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Old 11-15-2020, 02:20 PM   #1
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Electric Bus Conversion?

Hi everyone,

Im a Skoolie newbie (family of four me, DH, DS, and DD) and Ive just joined the forums having spent years talking as a family about getting an RV but holding back for various reasons. We finally decided to start serious planning earlier in the year, and having originally wanted a class A RV, we realized pretty quickly that a school bus conversion would be much better.

Ideally wed love an electric bus, but we know that there are very few electric school buses out there, and almost none used as most are still in service. I found a few threads from last year discussing electric buses, and Ive read a lot about various financial support from governments for school districts who purchase school buses, but there also seems to be a lot of discussion that many of the ROI models for electric buses are actually unrealistic. I get that the debate can go either way, but what Im keen to know is when people think a used market for electric buses might emerge?

I know there would still be problems most obviously range and battery technology, and what exists (or will exist) of a charging infrastructure in various places but we dont want to rule out the possibility of getting and converting an electric bus just yet.

Does anyone have inside info on the used electric bus market and the feasibility of converting and running one full time?

Thanks!

(I didn't put this in the Electrical Forum as I figured it's more about a conversion than electrical systems, but please move it if I've got that wrong!)
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Old 11-15-2020, 02:51 PM   #2
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I have wanted to build one, as they can hold literally tons of batteries and have a big roof for solar panels. I looked at one that is available. Why do you want one? Or you just want to talk about why they are not practical?
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Old 11-15-2020, 04:06 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MuseliMom View Post
but what Im keen to know is when people think a used market for electric buses might emerge?

I don't have an answer for this, but I think there are a few very important underlying questions to consider. (1) Why do fleets sell vehicles? (2) How does the cost/benefit of buying a used fleet operated skoolie change moving from Diesel to Electric? If the answer to question #1 is they sell them at about the point that the average bus is 'worn out' and will start costing more to repair and keep than to replace, how does this calculation change with electric engines which can supposedly run much longer, but batteries will eventually wear out and possibly other components. What are the financial implications of this. Finally most people buying a used skoolie expect it'll need some work, sometimes substantial, will this be the same with electric busses and if so can it be DIY'ed, and are their non-fleet mechanics who can do this type of work for a reasonable amount of money (or will there be in the near future).





Quote:

I know there would still be problems most obviously range and battery technology, and what exists (or will exist) of a charging infrastructure in various places but we dont want to rule out the possibility of getting and converting an electric bus just yet.

I think the practical implications of this line of inquiry rest a lot on how and where you will use your bus.


But one thing I would consider, from what I've heard the model for electric skoolies rests on the pattern of them basically being used for a few hours, twice a day, with a potential charge between uses. I would investigate what there total range between charges is.
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Old 11-15-2020, 04:52 PM   #4
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I think battery electric buses are more prevalent in city buses than school buses for a number of reasons. Nevertheless, several cities have had mixed results with them. Albuquerque tried electric buses a few years back and ended up returning them, buying 50% more diesel buses for the same price. Minneapolis has found their battery range to be severely reduced in winter which makes them more expensive yet less productive from an ROI perspective. Indianapolis has just launched an electric bus route in the last couple years and before it even went live they had a similar experience with cold weather range prompting the vendor to pony up for in-route rapid chargers at the bus stops.

The decisions are usually financial in nature and more often than not the electric bus proves less attractive in the long run because of their high investment cost. If they can get down in price to be closer to conventional diesel buses then the minor cost premium will be offset by the fuel savings but so far it doesn't seem that has proven a significant enough incentive. If a municipal transportation authority has enough environmental motivation to keep losing money then they'll keep the buses but so far it seems like the electric buses get returned to the vendor within a few years and almost never end up on the secondary market.

The last school bus I recall seeing mentioned here was a hybrid-electric diesel which seemed cool in principle but the fact that it was only about 6 years old and already retired means there's probably an irreconcilable flaw in the architecture. It was probably a headache to maintain and once the warranty went out they didn't want to bother with it. It'll also be a pain in the backside for anyone who buys it aftermarket because it'll be so exotic even most dealerships won't be able to work on it.
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Old 11-15-2020, 05:07 PM   #5
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Batteries and various occasional electrical malfunctions, will probably outweigh any fuel saved over a conventional combustion engine. I've seen fairly new hybrid conventional vehicles junked over a $5,000 battery pack replacement, I can only imagine what it would cost with something like a bus.
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Old 11-15-2020, 05:33 PM   #6
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This was a thread 2 months ago. https://www.skoolie.net/forums/f49/e...lie-33130.html
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Old 11-15-2020, 05:41 PM   #7
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Thanks for the replies everyone.

We had sort of figured an electric bus would not ever be a realistic option to hope for on our timescale (we're keen to do our conversion and travels as a family before me and DH become empty nesters!), so we'll keep our research (and search) focused on regular buses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BeNimble View Post
I have wanted to build one, as they can hold literally tons of batteries and have a big roof for solar panels. I looked at one that is available. Why do you want one? Or you just want to talk about why they are not practical?
We would like an electric bus as we're believers in electric vehicles and cleaner technologies, and it would be great to have an energy efficient bus, particularly with the possibility of solar panel installation. That said, we know electric vehicle technology, however good currently, would need a lot of development and more specialization before becoming a feasible option for mass bus purchase and use. Therefore we also recognize that a used electric school bus market is a long way off. When you add in the considerations which others have mentioned here too - maintenance costs, etc. - for now, it remains a wish!
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