ABC Companies completed its recent Phase II Zero Emissions Cross Country Tour, “Charge On America,” driven by Illinois’ Peoria Charter.
Piloted by Peoria Charter’s James Wang, the “Charge On America” tour departed from ABC’s Newark, Calif., facility on July 26, 2023, covering over 2,800 miles and arriving at ABC HQ in Wintergarden, Fla., on August 7.
The entire trip was documented on the “Motorcoach World” YouTube channel, which Wang began and now has over 28,000 followers from around the globe. Joined by co-driver Dennis Utley, also from Peoria Charter, and four other family members, the voyagers experienced first-hand the unique benefits and challenges of battery-electric travel.
Despite grueling weather conditions, including triple-digit temperatures and interoperability, availability, and capacity issues within the public infrastructure grid, the Van Hool TDX25E 45-foot double-deck coach posted impressive stats throughout the journey, according to ABC Companies.
As captured by real-time telematics, the vehicle met or exceeded all parameters along the route, including projected mileage of 285 miles per full charge, based on 2.14 kWh per mile. Thirty-four charging sessions were recorded for a total of 69 charging hours. The trip consumed 6,419 kW and reduced CO2 emissions by 9,842.7 lbs. versus a comparable clean diesel motorcoach travelling the same route.
“Our biggest hurdle was finding dependable charging for a vehicle of this size, as these coaches are typically used for regional service. This cross-country challenge underscored the need for a more reliable, robust, and strategically available public charging system that can accommodate medium and heavy commercial equipment like the Van Hool TDX25E,” said Wang.
It was also noted that most charging depots along the route are simply not designed for larger vehicles, creating access and maneuverability issues, and wait times for other vehicles.
“Even an electric pick-up pulling a trailer would be hard pressed to use these charging depots,” explained Wang. “In many instances, the chargers were not operational, and this was reinforced by countless encounters of passenger cars experiencing the same issues as the motorcoach. The lack of reliability meant we would rarely go below 50% charge for fear we would arrive at a charging station that was inoperable and need to travel further.”
The ABC Tour
Relying solely on the public grid for charging needs, the ABC Companies “Charge On America” tour experienced innumerable challenges at stops along the route. While technically advanced high-capacity EVs like the Van Hool 45-foot double-deck motorcoach have enormous potential to reduce carbon emissions, it is difficult to envision broad EV adoption for operators who need to travel longer distances utilizing the public charging ecosystem, according to the company.
“Our vehicle technology is in place for EV adoption,” said Thom Peebles, VP, marketing at ABC Companies. “However, our road tests are proving again and again the disparity between EV equipment readiness and a consistent, reliable charging experience using the existing grid.”
ABC said as it set out to demonstrate on this cross-country challenge, there is much room for improvement. With insights and data compiled from the tour, ABC is focused on increasing awareness about the growing need for future public investment in EV infrastructure for medium and heavy-duty equipment.
The company said it continues to see strong demand in EV sales, as it also continues to offer clean diesel for operators needing flexibility to travel outside routine routes and to cover long distances over the road.