By Kyle Field
GreenPower Motor Company* has charged into the medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicle market with an array of vehicles that it designed and built from the ground up to be electric. Building the vehicles from the ground up allowed GreenPower to optimize the location of the batteries and the location and style of the motors, among other things.
The benefits of this can be seen in passenger vehicles when we look at the sub-optimized Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive, which has delivered an average efficiency of 2.9 miles per kWh in the 3 years we have owned ours, compared to the 4.1 miles per kWh Tesla expects from the Model 3.
These efficiencies play out in many other areas as well, like charging standards. The Mercedes-Benz B-Class has a Tesla powertrain that is capable of 400 volt charging, also known as DC Fast Charging, but because Mercedes-Benz did not want to modify the sheet metal on the outside of the car away from the internal combustion frame, the adapter would not fit in the existing dimensions, which means that our car is limited to level 2 charging with the J1772 adapter.
GreenPower has eked out every efficiency and optimized its buses and other electric vehicles to maximize the benefits of electric drivetrains in multiple ways. As with our Mercedes B-Class electric, the charging adapter is an often underestimated function in larger electric vehicles designed for fleets, as there is an expectation that operators will purchase and install their own hardware at transit depots, warehouses, and schoolyards. That is a reasonable base case, but utilizing a standard fast charging adapter is preferable for numerous reasons.
GreenPower chose to build its electric vehicles from the ground up with the SAE Combo / CCS DC Fast Charging adapter as the standard because of the additional functionality it provides to customers.
First and foremost, using a standard DC Fast Charging standard in medium and heavy duty electric vehicles allows customers to use all of the existing DC Fast Charging infrastructure.
For example, imagine a fully electric school bus that wants to take a group of students to a soccer game at another school 2 hours away. The base range of the bus they bought was sized for the average daily utilization and only has a range of 150 miles. With a standard CCS DCFC adapter, the bus can take the students to the game, charge during the game, and drive home at the end of the day. The ability to use existing public chargers with a standard adapter extends the usability of electric vehicles.
In the case of GreenPower, its buses can fully recharge on an SAE Combo / CCS DC Fast Charger in 3 hours. The ability for a transit vehicle to fully recharge in just a few hours opens up a range of use cases that allow fleet operators to plan out fleets for maximum utilization with minimum downtime for charging.
The GreenPower Synapse 72 school bus is configured for a precise use case, meaning the range is custom tailored based on the needs of the customer. The ability to increase and decrease the range of the vehicle for a specific route or district ensures customers are only paying for what they need, not extra range they don’t need.
Buying a vehicle that utilizes a standard charger allows customers to purchase a charger from any number of existing electric vehicle service equipment (aka EVSE) manufacturers. That flexibility allows customers to choose from a larger selection of options to get the best charger for their needs, from a local supplier with their own support system and warranty procedures.
Utilizing a DC Fast Charging standard also ensures that the vehicle will be compatible with public chargers for the foreseeable future. That provides much needed reassurance for fleet owners who are banking on the long-term viability of investments in vehicles and infrastructure.
*This article was generously sponsored by GreenPower Motor Company