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EV coach drives from California to Seattle and back using public chargers

The Van Hool CX45E that completed the 1,700-mile round trip.
Enlarge / The Van Hool CX45E that completed the 1,700-mile round trip.

ABC Companies

An electric coach just completed a 1,700-mile (2,743-km) trip from Newark, California, to Seattle and back. The journey was a demonstration of battery-electric transport and was organized by the coach operator MTRWestern and ABC Companies, the US importer for Van Hool coaches.

What makes this trip noteworthy—some might even say amazing—is that it relied on public fast chargers. The coach averaged 280 miles (450 km) between charging stops, with some stretches of over 300 miles (482 km).

The coach in question is a Van Hool CX45E and uses a Proterra battery pack similar to the one that powered a Proterra bus that completed a 1,101-mile (1,772-km) journey on a single charge in 2017. Van Hool picked Proterra as its battery supplier later that year.

“We are thrilled to be among the first operators in the US to offer true zero-emission green travel to our customers,” said Todd Paulson, director of operations at MTRWestern. “Our groups were extremely excited to experience EV travel firsthand, and their feedback provides critical insight as we test EV integration within our fleet. Both passengers and drivers were impressed by the incredibly quiet ride, and our drivers were especially pleased with the smooth coach handling and power, particularly during elevation gains.”

Paulson also said that the drivers reported “relative ease of use” at all charging points, despite the fact that most EV fast-charging locations are designed with light passenger vehicles in mind, not a 45-foot (13.9-m) passenger coach. Charging times were shorter than expected, averaging between two and a half to three hours per stop, and according to ABC, no leg of the trip used more than 65 percent of the coach’s state of charge.

The coach averaged 55 mph (88.5 km/h) on its trip and used 3.4 MWh of electricity. Half a mile per kWh sounds like pretty bad efficiency if you’re used to thinking about (comparatively) tiny passenger EVs, but with 660 kWh onboard, the CX45E has more than enough lithium to stave off range anxiety. A comparable trip by diesel coach would consume 262 gallons of the fuel, according to ABC.

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