Cummins Teams With Gillig To Make 200-Mile Electric Buses

OCT 10 2017 BY MARK KANE 25


Cummins began the APTA public transportation show in Atlanta with a big splash, announcing its first electric vehicle partnership with GILLIG.

GILLIG- 125 years

If you aren’t familiar with the name (we don’t blame you), GILLIG is one of the leading transit bus manufacturers in North America, and is now looking to use Cummins batteries and powertrains in its first electric buses.

The goal is to put electric buses on the road with 200 miles of real world range. With 560 kWh batteries (the top option) it certainly will be possible, and in fairly short order.

“The technical collaboration work focuses on integrating and optimizing new battery electric technology from Cummins that will soon power GILLIG zero-emissions transit buses.”

“Initial development work for the new battery electric GILLIG bus envisions a 200-mile operating range on a single charge. The bus will feature a direct-drive traction motor with peak torque of 3500 Nm (2582 lbs-ft), and utilize energy recovered from a regenerative braking system. A package of e-accessories will be powered by the Cummins system. The initial bus deployment will use a plug-in charger.

Cummins currently powers the GILLIG series of Low Floor, BRT, BRTPlus, Commuter and Trolley buses with a broad portfolio of clean-diesel, near-zero natural gas and diesel-hybrid power. The addition of Cummins electrified power systems to the bus range will align with transit customers looking to introduce zero-emissions buses to their fleets while still maintaining commonality with their existing GILLIG vehicles and service support provision.”

Derek Maunus, President of GILLIG said:

“GILLIG has a very strong business relationship with Cummins — and now, with our new technical partnership, we have been able to share our respective technology roadmaps and jointly develop a vision to deliver the most comprehensive, advanced technology battery electric bus in the market for our customers,”.

“We have leveraged our companies’ decades of heavy duty transit experience in the design of the system, and will integrate this advanced technology into GILLIG’s industry leading proven platform,”.

“Cummins and GILLIG have been working together since the 1950s to introduce innovative bus power solutions — and I am really excited to be continuing that success forward into the new era of electric buses,”

Amy Boerger, Cummins Vice President — Sales North America said:

“The Cummins electrified powertrain on show here at APTA represents a major leap forward for the industry, and we are delighted that GILLIG will have first access to this important zero-emissions technology. The partnership enables a close technical collaboration so we can accelerate system integration and performance optimization work to leap ahead of others in the industry.”

“Beyond the technical development work, the partnership will also encompass the full range of 24/7 service support, diagnostics, over-the-air connectivity, flexible warranty plans and training programs ready for when these GILLIG electric buses enter service,”

“At Cummins, we see our customer support network as equally important as the technology we provide to ensure the success of our customers — and this is a major advantage we will carry forward when we introduce electrified systems,”

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25 Comments on "Cummins Teams With Gillig To Make 200-Mile Electric Buses"

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I’m surprised I haven’t heard of anyone building electric school buses.

Probably too cost critical. School buses are very low cost. That doesn’t sit well with electric power plants at this time.

Ok, so who else immediately began singing that 3 hour tour song when they read Gillig?

And ya, I actually hope they don’t spend the $ on EV school buses. They for the most part just don’t drive many miles a day. A PHEV or something maybe to replace an aging diesel but not to replace a natural gas/propane bus and not a pure EV yet. I would think the $ would be better spent on buses that cover more miles or other vehicles like garbage trucks that don’t really cover all that many miles a day but operate for what 12-14 hours a day?

Motiv in the SFO Bay area makes EV school buses but it is not a big revenue stream so they also make EV trash trucks now.

Exhaust from school buses is awful. I’d actually prefer moving kids in SUVs vs diesel school buses from an air quality stand point.

Anything to improve them is way overdue and welcome.

Actually, school busses could be built with 30 or 60 MPC packs and do quit well.
These would approach the initial costs of a diesel, but then running it would be a fraction.

The American electric companies are the interesting item to me.
I am nothing less than shocked that they are not getting together with say Tesla, GM, or Ford and having them build small busses and delivery vehicles that have say 30-50 MPC, ESP, the deliver vehicles.

With those, they could flip USPO, Fed-ex, etc and have them charge during the nighttime. In addition, this would allow the utilities the ability to string better lines out to their various locations, esp. the USPO’s and have those service not just USPO, but regular residences.

IOW, the grid would get heavy use 24×7, and more importantly, the demand would be leveled off.

School districts barely have money to pay teachers.

Only the ones in districts which have made that decision. Rich districts have plenty of money and superior schools.

Not really.

All the more reason to go to EV school buses. These are MUCH CHEAPER to own than diesel. That is why a school bus with a 30-60 MPC pack should cost similar to a diesel school bus today.

Minnesota just got it’s first electric school bus. Forgot which website I saw it on. Propane is the big push in school buses right now.

the big problem with that bus is that it is rated for 100 MPC, while school buses travel 66 miles PER DAY.
So instead, they should do 50 MPC pack and charge 2x a day.
Or many of the routes in a CITY are not 66 miles / day, but closer to 30 miles / day.
The problem becomes rural places like where I grew up and my school was 30 miles away. That brings the average way up esp since I know that the bus likely traveled about 50 miles on each to/from.

I didn’t see it on a website, I saw it at the State Fair! Looks like the on-board heating system isn’t electric, though. CNG, perhaps? It’s too bad that they can’t change the look at all. Safety first, I suppose.


School buses are some $100k or less, and travel just 12,000 miles per year average, 180 days per year.

It easy to notice that $500k-$700k battery only school bus would be simply impossible economically. Maybe you can order a cheaper bus with smaller battery. Find some subsidies. But it would still be expensive, and you would still need to use at least some of the buses for school trips and be able to drive much longer distances than average. Still, cumulative distances are low and are not enough to pay off upfront investment with fuel savings. School districts don’t even have money for upfront payments.

Transit buses that drive all day long are lower hanging fruit for expensive battery bus sales.

Where did you get the idea that battery-only buses cost $500,000 – $700,000? This is way, way off.

Lion Bus in Montreal built several EV school buses, and there were some others built with the EPC powertrain. I hear the majors are getting involved soon.

Cummins has the same incentive to sell electric power trains as GM or any of the others that make gas mobiles.


They make more money selling you you a Diesel.

Except… Cummins was severely shaken by news that Tesla was building an all-electric Semi. And they are adapting. They cannot afford to lose their monopoly in any market. In late August, they released a technology demonstrator electric semi:

It surprises me, because the coal-rolling crowd all drives Cummins diesel pickup trucks.

If you control half the market for 100,000 units per year, now half of that is EV, you lost half your revenue. You might make bigger profit margins on diesel, but reality is what it is.

I have a couple of thoughts. One,done buses don’t need to drive very many miles per route, why couldn’t they get away with an 80-100kWh battery? Even if the range was only 50 miles… It cpuld charge while the kids were in school. I would think tesla could come in around $125-150k for a bus that utilized a lot of model X,S or tesla Semi parts.
My other more crazy idea is to build a skateboard chassis, to which you could add a bus body for morning and afternoon use, and then also have a second body for a delivery or garbage service or something. Idk, that last one might be too advanced for out time.

I’m curious:
Why do US school buses need to be single-use vehicles? That seems a very inefficient use of resources.
Over here (and most/all countries in Europe, AFAIK), rural/suburban schools that need non-public transportation service simply use standard inter-city coaches (*) owned or rented by the local authority/county. For the ones owned by the county, when they’re not being used for student transport, they’re used for stuff like taking local retired residents on field trips, or are rented out for sundry uses on days when there’s no school.

If the issue is that school buses have special lighting/visibility so they get priority when driving/stopped, surely that could be easily added to standard coaches at at very little cost, and simply not used when they’re not functioning as school buses.

(*) The inter-city ones have seats & seatbelts for every passengers, vs. slow-speed city-transit coaches that don’t have belts, and are designed to accommodate many standing passengers.

It would make more sense to be multi use. Take the kids to school in the morning then do routes taking people shopping. They would have to be a better design.