SEA will convert 10,000 US school buses to electricity

Converting a Porsche 356C to electric is a challenge. There is little space for batteries, converters, etc. But converting a school bus? It’s as simple as falling off a log. A bus has acres of space for batteries and electronics to power an electric motor.

One of the dumbest ideas human beings have ever had was to seal school children in a diesel-powered bus for the ride to and from school. Check out our recent article on the impact of fossil fuel pollution on the human body. Among other things, it has been shown that fine particles in the exhaust gases of an internal combustion engine lower cognitive function. Who had the brilliant idea of ​​making school children walk twice a day in a cloud of diesel fumes when these same fumes complicate their learning?

Help may be on the way. SEA Electric, an electric utility vehicle supplier originally from Australia and now based in Los Angeles, has reached an agreement with Midwest Transit Equipment to convert 10,000 existing school buses to electric vehicles over the next five years. Midwest will supply the buses to be converted to the SEA Drive propulsion system. SEA Electric will perform the conversions using its “extensive network of upfitting partners,” Nick Casas, vice president of sales and marketing for SEA Electric, said in a press release.

Once the conversions are complete, the electric buses will have vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capability that will allow them to help balance the local power grid and “smart charging” when electricity prices are lowest. . The school buses to be converted belong to the American type A or type C school bus class. Type A is the smallest American school bus with a length of 6 to 7.5 meters and is based on a van chassis . Traditional Type C school buses are built on truck architectures.

SEA Electric claims that the conversion will extend the life of the buses by more than ten years and that two to three converted buses can be purchased for the price of a new electric bus. Mike Menyhart, Chief Strategy Officer at SEA Electric, says, “Secondary use of school buses with all-electric drivetrains makes perfect sense. This lowers costs, opens up tremendous availability, creates green jobs right here in the United States, while making a difference to the environment and the health of the communities we serve.

According to John McKinney, CEO of Midwest Transport Equipment, the partnership with SEA Electric will allow it to respond more quickly to customer needs. “As the industry moves towards zero emissions, we are well positioned with our SEA Electric partnership to be a leader in the electrification movement.”

According to Nick Casas, SEA Electric plans to expand its operations in the UK soon and intends to do business in six countries in Europe, including Germany, in the coming years. SEA announces delivery of more than 500 electric utility vehicles in 2021 and plans to put more than 15,000 electric vehicles on the roads by the end of 2023. Just a few weeks ago, SEA Electric announced an order for 1,150 electric trucks based on the Toyota Hino Cargo Van for California’s GATR Company.

SEA Electric recently announced an electric platform for a small truck that can be driven with a normal driver’s license. It also recently closed a $42 million funding round to further expand its business. The main investor in this round was Exro Technologies, a Canadian company.

Electric school buses make so much sense. No fumes to fog young brains, reduced maintenance costs and lower fuel costs are all pluses. Extending the life of an existing bus by a decade will obviously pay big dividends for school bus fleet operators like MTE. It’s a win/win/win situation for everyone involved, except perhaps the diesel mechanics. But the upside is that they can be retrained in EV servicing, a skill that will be increasingly in demand as the EV revolution gathers pace.

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