MTRWestern and ABC Travel 1700 miles in Van Hool CX45E

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ABC Companies 100% Battery – Electric Van Hool CX45E raises the bar for industry standard range and passenger experience in MTRWestern pilot route while putting public charging grid to the test

Winter Garden, FL – February 2022, ABC Companies, a leading provider of motorcoach, transit and specialty passenger transport vehicles in the USA and Canada, has recently completed an unprecedented long-distance road trip with customer, MTRWestern a leading charter bus, and shuttle transport company serving the Pacific Northwest. ABC Companies provided a new 100% battery-electric Van Hool CX45E motorcoach – to facilitate the pilot program road test. This demonstration unit is the same make and model ABC began delivering to customers in early 2021 and is used for ongoing data collection and performance benchmarking with customer specific applications.

The demonstration covered nearly 1,700 miles round trip. Starting in Newark, CA to the destination in Seattle, WA and then returning to Newark, CA. During several legs of the journey, various MTRWestern passenger groups experienced a unique trip aboard the 100% battery-electric Van Hool CX45E, traveling to destinations throughout northern California and the Pacific Northwest. Given the extended distance of this demonstration, existing publicly available charging stations were used along the route. The motorcoach averaged 280 miles of total projected range between charges over the course of the trip, with some legs projecting well in excess of 300 miles. These ranges while in commercial operation, are continuing to raise the bar for EV commercial passenger vehicles, and reflect what is available now through ABC Companies.  This demonstration was also designed to test the viability of charging stations along a typical route.  The data and learning focused on equipment performance and commercial grid access. Charging stations were available at regular intervals with plenty of range to spare, although several locations were not designed to readily accommodate larger passenger vehicles. While the chargers were fully capable of recharging the Van Hool CX45E, it is clear the physical layouts of many stations were not prepared for the pace at which ABC is deploying these unique vehicles into the market.  Charging times were shorter than projected, averaging 2.5 to 3 hours, as the vehicle never used more than 65% of the available battery on each leg of the trip, due to the energy density of the standard Proterra Powered battery packs.

With this leap forward in EV passenger range Roman Cornell, ABC President/Chief Commercial Officer was asked if there were any plans to formally set or announce EV distance records, “Between the almost 1700 miles of total round-trip distance covered, and with some legs of the trip projecting over 300 miles between charges, we were asked multiple times if we should apply for a “world record”. The reality is, we continue to beat our own records as we transport the CX45E and the upcoming Van Hool TDX25E double deckacross country utilizing the existing publicly available grid. Our customers who have the CX45E in their fleets also continue to see increases in range as their drivers improve their ability to manage energy usage. We utilize real time telematics measuring everything from energy consumption, charge rates, vehicle performance and more, so we are able to work with our customers and continually improve energy consumption and therefore range. Our continued success with the Proterra Powered electric drivetrain just keeps pushing the current boundaries for zero emissions motorcoach travel, making claims or records, somewhat irrelevant. These coaches perform as stated, period.”  

Specifically designed for large group transport and travel, the Van Hool CX45E is ABC’s battery electric version of its flagship premium passenger CX45 clean diesel model. Starting with the highly efficient and proven Van Hool CX45 design, the development of an electric version brings a proven package for customers who have begun reducing their fleet carbon emissions. Onboard premium passenger and driver amenities offer enhanced drivability, passenger comfort and performance – all integrated in a zero emissions platform, designed for environmental sustainability.

Road Test Conditions, Parameters & Results

Traveling at an average speed of 54 mph, through challenging terrain including elevations of 5,600+ feet through the picturesque Cascade-Siskiyou National Forest and with an average temperature of 55 degrees, ABC telematics continually capture real time data to measure operator and equipment performance during operation.  Key performance indicators including total kWh consumption, charge rates, kWh regeneration and more, are analyzed against initial projections and benchmarked with thousands of miles of data from other CX45Es already in operation.  This demonstration with MTRWestern met and exceeded expectations providing more quantifiable data for customer specific applications, allowing operators to make informed decisions and optimize operations.  Moreover, the coach’s low-center of gravity, quiet, almost noise-free ride, delivers a premium driver and rider experience, at lower operating costs and zero emissions. Even on steep grades, the CX45E easily glided with moving traffic and utilized regenerative braking during extended downhill braking situations, generating substantial energy that went back into the battery packs further increasing efficiency and range.  

Performance Highlights:

  • Round trip averaged an industry leading 280 miles of projected range per charge while in commercial operation
  • Total energy used 3,400 kwh vs 262 gallons of equivalent diesel fuel
  • Significant energy cost savings depending on electric rates at time and location of charge
  • 2.3 Metric Tons of C02 emissions avoided during demonstration

“We are thrilled to be among the first operators in the U.S. 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”, continued Paulson. “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. They also reported relative ease-of-use at all charging points”. Charging on the grid was easily managed thanks to the 280+ mile range of the CX45E. The CX45E uses a standardized J1772-CCS Type 1 Charger that allowed for maximum flexibility for charging stops over the two-day period.  Charging site sizes and layouts generally do not support a commercial vehicle of this size, highlighting the need for future looking charging infrastructure providers to incorporate larger parking spots with wide turning radius or pull through access. As future charging facilities are designed, they should take notice of the advancements in this quickly growing industry as ABC Companies is already transporting these vehicles on the public grid. 

“The CX45E’s performance over the trip was truly impressive”, said Paulson, “This is a great success that demonstrates the power and reliability of electric transport using the charging eco-system that exists today. ABC’s contribution made this unprecedented journey possible, and we are proud to demonstrate our commitment to pursuing carbon neutral solutions to the industry and our customer base”.

“As the grid infrastructure continues to expand, we’re excited to continue pioneering the future of electric passenger transport for the largest to the smallest groups as fleets require”, said Roman Cornell, ABC President/Chief Commercial Officer. “With so many opportunities, from micro-transport to mobility-as-a-service, contract operations, employee shuttle service, large group tours, charters and more, ABC’s EV strategy is focused on helping customers of all fleet sizes leverage the competitive advantages of zero emissions passenger vehicles.  From the operational cost savings, to new revenue opportunities, ABC is bringing solutions to customers who want to improve their businesses, while improving the communities where they are based.  It is an exciting time, and ABC Companies is proud to be leading this revolution within our industry”. To view a video highlight of the Van Hool CX45E California to Washington trip, please visit the ABC Companies YouTube channel

ABC EV Division Helps Operators “Plug Into Savings”.

The Van Hool CX45E is offered through ABC’s SVT (Specialty Vehicles & Technologies) division. The SVT division is focused on discovering and bringing innovative solutions and strategies to market that offer transformative mobility options to ABC customers. Focusing on seamlessly onboarding cutting edge products and technologies to ensure smooth operations from day one, the SVT team is rapidly emerging as the leading provider committed to simplifying EV fleet integration for private and public operations. As ABC actively onboards new clients, a focus on education, training, equipment operation and infrastructure guidance are featured components of the company’s proprietary “Plug into Savings” program, which was launched in 2020.

“Working and testing with forward thinking companies like MTRWestern, allows ABC to continue refining our industry exclusive “Plug into Savings” electric vehicle onboarding program. Between the training, real time monitoring, charger interoperability, energy use strategies and more, the program takes the complexity away from the customer, so they can focus on the immediate benefits of zero emission vehicles in their fleets”, said Thom Peebles, Vice President, ABC Companies.

ABC Companies is a leading provider to the transportation industry with diverse product and service offerings that cover a full spectrum of operational needs including new and pre-owned full-size highway coach equipment along with transit specialty vehicles including battery electric vehicles. ABC supports customers with a comprehensive after sale service network for service and repairs, collision services, extensive OEM and quality aftermarket parts needs for transit, motorcoach, and heavy-duty equipment from ten strategically placed locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. Additionally, private, and municipal financing and leasing options are available through the company’s financial services group – one of the largest financial service providers within the industry. For more information, contact ABC Companies at 800-222-2875 or visit the company web site at

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