Automotive

eLion electric bus rolls to school with no emissions

eLion electric bus rolls to sc...
The eLion takes kids to and from school without the diesel exhaust
The eLion takes kids to and from school without the diesel exhaust
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The eLion's touchscreen display provides battery and system information
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The eLion's touchscreen display provides battery and system information
The eLion takes kids to and from school without the diesel exhaust
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The eLion takes kids to and from school without the diesel exhaust
Elion customers can select from several battery options
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Elion customers can select from several battery options
Charging the eLion batteries takes between 4 and 6.5 hours with the standard charger, and Lion plans to launch a fast charger later this year
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Charging the eLion batteries takes between 4 and 6.5 hours with the standard charger, and Lion plans to launch a fast charger later this year
Elion power comes from a TM4 electric motor
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Elion power comes from a TM4 electric motor
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California is once again getting an electric school bus, and this time it's a full-size Type C. One of the fruits of the carbon market cooperation between Québec and California, the all-electric eLion from Québec's Lion Bus quietly navigates local streets without leaving a heavy cloud of diesel fumes in its wake.

Lion Bus traveled from one "ca" to another on Wednesday, holding an official eLion unveiling in Palo Alto, California in conjunction with government officials from both California and Québec. The bus was created with help from the two regions' unique cooperative cap-and-trade programs.

Billed as the only electric Type C school bus built in North America, the eLion looks pretty much like the typical big, yellow school bus, albeit with a more modern face. Below its long, yellow shell, though, the eLion loses the typical diesel powertrain in favor of a TM4 electric motor wired to three to five battery packs. Three battery packs power the bus for up to 50 miles (80 km); four packs go 75 miles (121 km); and five packs bring it up to 100 (161 km).

The standard 19.2-kW onboard charger gets the three packs charged in around 3.9 hours, four packs in 5.2 hours and five packs in 6.5 hours. Lion also plans to launch a fast charger option later this year, bringing times down to between 1.5 and 2.5 hours.

Charging the eLion batteries takes between 4 and 6.5 hours with the standard charger, and Lion plans to launch a fast charger later this year
Charging the eLion batteries takes between 4 and 6.5 hours with the standard charger, and Lion plans to launch a fast charger later this year

Lion says that the eLion has power comparable to a diesel bus, along with the ability to climb 20 percent grades. Meanwhile, the company says operators can save up to US$13,000 a year on fuel costs and $3,000 on maintenance, seeing a return on investment in six years.

The immediate advantage for communities looking to invest in electric school buses, though, is zero emissions, and not just the "halting climate change to save the world" kind, but also the "preventing our children from having to choke on diesel fumes in order to attend school" kind.

I haven't had to ride the school bus in over 20 years, but all I have to do to re-experience the thick, semi-sweet taste of school bus exhaust is close my eyes and imagine walking around my junior high school parking lot. Instantly, the taste is there again.

Huffing school bus-size clouds of diesel isn't a pleasant experience for anyone, but it's especially hard on children, who have faster breathing rates and still-developing lungs. The more children who are able to go through their school years without breathing that exhaust every day, the better.

Elion customers can select from several battery options
Elion customers can select from several battery options

Lion's Palo Alto event wasn't a world premiere, as the company actually began commercializing the eLion about a year ago and has since delivered more than 50 buses to school districts and private contractors, according to company president Marc Bedard. Yesterday's unveiling was more ceremonial, with the focus of the event on announcing Lion's planned manufacturing facility in California.

The site for Lion's new plant has not yet been identified, but the state of California intends to help the company find the right location. Bedard says Lion will invest in the facility over the next four years and split production of its expanding lineup between the new plant and its Québec facility. In addition to the eLion, that lineup will include an electric mini-bus and electric trucks of various classes.

Source: Lion Bus, California GO-Biz via AutoBlog

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12 comments
Milton
This is just way too good of an idea. Seems like every school should run fundraisers to buy a couple of these.
Shohreh
In the Netherlands, people use the low-tech and much saner approach: Kids ride a bike to school.
RockyRandall
ROFLMAO I get a kick out of these articles that want to make people think electric is the be all to end all. Its as if the electricity is free and pure. Where did it come from ohh it just magical appears ????? How about the electricity used to charge the bus MIGHT be creating more pollution than the "dirty diesel" .How about the products going into the bus to make it in the first place?? Where does the products come from used to make the bus??? Especially the batteries. Also what about disposal of these items at the end of the buses life do they just magically disappear??? This is a very one sided article and certainly hasn't looked at the whole story of ANY electric vehicle. Ill gaurenttee you right now that Ontario for example that jumped on the "clean electric " band wagon won't be buying anyof these anytime soon.It will cost them as mucch as the bus is worth to run it for 6 months with the cost of electricty there .
Oideo de Campos
Probably the eletricity for battery chargement will come from a thermoeletric using diesel or charcoal.
LDHummel
Thanks Rocky for bringing up a few points no one wants to discuss.
JimThomas
There are many, many bus routes that are longer than 50 miles...some pushing 100 miles depending on the school district...that means charging in the middle of the day (prime time) vs charging in the late evening. Plus the infrastructure needed for charging stations that would handle a fleet of these buses. CNG buses would seem to be a better choice if emissions were the main concern since most fleets could be converted instead of replaced.
Milton
@Rocky Why continue to beat this dead-horse topic? It should be quite clear to you naysayers by now that electricity produced and used in the travel sector by the USA Grid is cleaner than gasoline used in the transportation sector (given US av. MPG figures). And to reverse your argument: DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH ELECTRICITY IS USED TO PRODUCE A SINGLE GALLON OF GASOLINE?
EcoLogical
Statistically, 1 in 10 kids has asthma (caused by fossil fuel emissions) … a 10 fold increase over historic levels. I know this first hand, since my grandson has asthma, my daughter has asthma, I have asthma, and my mother has asthma. It saddens me to see my grandson carrying a puffer and EpiPen everywhere, just like my daughter and I have had to do ☹ and it angers me when I see my grandson boarding a school bus powered by diesel ... Nitrous Oxide forms NITRIC ACID when it contacts water in your lungs i.e. DIESELS KILL KIDS !!!
habakak
RockyRandall....How about the products going into the bus to make it in the first place?? Where does the products come from used to make the bus??? Also what about disposal of these items at the end of the buses life do they just magically disappear??? All of these questions are applicable to ALL ICE vehicles too. So you really add nothing. Besides, you know the answer to all those questions. Vehicles mostly get recycled (all the metal at least, but also some other parts). Vehicle making indeed is a dirty business. And most of that dirt comes from making ICE's since 99% of all vehicles sold are ICE's. Talk about the 'dirty business' of manufacturing batteries. Really? That is any worse than manufacturing ICE engines and the mining and refining the fuels that they run on? As for the electricity that is used to charge this battery, it COULD be coming from renewable sources. Whether it does or not only matters in the short term since the world is moving to renewable energy. In 25 years from now most of the world electricity and overall energy will come from renewable sources. You won't be able to power dirty fossil fuel engines with clean renewable electricity. So going electric is a step in the direction of cleaning up not just our electricity generating infrastructure, but also our mobility model. 100+ years ago people like you were also poo-pooing gasoline engines, espousing the values of horse and buggies. Whether you want to make unfair comparisons or just look at one side of things, the world is changing and people like you will be left disgruntled. The cost of generating renewable energy is falling and fossil fuels will not get much cheaper. Renewable energy (the sun, wind, waves and geothermal heat) is available everywhere. The cost of generating it and both storing it (for when it is not available) is falling all the time. Solar and wind energy was impossibly expensive to run the world just 10 years ago. It has become viable since then and the economics of renewable energy will only improve even more over time. Since 2010 the cost of solar has dropped 70%. Now imagine another 70% drop by 2023. I don't expect you to see this though.
JasonArnold
*sigh* LDHummel, this HAS been discussed before - to death actually. Google "long tailpipe myth" for the electricity vs coal pollution debate. Also, Lithium batteries are highly recyclable and Ontario's electricity rates are cheapest at night, which is when these buses would be doing most of their charging. Long story short: the article's not nearly as one-sided as RockyRandall's uninformed rant.