Start-up To Bring Chinese EV Van to U.S. Market
Last week, a new startup called Chanje (pronounced “change”) jumped into the electric vehicle (EV) market, but not with a vehicle you might expect. In its inaugural press release, Chanje unveiled its first vehicle: a commercial, all-electric van called V8070 (their creative team might need a little help).
Chanje thinks its electric van will fit into the last-mile delivery market
The V8070 is nominally a Class 5 medium-duty panel van with about 580 cu.ft. of cargo space. Range is estimated at 65 miles with a full 6,000-lb payload and 100 miles with a 3,000-lb payload. The van uses dual rear-mounted electric motors with batteries mounted on the floor of the vehicle.
Chanje claims that, “The average urban delivery route in the U.S. is 70 miles a day, making last-mile delivery a perfect market for electric mobility.” This target market is a large niche (500,000 sales annually) that has not been successfully explored by any other major auto makers. In the past decades other startups (some of which are where Chanje executives had their first taste of the business) have made a run at producing electric trucks for this market, but none have survived. Currently, two major competitors are sniffing in this arena—Daimler subsidiary Mitsubhishi Fuso started production of an all-electric Class 4 truck, the eCanter, in Europe with plans to introduce it in the U.S. next month. In addition, Chinese automaker BYD has established a manufacturing facility in California and is offering an all-electric Class 5 truck (chassis only) for sale.
Chanje V8070 Specs & Background
The V8070 is estimated to achieve a 50 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent rating); according to Chanje, it could save customers an average of 70 percent in fuel costs by going full electric, although it will have a higher initial cost for the vehicle. the company focuses on the benefits of its vehicles rather than its specifications. It has said the van has a 7.2 kW on-board charger and uses a J1772 standard charger, the same one used on light-duty vehicles. It will carry a 70 kWh battery powering dual rear electric motors. The motors have a combined 198 horsepower, but more important, deliver 564 pounds-feet of torque. The van’s top speed is 80 mph, but it can take on a 30 percent grade. It rides on 215/75R17.5 tires and features an independent front suspension and leaf spring rear. A key delivery number is its 26.6-foot turning radius.
Backed by Hong Kong’s FDG Electric Vehicles, Chanje has already received a $1 billion investment from FDG to bring the V8070 to mass production by the end of the year. While its current manufacturing facility is in Hangzhou, China, Chanje is looking to open a facility somewhere in the western United States.
The dash for the Chanje van is modern
The commercial fleet management company, Ryder, has already partnered with Chanje and has placed an initial order for the V8070. The first portion of Chanje vehicles will be sent to Ryder locations around the country; available for ChoiceLease customers. A second portion of the vehicles will be added to Ryder’s commercial rental fleet; available to customers for short-term rentals.
While big time delivery services like United Postal Service and Federal Express are the ultimate target for Chanje vans, those larger companies will likely wait and see how the V8070 fares in smaller markets before putting their own money down. In the interim, Chanje executives have said they will target smaller fleets, which the affiliation with Ryder could help.
While the V8070 is currently only available in one size, Chanje plans to offer a diverse range of EV vans in multiple configurations and sizes. Pricing for the V8070 is a bit vague and has not been officially announced yet.
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B1 EV Sports Utility Truck Aims for Work/Play Niche
Good ideas don’t always seem attractive at first glance—ugly sweater parties, for example, or your neighbor’s pug. But dig a little deeper and you might find yourself wondering why you decided to get a poodle. That is the case with new American startup Bollinger Motors.
Passing the 4×8 test
Earlier this week, Bollinger unveiled its new fully electric B1 “Sports Utility Truck” at Manhattan’s Classic Car Club. Reminiscent of Top Gear’s Hammerhead Eagle i-Thrust, the B1 is not exactly a “looker”; but it doesn’t seem to be lying on its resume either.
Based in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York, founder Robert Bollinger wanted to build an electric vehicle that focused more on what it could do, rather than what statement the car could make.
“I envisioned the [B1] as the ultimate truck for work and play,” said Bollinger, “The perfect truck for ranchers, builders, DIYers and off-roaders, but without the environmental effects and carbon footprint of a traditional gas-powered SUV.”
Basic Analog Truck
With the B1, Bollinger also wanted to find a different, and ironically more analog, side of the EV industry. The B1 will be available with an AM/FM receiver, Bluetooth connectivity, and an AUX input, but no touchscreen.
Back to basics interior
Other than the head unit, the dashboard will be almost completely analog; even including an analog battery level indicator; the only digital display being a small LCD screen that shows outside temperature, range and MPGe.
Despite its lumbering looks, the B1’s dual-motor drivetrain is rated at 360 horsepower and 472 pound-feet of torque; good enough to move the two-ton truck from 0-60 miles per hour in 4.5 seconds.
According to Bollinger, the B1 will be available with two battery options—a 60 kWh battery good for about 120 miles of range and a 100 kWh battery good for about 200 miles of range.
In terms of utility, the B1 lives up to its ethos with a front trunk (because there is no engine taking up space), removable rear seats, and 15 1/2 inches of ground clearance that can be raised or lowered by five inches using the truck’s self-leveling, four-wheel independent hydro-pneumatic suspension.
Pricing for the B1 has not been officially set, but it should cost somewhere around $60,000. B1’s can currently be reserved online with no obligation, however a down payment will likely be required at a later date.
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Adomani Flies High After IPO
If you’re one of a growing group that feels that school buses are lagging behind in automotive technological and environmental progress. Electric school buses would be cool, right, but are they practical? So who’s making them?
Adomani sees the future of school buses as electric
How about a company called Bluebird, the number one school bus manufacturer in the country. With the help of Adomani Inc., a California company, Bluebird has added an electric school bus to its repetoire.
Jim Reynolds, president and CEO of Adomani, just led his company through an IPO as a follow-on to the company’s crowd-funding start up. The IPO netted the company $9.2 million. As Reynolds told Clean Fleet Report in a recent interview, the money will be used to take an R&D company to a stage where its technology can be commercialized.
Specifically, the money is being used to develop a new school 72-passenger bus product. Adomani has demonstrated the capability of its technology in various government-sponsored projects, but now hopes to see its products picked as the winner in bids in Southern California. The company is aiming to have the capacity to build 200 buses a year.
The second project Adomani has on its plate is to develop electric drivetrains for Class 6/7/8 products—trucks and transit buses, Class 4/5 cab-over trucks, walk-in delivery vehicles (a market that has already claimed several EV startups) and shuttle buses.
Adomani uses LiFePO4 (lithium-ion phosphate) battery chemistry, but can also source other chemistries. They have developed a system that reuses the original buses’ OEM transmission, cooling system, power steering, air brake system and alternators-12/24-volt systems. That helps keep the electric bus costs down.
Adomani’s yellow buses plug in
Batteries are still the biggest cost in an electric bus, but Adomani can offer school districts two options—increased mileage (beyond the basic 100 miles/day package) or reduced costs.
The company has no sales yet (as of the last quarter)—and it will need them soon to avoid the fate of earlier companies in this segment. Right now Adomani and any others in this end of the business are dependent on government subsidies and mandates to push these vehicles into the market. Adomani is also building a dealer/service network to support the expected sales and is certified to receive incentives from the state of California. The buses themselves have been well-received when they are in place, but also require new infrastructure in many cases.
So in the end what may seem like the obvious next step for school buses is going to take some time, but it’s already started.
Electric & Fuel Cell Trucks Highlighted at Show
The 2017 ACT Expo, held earlier this month (May 1-4, 2017) in Long Beach, California, has always had the promotion of advanced clean transportation (hence it’s title) as its main focus. In the past, that focus has meant natural gas as the main alternative to diesel or gasoline in medium and heavy-duty vehicles.
This year’s show saw more buzz about electric and fuel cell trucks than in the past as some major companies are entering the market and several smaller ones have products in development.
BYD Electric Trucks
Top of the list is the Chinese automotive manufacturer BYD, best known in the U.S. for being 10 percent owned by Warren Buffet. The company, which started life as a battery company, has seen some success in China selling a variety of electric and non-electric cars. It is staking its future on electric power, showing a fully electric Class 8 refuse truck chassis at ACT Expo. The company also showcased a 60-foot articulated battery-powered transit bus (that model complements the company’s 30-, 35- and 40-foot buys currently available). Finally, BYD also showed a Class 8 battery electric terminal tractor.
BYD’s lineup of electric trucks
BYD pitched its electric models as capable of functioning alongside diesel or CNG models while saving on operating costs.
Kenworth Tests Two
Kenworth to test fuel cell big rig
Another major U.S truck manufacturer, Kenworth, used ACT Expo to announce its plans to build and test two variations of zero or near-zero emission heavy-duty trucks for port use. One will feature a fuel cell power train from Ballard creating electricity for a fuel-rotor electric motor. The second prototype will use a Cummings Westport ISL G near-zero ISL G natural gas engine to generate electricity for an electric motor the powers the truck. Both of these trucks are expected to be in operation in the fourth quarter of 2017 in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
This comes on the heels of Toyota showing off a Class 8 truck powered by a scaled up version of the fuel cell pack from Toyota’s Mirai sedan. Another fuel cell big rig from US Hybrid was also showcased at the 2017 ACT Expo.
Workhorse Shows Two
The Workhorse W-15 aims to be the first mass-produced plug-in hybrid pickup
A startup company, Workhorse, also grabbed some headlines at ACT Expo. The busy company introduced a prototype plug-in hybrid pickup, along with a partnership with Ryder System on that pickup and also announced orders for separate electric delivery vans for UPS that are designed to work with drones for the final step of package delivery. Workhorse introduced the W-15 plug-in hybrid half-ton pickup and said that it had received more than 2,150 letters of intent to buy the vehicle, which will feature an 80-mile all-electric range. The company also announced it has delivered a hydrogen fuel cell-powered chassis for a DOE (Department of Energy) project.
UPS also showed off its first hydrogen fuel cell-powered Class 6 delivery vehicle, which will be deployed in Sacramento, Calif., to validate its design and performance. If that initial deployment is successful, additional trucks will be built.
At Clean Fleet Report we don’t believe there is any point in going in depth on the details on these prototype and future potential vehicles. The path to this point is littered with companies with stories similar to those above, all of which never reached a point of becoming a successful vehicle or company. The point is not whether technologies like fuel cells or battery power or plug-in technology can be applied in the heavy-duty truck segment, but whether these advanced technologies can be commercially viable. We’re not saying we have yet reached a tipping point in a shift to heavy-duty electric vehicles, but the movement and advances in that area reached a high water mark at the 2017 ACT Expo.
That said, we’ll be following these developments closely and will report on those vehicles and companies which have news, keeping in mind the bigger picture of both the overall market and how these new technologies might find a home there.
No Emissions from Parking to the Plane
For the eco-minded living in the Los Angeles area, WallyPark shuttling service now offers battery electric shuttle bus service from its off-site parking location to catch a flight at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), making it the first all-electric airport parking service in the country.
WallyPark, owned by the L&R Group of Companies, purchased 16 Zero Emissions Utility Shuttle (ZEUS) buses for its Los Angeles facility as part of a 50-unit order from Phoenix Motor Cars, an Ontario, Calif.–based developer of electric vehicles for the fleet market.
Zero emission shuttle now available at LAX
“We are pleased to partner with Phoenix Motor Cars as we electrify our fleet of buses. We are committed to this technology and to providing our customers with a superior driving experience,” said L&R Head of Operations, Ed Pomponio.
Each bus carries up to 14 passengers and their luggage between the airport’s terminals and the WallyPark parking location, about a four-mile roundtrip.
Phoenix Motor Cars said each of the shuttles is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 60 tons of carbon dioxide per year compared with a conventional diesel shuttle. The buses have fast-charging capability, allowing full charging to take place in less than three hours.
L&R operates airport shuttle services in 10 major metropolitan areas across the nation, including Joe’s Airport Parking. It will soon add electric shuttle buses to San Diego International and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International airports.
Plug-in Technology Gets Used to Get Kids to School
Still yellow, but now without a tailpipe
Plug-in hybrids and pure electric passenger cars get the lion’s share of attention here at About.com’s Hybrid & Electric Cars web site. But there is a growing interest in electrified commercial vehicles as well. That includes a vehicle type built for a very important purpose—transporting children to and from school.
The 480,000 school buses in operation that carry 25 million children to school every day makes the collective school bus fleet the largest form of mass transportation in America. Making those buses more fuel efficient would go a long way to not only reduce oil consumption, it would also reduce harmful emissions given that more than half of this fleet is powered by aging diesel engines.
A Silicon Valley firm, Motiv Power Systems, is tackling the issue. Headquartered in Fremont, California, Motiv has teamed with Creative Bus Sales to market a new electric bus design. Called the Starcraft e-Quest XL, the zero-emission school bus will use a Motiv All-Electric Powertrain, a Ford F59 chassis and a body built by Starcraft Bus.
According to Motiv, features of the e-Quest XL bus include passenger capacity of up to 48, a range of up to 85 miles, and 50 percent charge within two hours.
Starcraft Bus is North America’s largest shuttle bus company, and Creative Bus Sales is Starcraft’s top selling dealer. This partnership also includes Chino, California, based Green Alternative Systems, the nation’s largest fleet conversion company. The company converts Ford commercial vehicles to operate on compressed natural gas (CNG) and propane, and now will work with Motiv Power’s electric powertrains as well.
“Developing more options for all-electric school buses offers more opportunities for school districts to reduce harmful pollutants near children, who are especially vulnerable to health impacts from diesel emissions,” said Motiv founder and CEO Jim Castelaz.
“We’re thrilled to be working with Creative Bus Sales to help improve conditions for students’ health, save districts on fuel costs, and support California’s environmental goals.”
A spokesperson for Motiv said that deliveries of the new e-Quest XL are expected to begin this summer (2016).
Not the First Electric School Bus
In 2014 Motiv collaborated with bus manufacturer SST Trans Tech and the California Air Resources Board (CARB)—the regulatory body in charge of the state’s emissions rules—to build two
The kids can board and breathe in the first electric school bus in the U.S.
electric buses for California’s Kings Canyon Unified School District. CARB contributed $400,000 in cost-saving vouchers to the project.
When the first bus entered service, it was billed as the first all-electric school bus operating in the U.S.
The buses are modified SST Trans Tech models based on a Ford E450 van chassis. Motiv’s electric Powertrain Control System (ePCS), battery packs and electric motors were installed to replace the engine and transmission. Available with 80 or 100 miles of range, the SST-e buses can accommodate 25 students, or 18 students with a wheelchair lift and configurable track seating for up to three wheelchairs.
Electric school buses aren’t cheap; the Kings Canyon School District paid $230,000 a pop for the two buses, which is about twice as much as a comparable gasoline- or diesel-powered bus. But electric buses offer long-term savings such as lifelong fuel and maintenance costs, not to mention the reduction of greenhouse gases as well as criteria pollutants like soot.
The two electric buses are estimated to save the school district around 16 gallons of fuel a day, which equates to a total annual savings of $11,000 for each bus. For a school district like Kings Canyon, which serves one of the largest geographical areas in California, those savings are quite significant.
All Motiv-powered vehicles work with the Motiv Universal Fast Charger. This proprietary creation offers higher power than a standard Level 2 charger, but is not as expensive as a DC fast charging station; $3,000 instead of a $30,000-$50,000 fast charger.
Buying new electric school buses is more costly up front than buying traditional diesel or gasoline buses (much as is seen in light-duty vehicles). But, when factors like lower fuel and maintenance costs, along with government incentives and grants, are taken into consideration, these benefits will end up saving school districts money in the long term.
But there is an added benefit to electric school buses: The kids that ride them every day aren’t exposed to the harmful diesel-exhaust emissions of older buses.
Diesel-exhaust emissions are particularly harmful to children. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), diesel emissions can lead to allergies, respiratory illnesses such as asthma, heart disease and an increased risk of cancer. A recent study also suggests that lessening bus emissions can have a positive effect on absenteeism.
Tougher emission standards are helping with this, but when older buses need replacing it’s now possible for school districts to move away from diesel and gasoline entirely to emissions-free electric buses. If you want to help, contact your local school district to find out what their transportation plan is and express your interest in electric buses.
To set a good example, when you are waiting at school to pick up your kids from a club meeting or soccer practice, turn off the engine of your car unless you have a plug-in as well.