Posted on 06/01/2012, 11:41 am, by mySteinbach

A new, all-electric, battery powered transit bus being developed in Manitoba is the future of public transport, said Premier Greg Selinger, as he unveiled the prototype with representatives from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), New Flyer, Manitoba Hydro and Red River College (RRC).

“Since we announced the development of the electric bus last year, it has been the intention of the five partners involved in this project to have a prototype up and running for testing within a year,” said Selinger. “We have reached that goal and now we continue to aggressively push the development of a made-in-Manitoba solution for providing mass transit vehicles powered by clean energy.”

“It is a great honour for us to participate in this event with you and I would like to express my sincere appreciation to all the members involved in this project,” said Takaya Watanabe, general manager of MHI. “This is an important step to realizing a low-carbon society and for popularizing a Manitoba made electric bus using MHI’s lithium-ion rechargeable batteries in North American markets.”

“New Flyer is very excited to be part of a true partnership to introduce the technology of tomorrow right here in our own backyard,” said Chris Stoddart, vice-president, engineering, New Flyer. “It’s meaningful that this propulsion offering has been deployed on our market-leading, next-generation Xcelsior bus by engineers, technologists and technicians educated locally at Red River College and the University of Manitoba. Using this technology, New Flyer will be well positioned to drive the North American transit industry to a greener future!”

“As a major supplier and distributor of clean, renewable hydroelectricity, Manitoba Hydro has a keen interest in electric vehicles and the impact that the electrification of mass transit will have on our customers’ energy needs,” said Scott Thomson, president and CEO, Manitoba Hydro. “The Manitoba all-electric bus initiative will expand the capabilities of rapid charging systems, supporting the development of a made-in-Manitoba solution that provides the enhanced energy efficiency of electric transportation and compatibility with North American utility distribution systems commonly while eliminating the need for development of costly trolley or streetcar infrastructure.”

“Red River College is proud to support the electric bus initiative through the work being done at our Electric Vehicle Technology and Education Centre,” said Stephanie Forsyth, president, RRC. “From developing the charging infrastructure to assembling the batteries and analyzing performance data, the electric bus is an exciting project for our faculty and students to be involved with and it builds on our reputation as a centre of excellence for applied research in electric vehicles.”

The $3-million electric bus project costs are split equally between the Government of Manitoba, Manitoba Hydro and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

The test bus is a 40-foot Xcelsior from New Flyer, which describes it as the most advanced bus platform available today. The bus is equipped with electric drive and was redesigned to carry advanced lithium-ion batteries from MHI. These batteries will be charged from the electrical grid.

Further demonstration and testing of the bus is scheduled to occur during the next two years, starting with dry-run operational testing by project personnel and then moving to operation under highly selected route conditions, the premier said.

The electric bus project is the first major activity undertaken under the memorandum of understanding on renewable energy development between Manitoba and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, signed in 2010. The agreement created the structure for a series of potential collaborative projects between Manitoba and MHI in eight areas:  electrification of transportation and recharging infrastructure projects, battery-storage technologies,  heat-pump technologies, advanced biofuels technologies, wind-energy technologies, energy-efficiency technologies and systems, solar technologies and silicon processing, and integrated energy production, storage and utilization demonstrations.

The electric bus project is one of a number of actions the province is taking in order to realize the benefits of electric vehicles for Manitoba, said Selinger. Other initiatives include the Electric Vehicle Technology and Education Centre at Red River College and plug-in partnerships with electric vehicle manufacturers.