246 Electric Buses Hit The Streets In The Netherlands

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Two recent news stories show that larger electric vehicles like buses and cargo vans are still a growing segment globally. An established electric bus builder recently delivered its first cargo box van, while hundreds of buses just went into service in the Netherlands.

GreenPower Sells Its First Electric Box Van

Image provided by GreenPower

GreenPower is already an established player in the electric medium and heavy duty vehicle business. GreenPower sells commercial vehicles for delivery, public transit, schools, vanpooling, micro-transit,  and shuttles. It started in 2010, and are based out of Vancouver, Canada.

Its new EV Star Cargo Plus van is larger than its previous models, using a box on the cutaway van’s frame instead of a traditional van shape, giving it a lot more cargo room than the non-plus model. It has a 118 kWh LiFePo battery and a Dana TM4 electric drive motor. Range is “up to 150 miles,” but the company gives its smaller and more aerodynamic vans the same range, and this one is likely to not go as far. For around town, it’s probably going to do pretty good at lower speeds and in stop-and-go traffic.

The City of Vancouver is about to put their new box van to the test. As part of a larger climate change plan, they are replacing gasoline and diesel powered vehicles with electric.

“The flexibility of our platform, combined with the fact that GreenPower has over 100 EV Stars currently on the road, leaves the company in a very advantageous position to scale and meet the rapidly evolving needs of numerous markets,” Fraser Atkinson, CEO of GreenPower, said. “We are proud to be helping the City of Vancouver in achieving the goal of reducing its reliance on fossil fuels.”

The box van has a liftgate that can pick up 1500 pounds, and a max payload of two tons.

Netherlands Adds 246 Electric Buses, Europe’s Largest Addition

Keolis, a public transport company in the Netherlands, recently added 246 electric buses to its fleet, the largest European delivery of electric buses to date. BYD provided the buses, and more are on the way. The total number for the order was 259 buses.

The first 246 buses entered service on December 13, working routes in Zwolle, Apeldoorn, Ede, Dedemsvaart, Vaassen, Harderwijk, and Deventer in the country’s IJssel-Vecht region. The rest of the buses are set for delivery and will be put to work in the spring.

None of the other numbers involved in this deployment are small, either. They’ve put in 177 charging stations and trained 750 drivers to run the 120 routes. There are over 50 stations connecting 180 municipalities, serving a population of over 3 million people. Coming in two sizes, each bus can carry 55 or 79 passengers (some standing), over 25 million kilometers annually.

One small number: the buses take 1.5 hours to charge between runs.

Bernard Tabary, CEO of Keolis Group, said, “We are very pleased to launch such a large number of electric buses in one go which will deliver benefits for both the environment and quality of life for people in these provinces. We are proud to do our part in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic by helping the two transport authorities rebuild passenger trust and reach their green goals with this safe, comfortable new fleet.”

Beyond the 750 bus drivers, another 50 employees were also trained for planning, logistics, maintenance, HR, marketing and other staff positions.

Data is also an important part of the equation. The city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, abandoned its electric bus plans a few years ago after the buses weren’t driving as far as expected. Keolis will avoid this problem by having ViriCiti monitor the buses and give drivers data and tips to get the most out of the buses. Now that they’ve added monitoring to these new buses, ViriCiti monitors 72.6% of all buses in the Netherlands.

A Continuing Global Trend

While American industries and jurisdictions are dragging their feet on medium and heavy duty electrification, other places are going all in to save on operational costs (maintenance, fuel, longevity) and lower emissions. With all of this inertia, and a trickle of electrification, it’s only a matter of time until the dam breaks in the United States.

The lower emissions from large vehicles are definitely key to achieving climate and emissions goals in the coming years.

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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

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