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CAPITOL HEIGHTS, Md. — Krystal Infinity aims to generate some new buzz about electric vehicles with the launch this year of its EVolution all-electric mini-bus.
As the only electric mini-bus of its size so far on the U.S. market, the KK38 EVolution is leading the charge against current perceptions that electric vehicles are too expensive and impractical for fleet operators.
True, the EVolution has a base price of $459,000, but when conservative estimates of return-on-investment (ROI) are factored in, along with myriad intangible benefits, the EVolution can be a reasonable investment when used for shuttle routes. ROI numbers are only set to improve in the next five years as battery technology becomes more efficient and expected increases in demand for electric buses will bring better production-related economies of scale.
“The basis is the route you are driving on — how many miles will you drive in a year?” says David Webb, president of Capitol Coachworks Inc. in Capitol Heights, Md., the exclusive distributor of the KK38 EVolution. “The best application is a shuttle one. If you don’t put miles on it, you won’t have the savings.”
Webb debuted the EVolution, the first zero emissions all-electric mid-sized shuttle bus, to the federal government July 25-26 at the 11th annual National Motor Vehicle and Aviation Training Exposition (FedFleet 2011) in Orlando, Fla. The expo is considered the largest national transportation event for the federal government agencies that contract for vehicles.
The 38-foot long plug-in electric vehicle, based on the Krystal KK38 bus model, is capable of a 150-mile range under average loads with a maximum speed of 65 mph. The bus has immediate torque and a maximum speed of 72 mph, but by setting the governor at 65 mph, it can extend the batteries.
Since LCTMag.com first reported the Krystal EVolution debut on July 27, Webb spoke to LCT Magazine for this issue about the future of electric buses and provided some back-of-the-envelope estimates on energy savings and ROI for operators.
Webb underscores the point that ROI will only go up in coming years, but beyond any hard-nosed cost-benefit analysis, there is a vast set of intangible ROIs for an electric bus that cannot be quantified. “The most obvious advantage is environmental because of the gases not being spewed into the atmosphere,” Webb says. “You also have a quieter and smoother ride than fossil fuel buses. It’s a more comfortable experience for the riders.”
FYI: EVolution Tech Specs
The EVolution is built on a commercial International chassis. Before the Krystal steel roll cage body is mounted, the engine and accessory drive systems are removed and replaced with a 230-volt AC continuous primary drive and a 40 kW liquid-cooled flux vector motor controller accessory drive. Under a fast charge, the batteries can fully recover in less than one hour. The shuttle bus also has sealed electrically isolated battery modules that do not produce any gases, and a drive train free of any emissions. Krystal has set up a national technical support network for its electric and hybrid diesel electric buses.
Electric Bus Outlook
- The global market for electric buses and taxis will rise 8.7 times in the next 10 years to $60 billion annually.
- There are 480,000 non-motorcoach buses worldwide and 135,000 being bought for fleets each year. So far, only 12% worldwide are electric.
- There are 53 pure electric bus manufacturers worldwide. Krystal Infinity is the only one in the U.S.
Source: IDTechex.com Report on electric buses and taxis 2011-2021