Electric Motor Coach Successfully Completes Stage 1 Of Testing

JUN 16 2018 BY MARK KANE 10

Motor Coach Industries (MCI), the subsidiary of New Flyer, announced introduction of its first all-electric coach, scheduled for sale from January 2020.

The prototype of J4500e coach already successfully completed its phase-one testing and, according to MCI, ran flawlessly at both low and high speeds up to a sustained 70 mph on the highway.

We don’t know the range of the coach, but the 450 kWh battery pack should be good for 300-400 miles we believe. Charging will take three hours if charger power is high enough.

Read Also – See Mercedes-Benz Present Electric Citaro Bus Prototype

For propulsion, MCI decided to use a high-torque Siemens motor – 2130 LB FT (2888 Nm).

The new electric platform later will be used also in the D45 CRT LE Commuter Coach and electric 35-foot MCI J.

Press release:

NORTH AMERICA’S #1 MOTOR COACH ON THE ROAD WITH BATTERY-ELECTRIC

MCI J4500e reaches highway speed and reliability targets in test runs
signals MCI’s leadership move into all-electric drawing on New Flyer expertise

DES PLAINES, ILLINOIS, MAY 10, 2018: (TSX:NFI) Motor Coach Industries (MCI), the U.S. subsidiary of New Flyer Industries Inc. (“NFI Group”), the largest transit bus and motor coach manufacturer and parts distributor in North America MCI announced today that its all-electric J4500e prototype successfully completed its phase one testing. The coach ran flawlessly at both low and high speeds up to a sustained 70 mph on the highway.

It means that MCI, which pioneered green fuel solutions with early entries in CNG and diesel-electric more than a decade ago, will add North America’s best-selling motor coach to its list of environmental breakthroughs. The all-electric J4500e coach is on schedule for January 2020 production and orders are being taken now.

The electric architecture incorporated in the MCI J4500e features a high-torque Siemens 2130 LB FT electric drive system with a planned range to meet long-distance applications, Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC) battery at 450 kWh with high power plug-in battery charging to 100% in under three hours. MCI will also apply its battery-electric platform to the D45 CRT LE Commuter Coach followed by the electric 35-foot MCI J giving operators the most comprehensive choices in purpose-built, all-electric coaches.

“We’re enormously pleased by these early test results — our all-electric J4500e delivered smooth power across varied roadways and impressive results in acceleration, handling and ride quality,” said JP Pelletier, Vice President of MCI Engineering. He observed how the electric motor lessens interior cabin noise, increasing passenger comfort. The J4500e regenerative braking, specifically designed to feel like the brakes on a clean-diesel coach, also performed as intended. “MCI has covered electric territory before with hyrbid diesel-electric coaches built in early 2000s that are still in service, but with the all-electric platform, we’re benefitting from New Flyer’s long time, battery-electric low-floor transit expertise,” said Mr. Pelletier.

Added MCI President Ian Smart, “We foresee our all-electric J4500e as the next frontier for MCI, with our MCI D45 CRT LE offering the same electric propulsion platform. Our customers will also have attractive electric charging options with MCI — they can work with us on standard depot charging, on-route systems or a multi-charge design.”

Mr. Smart explained that optional choices are productive because charging access still varies by community and route requirements. “Thanks to New Flyer’s and MCI’s complementary experience in electric, MCI is set to offer the most reliable, comfortable, efficient and passenger-friendly electric coaches to private and public operators anywhere in North America. Our customers expect workhorse performance, and we will deliver it,” said Mr. Smart.

The next stage

MCI will now move its all-electric J4500 test to Northern California, where public and private operators are eyeing all-electric expansion for their key customers. Major Silicon Valley technology employers are expanding their own private coach shuttle systems attractive to millennial workforces. Success in this market requires a deep understanding of how employer operators will be using these coaches.

Said Patrick Scully, MCI Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing: “The time-tested reliability of the J4500 coach matched to an all-electric powertrain and charging methods adopted from New Flyer battery electric Xcelsior Charge is a powerful benefit — we’re able to closely collaborate with customers to provide the optimal electric propulsion and charging solution based on their exact usage and scheduling needs.”

Next-generation comfort and amenities in a greener package

Expect the reliable, all-electric MCI J4500 to have styling and comfort features to match. The J4500 coach leads in curb appeal inside and out. From best-in-class legroom and slim-styled seating options to Wi-Fi and easy-access power outlets and overhead lighting, MCI makes distance travel both productive and relaxing.

The D45 CRT LE also stands as the industry’s most accessible coach ever, featuring a mid-door and patent-pending low entry vestibule with seating that speeds boarding for all passengers, including those with mobility devices.

Service and support to match throughout North America

The support grid for MCI’s all-electric product line includes more than 24 field support experts; seven MCI Sales and Service Centers across the U.S. and Canada; the MCI Academy — the company’s expanding online and hands-on technical training department; and NFI Parts, where operators have access to MCI and New Flyer OE parts along with parts for most other makes and models.

“The electric future at MCI is in line with our over all objectives of building low cost of operation and easy to service models,” said Mr. Smart. “MCI’s proven coaches combined with New Flyer’s battery-electric Xcelsior Charge expertise will pave the way for vehicle reliability, and help our customers make a smooth transition to electric.”

Where to learn more

As MCI’s all-electric J4500e makes its way around North American test sites over the next few months, MCI and New Flyer invites operators to consider a visit to Anniston, Alabama, home to the new Vehicle Innovation Center (VIC).

The VIC is the first-of-its-kind innovation lab dedicated to the exploration and development of future motor coach and transit bus technology, along with electric drive trains and power supply systems that are available now for demonstration and display. If you’re considering a visit to the VIC, let MCI help by contacting an MCI sales representative.

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10 Comments on "Electric Motor Coach Successfully Completes Stage 1 Of Testing"

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“but the 450 kWh battery pack should be good for 300-400 miles we believe”

Seems a bit optimistic. The mercedes bus (linked as relevant) can only do 150 km (93 miles) for 243kWh capacity.
I don’t think it’s likely that this larger looking and definitely heavier bus is twice as efficient.

The clients that they sell to would never buy something with less range than that. I drive the current diesel and hybrid buses, and they can go a long long way on a tank.

Regardless, it’s still an impossible. There’s no way that this bigger bus will even have proportionally longer range based on battery capacity (172 mi) than the smaller bus, much less double or more.
It might do 150 miles or there’s vastly more energy capacity than specified.

This is exciting! I drive the diesel D4500, as well as the hybrid, and they are a fantastic piece of equipment. The hybrid is especially smooth and regenerative braking is nice.

For those who disbelieve the range, I don’t expect they would sell anything with less than 500km range, in the winter with the heat on. The current fleet has a safe range of more than 1000km (but the fuel numbers show 2000+ achievable), so it would be a big ask to go too far backwards. Would still need to charge mid shift to finish a whole day on some runs.

Thanks for your insight.

Plus these buses do two round trips in the morning go to the depot and back to for the evening runs

Perfect for commuter buses for the NYC area

I would like to point out that it appears to be the author of this article that made the 300-400 mile prediction. In reality, MCI is expecting around 200 and hopefully a bit more depending on duty cycle. These vehicles are massive and have high energy requirements to hit the highway speeds required. These coaches will not be used for the long-haul touring applications but rather the shorter, fixed route commuter applications where access to charging is possible between morning and evening runs.

Any reference for their range estimates?

I am on the design team 🙂