Electric School Buses From Motiv Power Coming To California
September 7th, 2017  Steve Hanley

[image  / Motiv Power Systems
Electric school bus

Is there anything dumber than loading our children aboard diesel powered
buses so they go to and from school in a haze of diesel exhaust fumes and
particulates? Everyone except Rush Limbaugh knows breathing in diesel
exhaust is bad for one’s health, yet every day millions of school children
are sentenced to respiratory disease and a potentially shorter life span
because of how they get to school and back. Motiv Power Systems has a better
way — electric school buses that eliminate diesel engines entirely.

Motiv Power is not in the business of making supercars or luxo-barges for
bigwigs. Its business is focused on large commercial vehicles — everything
from school buses to shuttle buses, delivery trucks, work trucks, and even
Class 8 trash trucks. At the start of this school year, 13 electric buses
with Motiv Power battery electric powertrains and manufactured by Trans Tech
will begin serving the Elk Grove Unified School District and Twin Rivers
Unified School District in the Sacramento area.

“As a father of three small children, it excites me that improving air
quality surrounding school transportation is increasingly within reach for
many fleets,” said Motiv Power Systems CEO Jim Castelaz. “The trend of
transitioning from diesel to zero emission busing is the future, and these
13 buses will be proof of that. We’re proud to be working with the
Sacramento City school district and hope that more school districts
throughout the country follow this movement.”

The experimental program was made possible by a $7.5M grant from the
California Air Resources Board. This is the board’s largest school bus grant
to date and was the only application approved of all those submitted to the
state grant program this year. “The Sacramento Regional School Bus
Deployment Project is a great example of how our climate policies are
reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating jobs here in California,”
said Senator Bob Wieckowski, the chair of the Senate Environmental Quality

His district includes the City of Hayward where Motiv Power Systems
manufactures its powertrains. “Motiv Power Systems all-electric powertrain
kits are increasing the number of students who are transported in zero
emission vehicles. This is especially beneficial to disadvantaged
communities where poor air quality has severe health impacts for many
residents. This grant puts us on the road to a cleaner California.”

Motiv Power Systems does not use lithium ion batteries for its electric bus
program. According to Rose Begonia, a spokesperson for the company, “The
chemistry that Motiv uses for its school bus batteries is sodium nickel.
It’s not a lithium family chemistry. It’s actually based on just sodium and
chlorine — so it’s table salt, sodium chloride — and nickel.

“The sodium nickel batteries are also thermally managed, so they don’t
derate in very hot weather or very cold weather. With lithium ion batteries,
unless they are thermally managed, which is uncommon in the bus and truck
and heavy vehicle industry, they derate pretty substantially in cold
weather.” They do not subject the children on board the buses to the risk of
fire associated with lithium ion batteries in some circumstances.

Motiv Power says its electric buses reduce operating expenses for fuel by as
much as 85% and cut maintenance costs by two thirds. That means the return
on investment for school bus operators is only six years. Four Motiv Power
electric buses are currently in operation in the San Joaquin Valley in
California. Two more Type C electric buses from Creative Bus Sales are on
their way to Los Angeles, where there performance will be evaluated with an
eye toward adding more electric buses to the city’s school bus fleet in the
[© 2017 Gas 2]
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