Updated: May 27, 2020
Published by METRO Magazine: Read the article.
August 23, 2019
Santa Monica Big Blue Bus (BBB), along with officials from the City, GILLIG, and Cummins, unveiled its first-ever battery electric bus — the first step toward the agency’s goal to have a completely zero-emission fleet by 2030.
The bus was built by GILLIG, in collaboration with Cummins, who designed and manufactured the electric propulsion system for the bus. BBB partnered with GILLIG and Cummins to develop a cutting-edge bus that uses state-of-the-art battery electric technology. After GILLIG unveiled its battery electric bus at an event in May, the new BBB vehicle is the first GILLIG battery electric bus with the Cummins electrified powertrain to be delivered to a transit operator.
The GILLIG battery electric bus has a battery capacity of 444 kWh, with company officials expecting a real-world range of 150 miles based on an energy usage of 2.3 kWh per mile. The buses feature a direct-drive traction motor with peak torque of 3500 Nm (2,582 lbs.-ft.), and utilize energy recovered from a regenerative braking system.
Equipped with six onboard batteries, the bus is powered by 100% renewable energy, and can be fully charged in under four hours, with a paired ChargePoint Express 250 installation.
“Over the years, Cummins and GILLIG have been phenomenal partners to our organization, which made it easy for us to methodically approach this new technology,” BBB’s Director of Transit Services Ed King told METRO Magazine at the event. “Many agencies have deployed electric bus fleets, but we haven’t because we chose to work with known partners.”
He added that the new battery electric bus is similar to about 80% of its current bus fleet, which is also built on GILLIG’s Low Floor platform, featuring Cummins Natural Gas engines.
“What that means is the parts are interchangeable in many cases and both our maintenance techs and bus operators know this vehicle very well, which in our minds are huge bonuses,” he said.
A long-time leader in sustainability, BBB first began transitioning its diesel vehicle fleet to natural gas in the 1990s, and using Cummins’ Near-Zero Emissions natural gas engines in 2013. The agency also switched to renewable natural gas in 2015.
Now, the agency and its board have set an aggressive timetable to move to a full zero-emission vehicle fleet by 2030, and plan to continue that evolution with the purchase of an additional 18 battery-electric buses by 2021.
“Today marks a major milestone in our zero-emissions journey and our first step in our transition to a clean energy fleet by 2030,” King said. “This will also mark a significant step toward preserving our environment and protecting our communities.”