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Motiv all-electric powertrain specs.

Motiv electric powertrain paired with Ford chassis, Starcraft bus body

Motiv Power Systems and bus dealership Creative Bus, Inc. recently announced a partnership to build a new all-electric school bus, which will have a similar look and drivability as existing QuestXL buses. Called the Starcraft e-Quest XL, the zero-emission school bus will use the Motiv all-electric powertrain, a Ford F59 chassis, and Starcraft body. The Ford F59 chassis is the same as that used for existing Quest XLs, making it easier for bus drivers and maintenance crews to service the vehicle, according to Motiv founder and CEO Jim Castelaz.

“The only thing that is different [from QuestXL buses] is how it’s powered,” Castelaz told SAE Magazines. “Instead of a combustion engine, the e-QuestXL is equipped with an all-electric powertrain. This powertrain also powers the bus HVAC. The chassis and body configurations are all the same as the fossil fuel version.”

These similarities aid with system integration, particularly since Motiv already has integrated its all-electric powertrain with the F59 chassis.

“Using this F59 chassis dramatically reduces the integration challenges,” said Castelaz. “Motiv and GAS (Green Alternative Systems) are going through additional engineering, testing, and validation to ensure the vehicle meets the more rigorous crash test and safety standards customary to the school bus industry, even when these standards may not be legally required. Our Type-A school bus, built on a Ford E450 chassis with Trans Tech Bus, passed these tests with flying colors.”

Motiv also employs off-the-shelf motors, batteries, and components to build its all-electric powertrains. The only proprietary components are the software and hardware controllers, according to Castelaz.

The electric powertrain option adds about 2000 lb (907 kg) versus the gasoline version of the vehicle. “For this reason, we use the highest GVWR version of the F59 chassis available form Ford, which has a GVWR of 22,000 pounds and allows for maximum student capacity,” Castelaz explained.

Features of the e-Quest XL bus include capacity of up to 48 passengers, a range of up to 85 mi (137 km), and a 50% charge within 2 h and full charge in 8 h. (See full powertrain specs above by clicking on arrow at top right of image.)

The companies expect completion of the first bus this summer.

The partnership will allow Green Alternative Systems, the Chino, CA-based fleet conversion company, to add Motiv to its portfolio of available alternative fuel systems for fleets across the country.

“After making our mark with compressed natural gas upfits, we are thrilled to be able to collaborate with Motiv and offer an all-electric option to our customers,” Mark Matijevich, General Manager of GAS, said in a statement announcing the project. “Greening the nation’s fleets is not a one-size-fits-all solution; between CNG, propane, and now an all-electric option, we continue to guide schools and commercial fleets towards the best options to fit their operational needs while reducing their carbon footprints.”

In addition to the Ford F59 chassis, the Motiv all-electric powertrain has upfit packages available for the Ford E450 and Crane Carrier COE2 Class 8 chassis. The powertrain is installed to OEM standards at the time of the vehicle’s manufacture, similar to a natural gas or propane upfit.

The Motiv all-electric powertrain has been used in school buses, shuttle buses, delivery trucks, maintenance trucks, and North America’s only all-electric refuse truck deployed by the City of Chicago, the company claims.

Asked if Motiv develops electric powertrains for off-highway vehicles, Castelaz replied, “There are presently no Motiv-powered off-highway vehicles, nor any immediate plans for any such vehicle. However, Motiv would welcome discussions with fleets and vehicle builders who are actively seeking an electric power option for a particular off-highway application.”

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