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Australian tech to electrify American buses

EV specialist SEA Electric strikes major deal to equip American buses with electric powertrains

Australian automotive technology company SEA Electric has partnered with Midwest Transit Equipment (MTE), America’s largest bus dealer, to convert 10,000 school buses to electric power. 

The new partnership, which will entail the buses being converted to electric power over the next five years, is reputedly the largest deal of its kind globally. 

Updating the buses to electric power will allow MTE to provide customers with a nearly new electric bus at a far more affordable price. 

Reputedly, up to three converted buses can be delivered for the same cost as one all-new electric bus, helping make the zero-emission option more viable and desirable for a wider array of customers. 

“This commitment is the most significant in this segment to date,” said Tony Fairweather, founder and CEO of SEA Electric. 

The converted buses will have their service life extended by ten years, minimising waste

“It not only illustrates the appetite for transition to 100 per cent electric transport, it defines the point-in-time that the commercial vehicle industry transitioned to sustainable scale, without the need for incentives.”

The buses will be retrofitted with SEA Electric’s proprietary SEA-Drive power system, which is a flexible and upgradable turn-key electric power package.

Each SEA-Drive power system includes components such as a motor, batteries, charging solution, hardware for cabin heating and cooling, and options such as telematics support. 

The buses will additionally be outfitted with vehicle-to-grid support, allowing them to feed power back into the grid to improve its stability. 

Currently, SEA-Drive is employed in light-, medium- and heavy-duty commercial applications, on four continents and in six countries, and over 1.5 million kilometres of testing and use have been recorded. 

South East Queensland is earmarked to have a 100 per cent electric bus fleet by 2025

The ongoing development and deployment of the supporting infrastructure required for electric buses will further help expedite the shift to electric public transport throughout the world.

In Queensland, Australia, for example, the first all-electric bus depot is due to be in service by February 2023. 

The depot, which will power 16 zero-emission buses, will be operated by transit company Keolis Downer and serve over 60,000 residents in the northern suburbs.

Siemens has been selected to supply the support and hardware for the depot, including charging units from its flexible UC family of electric bus and truck depot chargers. 

“With electric bus technology developing at a fast pace, bus operators require holistic charging and depot management solutions that we can rely on to grow alongside the technology it powers and market demand,” said David Franks, CEO of Keolis Downer. 

“Siemens provides a world-class platform, enabling us to scale up quickly and meet the expectations of our passengers.”

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