The Electric School Bus Could Be a “Billion-Dollar Business”
It might not be Ms. Frizzle’s magic school bus, but an electric school bus still sounds pretty awesome—for many reasons. As it turns out, since the first national school bus standards were established back in 1939, the big, yellow school bus hasn’t changed all that much, in form or function. Now, 75 years down the road, American officials might be considering some alterations.
The electric school bus project will launch next year in three California school districts, in what is very much an experimental stage. Funded by a grant from Clinton Global Initiative, the project aims to create a zero-emissions future for the transport of our children, a future that is also heavy in profits for the schools (or, at least, someone, somewhere).
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The idea is pretty simple. Buses have the same boring routes every day, and they are out of use nearly 80% of the day, just sitting and waiting. The thought is that these buses could be retrofitted with batteries (eliminating their reliance on diesel fuel), and once their rounds are complete, they could be used to make additional money. The drivers simply charge the buses during off-peak hours and sell the electricity back to power companies at substantially higher prices during the peak hours. (Why the power companies would buy this from them isn’t exactly clear, but we’re not the geniuses who invented this scheme.) Furthermore, an electric school bus would come in handy during emergencies, when it could be used as a “rolling generator.”
The first of six of the trial buses has already been retrofitted. The other five will undergo retrofitting next month, and two more buses may later be added in Massachusetts. The cost of retrofitting these buses will come out to roughly $5 to $7 million. That may sound steep, but projects of this nature are much more expensive during testing, when things aren’t being done on a mass level. Prices would be expected to go down. Plus, routine maintenance like oil changes would be eliminated, as would the use of pricey diesel gasoline. Add to that the estimated profit of the sales of electric power, and the price is much manageable. On top of that, it’s possible that other investors could pay for the battery retrofitting, though it’s reasonable to assume they would then expect some or all of the profits generated.
So how profitable is the electric school bus project expected to be? Currently, there are 473,000 school buses in the United States, 85% of which run on diesel power. If just a small amount of those—for our purposes, 60,000—were retrofitted with batteries, the estimated revenue is a billion bucks.
And the other benefit? Our children will not be exposed to diesel fumes that cause sickness and even cancer.
But what about range anxiety, you ask? Isn’t that the problem with electric vehicles? Not so much with buses that have set routes every day and time in between to recharge. No bus would be scheduled to travel anywhere close to its total range, meaning there is no risk of it becoming stranded.
So, to recap, the pros: reduced emissions, rolling generator, and a billion dollar profit. And the cons? While there are likely initial reservations, we won’t know any real cons or pain points of this project until testing begins. Testing is going to last a few years, and, hopefully, at the time, we will realize just how beneficial and changing this project could be.
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News Source: AOL Autos