Gilroy School District’s All Electric Bus Conversion – Video

DEC 21 2014 BY JAY COLE 27

Gilroy Electric Bus Returns From Its First Trip (via CH Reynolds)

Gilroy Electric Bus Returns From Its First Trip (via CH Reynolds)

Gilroy Unified School District handed the keys to a diesel 2007 Blue Bird bus to Breathe California of the Bay Area and then received this all-electric bus in return earlier this Spring.

Now the school bus conversion project by Adomani has been featured (above) as the “Success Story” of the week, by MotorWeek.

Just as a primer on the bus, it now has a 82 kWh battery pack, charges partially by solar energy and has a range of 40 miles, which admittedly doesn’t sound like much, but it has been optimized for the job it has to do – shuttle up to 50 kids over a 22 mile route.

The Gilroy board and the bus conversion manufacturer says the bus will pay for its own conversion costs in about 6 years.

Video (below): More technically specific walk-though of the bus by Adomani

Hat tip to offib!

Categories: Bus


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27 Comments on "Gilroy School District’s All Electric Bus Conversion – Video"

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School buses and short range delivery vans are perfect for EV power today.

Completely agree. Not to mention eliminating idling diesel motors outside of every school. Save the diesel buses for field trips.

That thing is hideously noisy.

I agree. Sounds like mostly fans running. But you’d think it would be more quiet for an EV.

It would be interesting to hear the equivalent diesel while idling, using the same camera.
There’s no way it should be that loud, even if running HVAC on max.
I’m wondering if it’s a function of the camera, automatically amplifying any sort of sound present (which is normally a good feature for picking up people talking, etc)

Otherwise, that’s just annoyingly loud.

We get the same think on EV reviews, the camera picks up loud road noise, but everyone in the car is talking about how quiet it is.

If it’s the AC or if it was a fan keeping the cells cool while charging, then I guess that’s close, but trust me, that’s whisper quiet compared to the buses I see in around town.

It’s mainly the double-deckers that make the majority of buses and they are horribly loud inside and out. It’s not what you call a quality experience.

The one thing I could wish for my city to do is to trial an electric bus. They’re quicker off the lights to get traffic moving and they wont deafen you if they pass by you walking on the street or if you ride in them. That’s all excluding the effects of local pollution they bring.

If your city is London, they are using two BYD buses on a trial. I rode one of them, and to my ear, it sounded about the same inside the bus as any other bus!

Outside, I’m sure it’s far quieter than a diesel double-decker.

NYC recently did a trail with BYD buses. A supervisor at an MTA bus garage told me the BYD buses couldn’t meet the demands required of NYC transit buses, because they took too long to charge. Since NYC’s transit system runs round the clock. the bus out of service only four to six hours a day, during which time they have to drive back and forth to the garage from their routes and get their daily inspection. The short turn around didn’t leave enough time to charge the bus. He also said most of the hybrid BAE Orion buses were being converted to diesel only because the Lithium Ion batteries were all failing prematurely. Since the warranties on the buses have recently expired, the city and not the manufacurer would now be paying to replace the batteries. The bean counters determined it would be more cost efficient convert the hybrid buses to diesel, but the ones with Manhattan routes would stay hybrid for air quality reasons. Supposedly, the city can’t find anyone to recycle the dead batteries and that they are being stockpiled until they find a way to dispose of them. Interestingly, he said the hybrid power trains were… Read more »

Your rhetoric that the problem is only the batteries doesn’t jive with the reports I have seen. It seems the issue is that these hybrid buses are just unreliable in general with all components affected (not just batteries, and not even just the hybrid parts, even the door mechanism), as the same issues popped up here in SF.

According to this article, the switch by the NYMTA (represented by spokesperson Kevin Ortiz) from the hybrid buses is because of continuous failure of the traction motor, not the batteries:

It seems they are using a series hybrid design with roof mounted a123 LFP battery. They had a massive recall because the roof mounted battery removed the need for active cooling, but allowed debris and moisture to accumulate and cause short circuits and premature failure of the battery packs.

Right now SF is having a competition between BAE and Allison to see which hybrid bus is more reliable.

The BYD buses I don’t believe had as many reliability issus.

You’re absolutely right about the traction motors, but the batteries are also having shorter lifespans than projected and were replaced under warranty. That warranty period is now over. From the link below: “colder cities such as Toronto and Ottawa also discovered they had to replace the lithium-ion batteries more often than they were expecting to, at about $60,000 per battery.” I don’t know if this is true, but its been reported that BYD is having very serious reliability issues in China. BYD stock plunged 9.3% “on reports the Chinese government was considering abandoning plans to expand the use of pure electric buses as they’ve proven to be inefficient and uneconomical. ‘The experiment of using pure electric buses has failed in all the tested cities,’ Caixin quoted Wang Zidong, an official in charge of China’s power vehicle test center, as saying.” The info in my above post came from a long discussion with an MTA maintenance supervisor that covered an number of different bus models diesel-hybrid, BEV, CNG, and turbine hybrids. My memory isn’t as good as it used to be, and it didn’t help that the supervisor kept mixing up terms: ie he said the transmission/powertrain was rock… Read more »

Link for the now bankrupt DesignLine diesel-turbine hybrid bus:

Link for traction motor failing in NYC buses and the warranty running out:

Frédérick St-Laurent

There are also companies building electric from the start:

“Safety, safety, safety”- yet they still don’t install seat belts in school buses.

Google “compartmentalization buses”. School buses are THE safest form of ground transportation.

Very interesting that this bus will charge on a 30 amp (6200 watt) EVSE. I’m assuming somewhat under 210 volts @ the bus depot, (assuming a 600 volt supply, and 208 for the evse’s). Of course that seems adequate since that’s all I ever charge my Roadster with, albeit 10% faster at the higher home voltage….

Now me, If I lived in Canada, I’d take the existing 347 volts, send it through a cheap, 3 kva single phase 240/120 small dry transformer arranged to ‘Buck’, and run the ChargePoint at 230 volts, which would also not put any loading on any existing 208 volt separately derived system the bus depot had.

Why buy transfomers transforming 100% of the power when you only need to transform 1/3 of it? Interestingly, its rarely done in the states either. I’ve never seen an EVSE run on anything other than the existing electricity at a building, or in the worst case they actually BUY a 208 volt transformer for the EVSE’s when they’d optimally run on around 240 volts.

The situation in the US is even more compelling for the “Buck” type of feed.

A 240/36 volt, 1.5 kva single phase dry transformer arranged to buck, would provide a nominal 241 volts on a 30 amp evse without putting any loading on any existing separately derived 208 volt system from a 277Y/480 volt building.

Very cool project.

Avoided are idling diesel bus motors on school grounds. This reduces health effects of local particle emissions as well as cutting the effect of other gas emissions related global climate change. It also makes the transportation budget much more predictable.

Hummm, very noisy up front…. You would have thought they’d put some fibreglas around those noisy pumps.

The other thing I’ve never had explained to me is why do they need 800 or 1600 horsepower to go to school and back. I only have a little over 200 hp in my roadster and it definitely accelerates fast enought.

My battery powered lawn mulching lawn mower has only a 1/3 hp motor in it. Its not enough, but it shows you what you can live with .

I’d think 300 hp would be plenty for a school bus.

Or are they doing 1600 hp Monster School Busses now?

The Gilroy bus you wouldn’t think would need much of a motor at all, since it has an Allison transmission to rev fast enough for any required horsepower, plus all the auxiliaries (pneumatics and hydralics) have their own additional motors.

I could see a large frame motor on the Quebec bus since it has no transmission. So that particular company probably decided to spend more money on a larger motor to do away with the complication and expense of a transmission. Larger motors are pretty cheap anyway, and drives aren’t that pricey. The incomming current to the drive would be low, since the overall power used at low speeds is relatively low.

This is well outdated.
There’s a totally develloped electric bus made in Québec that beat this one for the price, ride, performance, range and sound.
In fact they had to synthesize a “safety” sound for the child to ear the bus coming.
Just like the Leaf did with the qestionnable VSP (vehicule sound proximity)

Sorry I wasn’t able to find english related information.
It’s in french for those of you who can understand.

I’m all for electrifying short-range utility vehicles like this… and the damned garbage truck that goes up our street every morning at 5:30am. It’s noisy enough that it wakes me up every day.

s/6 year/6 years/

@ Jay – NEWS TIP

I don’t know if following story is true.

BYD stock plunged 9.3% “on reports the Chinese government was considering abandoning plans to expand the use of pure electric buses as they’ve proven to be inefficient and uneconomical. ‘The experiment of using pure electric buses has failed in all the tested cities,’ Caixin quoted Wang Zidong, an official in charge of China’s power vehicle test center, as saying.”

If that’s true then its a damn shame they haven’t either used sufficienly large, protected, or built in a reasonable ‘service factor’.

They’re designed in Southern California, and I’ve been told by people that younger designers don’t design for the environment the vehicles will be exposed to, and that they assume all locales are like San Diego.

If that’s true, that’s just plain dumb. A plain induction motor can be ruggedized to withstand almost any environment, even Submerged.

All homes in my area have induction motors in the basement living their lives 100% of the time under water. Its a town requirement for the sump pumps.

The article didn’t mention anything about the motors failing, but stated two reasons why the buses were uneconomical: 1) expensive infrastructure investment, and 2) very frequent and expensive battery replacement. Apparently, BYD’s batteries have a much shorter cycle life than predicted.

From the article: “Second, the maintenance fee is costly. ‘Batteries of such vehicles have short life, so they should be changed quite often. But it costs hundreds of thousand yuan to change a battery. Always the buses were set aside after the battery is used,’ Wang said.”

You’re right Sven sorry, my mistake.

It was another Blogger who stated the motors were failing on some busses.