Van Hool to build first electric coach?
Belgian coachbuilder partners American battery firm Proterra to produce an intercity vehicle with a claimed 180-mile range
Van Hool is set to be the first manufacturer to introduce an electric coach but it will launch on the North American market in 2019.
Van Hool and Proterra, an American battery technology company, are expecting the venture to create a 100% electric-powered coach with 300km range and says it will be primarily used for travel between home and work for groups of employees or for intercity travel.
The coach will be designed on Van Hool’s 13.8-metre, tri-axle CX45 platform and developed at the Belgian parent company in Koningshooikt, with the first prototypes built there as well. The CX45 is currently being built in Skopje, Macedonia, and consequently the production run of the CX45E will take place there. Diesel-powered versions of both coaches are sold in the USA currently.
The CX45E will have an emphasis on comfort for the traveller and operational safety for the operator. It will be followed later by the shorter, 10.6-metre CX35E coach model. The new CX45E and CX35E will both share the Proterra E2 battery technology. Over the past 30 years, ABC Companies has helped Van Hool to establish distribution, sales, parts and service networks over the entire North American territory and ABC Companies will also be responsible for the market introduction of the CXE series.
CEO of Van Hool, Filip Van Hool, said: “This announcement is the icing on the cake as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the cooperation between Van Hool and its exclusive partner ABC Bus Companies on the North American market. After all these years of hard work to meet our customers’ high expectations, we, together, have succeeded in putting Van Hool on the map in the United States.
“Today over 10,000 Van Hool coaches and buses are operating on North-American roads, including a number of large Silicon Valley companies that organise shuttle services for their employees as well as many other customers. After receiving requests from a number of customers for a fully electric-powered coach, we at Van Hool sought a solution. Van Hool is truly excited and proud to partner up with Proterra, a pioneering company in the development and production of battery technology.
“The diesel CX45 coach has a proven track record, and in the meantime has become a benchmark coach on the American market. The integration of Proterra´s battery technology into the CX will take this coach to the next level. It’s a clear statement as to Van Hool´s long-term commitment to the North American coach market, while also showing how quickly we can respond to the needs of our customers.”
CEO of Proterra, Ryan Popple, said: “Entering the motor coach market and electrifying more fleets alongside Van Hool, a proven market leader, is a key milestone for Proterra and for the heavy-duty electric transportation industry. Having proven our EV technology in transit, we’re pleased to expand our reach and help other heavy-duty commercial vehicle applications go electric.”