More electric buses are about to hit U.S. streets.
The cities of Minneapolis, Seattle, Boston and Los Angeles ordered a combined 100 buses equipped with an electric axle built by automotive supplier ZF Friedrichshafen. The electric drive axle can be paired to a battery-electric or hydrogen fuel cell powertrain as demand increases for emission-free buses.
The buses are part of a joint effort between ZF and Minnesota-based bus manufacturer New Flyer of America. New Flyer will build the buses, called the Xcelsior Charge. They will be equipped with the AxTrax AVE electric drive axle, designed by ZF specifically for buses.
The orders came from Metro Transit in Minneapolis, King County Metro Transit in Seattle, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in Boston and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
The vehicles will be delivered by 2020.
“The AxTrax AVE drive axle is an ideal solution for manufacturers and municipalities to shape their local inner-city traffic with zero emissions, while at the same time providing an attractive mobility offer,” said Fredrik Staedtler, head of commercial vehicle technology at ZF.
ZF began production of the electric axle in 2016. However, the new Xcelsior orders will mark its introduction to U.S. roads. The supplier in June laid out an ambitious plan to produce more electrified components for commercial vehicles at its headquarters in Friedrichshafen, Germany.
New Flyer will build the Xcelsior Charge at its plant in Aniston, Ala. All models with AxTrax AVE are 60 feet long. New Flyer also makes a 40-foot Xcelsior Charge that does not include the ZF axle.
The AxTrax AVE axle is also headed to London. It will be equipped in 31 electric double-decker buses there beginning in the summer of 2019, according to ZF.
Electrified buses are a hot topic. Manufacturers say higher up-front cost, compared with conventional diesel-powered buses, is offset by less maintenance and repairs.
“Electric buses are replacing diesels now,” Edward Jobson, vice president for electromobility for Volvo Trucks, told Trucks.com in June. The commercial vehicle manufacturer Motiv Power Systems currently has 20 electric buses in use in California school districts with orders for 20 more. Navistar International Corp. plans to sell its chargE electric school bus in 2019 or 2020.