traffic rather than alongside it. It’s called the Transit Elevated Bus (TEB), and its unique design quickly gained a great deal of notoriety online. While some transit experts praised the bus’s road-straddling construction, others argued that it was merely a conceptual design that could never materialize into a real vehicle.

At the time, the TEB’s engineering time had nothing but a miniature scale model to demonstrate their invention. Now, just a few months later, a full-size TEB has taken its inaugural test drive in Qinhuangdao, Hebei province. The test drive was conducted in a controlled trial that didn’t exactly mimic normal driving conditions, but it did at least prove that the TEB could, in fact, be driven on a real roadway. The test drive consisted of a 300 meter run with one TEB bus carriage. Ultimately, the TEB’s designers plan to connect four of the carriages together so that a single bus could carry as many as 1,200 passengers. In addition to its one-of-a-kind design, the TEB is also unique in that it’s powered by a fully-electric drivetrain.

Even on a brief test run, watching the behemoth bus roll down the road while cars travel underneath it is an impressive sight. It’s hard to say if and when the bus will become commonplace on China’s roadways, but for now you can see the bus in action in this video of its first test run!

 

Volkswagen Announces Electric Version of Its Iconic Bus

Volkswagen Announces Electric Version of Its Iconic Bus

Since they were originally released in the 1950’s, Volkswagen’s camper buses have always occupied a special place in the hearts of American drivers. In the 1960’s, they became symbols of the counterculture movement. And then, at the end of the 1970’s, imports to the U.S. ceased as production was outsourced to Brazil.
 
Since then, collectors have done their best to preserve the limited number of VW buses left in the States. Volkswagen has made a few attempts at reviving the line over the years, but each time the new models have looked more like minivans than the beloved road tripping hippie mobiles of the 60’s.
 
Soon, however, according to Volkswagen’s development chief Hans-Jakob Neusser, we may see a return to the original design in the form of a new electric version of the camper bus. In a recent interview with Autocar, Neusser identified three particular design ques that he sees as integral to the buses’ aesthetic. “First the wide, solid D-Pillar, second the boxy design of the center section, and thirdly, the front end must have a very short overhang. The distance from the A-pillar to the front end must be very short.”
 
Neusser also confirmed that there would be two versions of the new bus – one of which will be powered by a gasoline engine, while the other will be outfitted with an electric motor. Volkswagen claims that the electric versions will be able to travel about 250-300 miles on a charge. Not too shabby.
 
In the wake of the company’s recent diesel emissions scandal, this electric bus might be just what Volkswagen needs to regain the trust of its customer base. For now, we’ll just have to wait and see if the final design lives up to the expectation.
 

Former Tesla Employee Making Electric City Buses

Former Tesla Employee Making Electric City Buses

Since the company was founded over a decade ago by a pair of bold entrepreneurs, Tesla Motors has continually defied expectations and shattered records with their line of electric cars, changing the way we think about the long-term practicality and potential impact of these futuristic vehicles. Now, a former employee of Tesla is working to make a similar impact on the bus market.
 
Proterra is a Greenville, S.C.-based company that was founded in 2004 by bus industry veteran Dale Hill. By the time Ryan Popple of Tesla joined the team, Proterra was poised to do something truly remarkable. Since then, they’ve created a fully electric bus from the ground up, aiming for Tesla-like innovation and performance.
 
Already, they’ve achieved some truly impressive performance benchmarks. Proterra’s electric buses can travel up to 200 miles on a single charge and then recharge in as little as ten minutes. They’ve also set records for acceleration, grade-climbing and efficiency. Not only that, Proterra’s product holds the distinction of being the lightest electric bus ever made. Of course the features that passengers are most likely to appreciate are its quiet operation and lack of diesel fumes.
 
In addition to the innovations within the buses, Proterra has also introduced wireless charging stations that allow the buses to be quickly and discreetly charged while waiting at bus stops. Major cities such as Los Angeles, Seattle, Dallas, and Lexington have already started employing the buses in their transit system. By 2016, Proterra hopes to have over 100 of its buses in cities all across the country. Once a second factory is completed in California’s San Gabriel Valley, Proterra will be able to bring even more of its record-breaking buses to a street near you.