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Cummins Answers 5 Questions on How Battery-Electric Buses Work

--News Direct--

Electric buses also offer improved driver comfort. This is because electric motors are much quieter and allow smooth handling. This improved driving experience reduces driver fatigue.

Battery-electric buses are gaining speed as an environmentally friendly form of transportation. But how exactly do they work? Here are the answers to five frequently asked questions:

1. What is an electric bus?

A battery-electric bus replaces the traditional combustion engine and transmission with an electric motor and a battery, which is essentially the fuel tank.  A high-voltage battery converts chemical energy into electrical energy, which is then distributed throughout all the components that make the bus run.

2. What is the range of a battery-electric bus?

The range depends on a variety of factors, including battery size and duty cycles. Bigger batteries can store more energy, which in turn can fuel longer distances. For example, transit buses typically require bigger batteries than school buses because they run for longer periods of time.

The second factor is the duty cycle. Duty cycles describe how a vehicle is used and helps determine performance and battery life. For buses, factors affecting the duty cycle include road conditions, driving conditions, vehicle speed, stops and starts, elevation changes, the frequency of acceleration, weight, weather and more. A lighter duty cycle requires less energy and thus can achieve a greater range.

3. How do electric buses charge?

Today, the two main types of chargers for an electric bus are:

  • Plug-in chargers

  • Pantograph chargers

Plug-in chargers for buses work very similarly to those for electric cars. Electric buses have ports that the driver can plug into. With this method, charging can take from two to eight hours, based on the charger's current.

A new, more autonomous charger is the pantograph charger. With this charger, buses drive underneath a charging station and robotic arms attach themselves to the electrical conductors on top of the vehicle to charge it. This charger is designed to carry more current for faster charging.

Cummins works hard to make its battery systems compatible with every leading charger available today.

4. Why are battery-electric buses becoming more popular?

Sustainability is the main driver. As governments implement tougher emissions regulations and corporations advance their sustainability goals, electric buses are frequently seen as a zero-emissions solution that can help cities and communities achieve their environmental objectives.

Electric buses also have instant torque that improves drivability and performance. Drivers can accelerate more responsively, with improved driver comfort because electric motors are quieter and allow for smooth handling.

5. Are electric buses cheaper?

While the initial cost of an electric bus isn’t cheaper than internal combustion engine buses, they are becoming more affordable. There are a number of incentive programs that buyers can take advantage of making electric buses about the same cost to a city or district as a conventional bus. 

Cost savings occur in the operation of electric fleets over time. They have lower maintenance and fuel costs. And electric buses also run more efficiently with regenerative braking, which simultaneously lowers the wear on the braking system and captures kinetic energy to feed back into the battery to extend the range.

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