‘New chargers on the market: A game changer for coaches?

I was very interested to read the article published last month written by UKCOA Managing Director Peter Bradley, who makes two very important points.

Firstly, that this decade will bring about a level of change far greater than anything the industry has previously seen and, secondly, that one of the key obstacles to overcome is the availability of electric power at operators’ premises.

While we don’t fully know what the future of zero-emission coaching looks like, especially for long-distance operation, it is certain that battery-electric coaches and buses will have a large part to play.

The common theme we are seeing at present is enquiries from companies that do not want to risk waiting too long before starting to evaluate zero-emission coach operation.

Current enquiries are almost all for base-to-base battery-electric coach operation – the coach leaves its operating base fully charged and returns after a day’s work without the need for out-of-depot charging.

Until recently, the main obstacle has been the base charging infrastructure, in particular the power supply needed for a large DC charger similar to the ones bus operators use.

However, this year Pelican has introduced two new smaller DC chargers to open up the use of a smaller number of vehicles at operator bases.

The TCe12 has a range of about 200 miles and is now supplied with a 42kW DC charger as standard. This requires a 63 amp three-phase supply, and to date all the potential installations at reasonable sized depots have this level of supply available or, if not, the incoming supply can be increased without any cable work.

This charger will give an 85% recharge in about six hours, making coach operation viable.

In addition, we also have a 20kW DC charger which is the size of a small case and requires only a 32 amp three-phase supply. Any premises with three-phase power will have this supply, which will allow a full recharge in 12 hours. It is probably not viable to run a coach with this charge speed, but existing operators can buy this charger for back up.

We believe these chargers, which also charge battery-electric cars and vans, will be a game changer, allowing coach operators to dip a toe in the water with battery-electric without any additional infrastructure expenditure and start to gain vital knowledge about electric operation.

There should also be a clear opportunity for early adopters of battery-electric coaches to charge certain customers a premium price for their use.

Richard Crump
Managing Director, Pelican Bus and Coach
Castleford.