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Friday, Mar 24, 2023
Mugglehead Magazine
Alternative investment news based in Vancouver, B.C.

Alternative Energy

GreenPower Motor Company launches electric bus pilot in West Virginia

The pilot project is being implemented in cooperation with Governor Jim Justice and the West Virginia Department of Economic Development.

Image courtesy of GreenPower.

GreenPower Motor Company (NASDAQ:GP) launched its all-electric school buses in school transportation operation pilot project in West Virginia, starting with Cabell, Kanawha and Mercer Counties, today.

The first buses in each county will bring children safely to school without contamination from Nox emissions. The pilot project is being implemented in cooperation with Governor Jim Justice and the West Virginia Department of Economic Development. It includes three all-electric Greenpower Type D BEAST school buses which will be used the week of Sept. 5 in the three listed counties, along with the required charging infrastructure. A fourth pilot bus using the Type A Nano BEAST with ADA capabilities will be rolled out in Clay County in the coming weeks.

“West Virginia is a perfect location for the first true pilot project of all-electric, purpose-built, zero-emission school buses. The terrain, weather conditions and the combination of rural and urban settings will give a real-life demonstration of the school buses’ capabilities. The only way for school districts to become comfortable with the new technology is through hands-on experience,” said Fraser Atkinson, CEO of GreenPower.

GreenPower is in the business of designing, building and distributing both high and low floor all-electric medium and heavy-duty vehicles, which include transit and school buses, shuttles, cargo vans and a cab and chassis. The company uses a clean-sheet design in its manufacturing of all-electric vehicles that can be purpose built to be battery powered with zero emissions and making use of global suppliers for components. The company has been on the TSX since November 2015 and gave its initial public offering in the United States on the NASDAQ in August 2020.

There are approximately 2,900 school buses in operation in the state, responsible for moving 220,000 kindergarten to grade 12 public students in 55 public school districts. This represents 75 per cent of the total students enrolled, making it the tenth highest school rate in the nation, according to the most recent School Bus Fleet Fact Book.

The school buses consist right now of traditional internal combustion engines and presently there aren’t any electric school buses in operation.

“Our school district is always searching for new, innovative ways to serve our students and communities. We are honored to have been chosen to participate in the state’s electric school bus pilot program. West Virginia has long been a dominant force in the energy economy, and, as new technologies are adopted, we want to do everything we can to support that continued leadership far into the future. Electric school buses like the ones utilized for this pilot program will soon be manufactured right here in West Virginia. No one can do it better, and I cannot wait to see the multitude of benefits this investment will yield for the deserving people of the Mountain State,” said Dr. Ryan Saxe, Cabell County Schools Superintendent.

The pilot project came at the behest of Gov. Jim Justice in June, who directed his Secretary of Economic Development, Mitch Carmichael, to work with GreenPower to find a way to provide real-world testing of the vehicles in both urban and rural areas of the state. The intent here was to gain some understanding of the challenges that would come from using all-electric school buses.

The testing period is six weeks for each county and then each bus will rotate to a different county to demonstrate the buses in different parts of the state. The data collected will be helpful to West Virginia, as well as schools and school districts across the nation, which will grow to understand more about EV school buses and potentially deploy them in their fleets on a more permanent basis.

“Governor Justice’s forward thinking in directing this pilot is another effort by him and his administration to become an all-of-the-above energy state. GreenPower appreciates his efforts along with his staff at Education and Economic Development in making this possible,” said Atkinson.

Some of the data GreenPower will be looking to collect includes range, charging infrastructure requirements, handling and manoeuvrability, operating and maintenance costs and savings, public acceptance and more. The data will help districts ease through the transitional period.

Read more: The Mugglehead technology roundup: future transportation edition

Read more: Autonomous trucking is close to becoming a reality

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