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All-Electric Transit Buses In Chicago

New Flyer's Xcelsior model transit bus
All-electric transit buses will soon be cruising the streets of Chicago.

The board of directors of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has approved the purchase of two all-electric battery heavy-duty transit buses from New Flyer Industries, the leading manufacturer of heavy-duty transit buses in Canada and the United States. The total purchase price of the electric vehicles is approximately US$2.2 million and was funded with the assistance of the United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration through the Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) program and Clean Fuels Grant program.

“These will be the first battery-electric buses in CTA’s fleet and our first order after we unveiled our fully functional prototype just two weeks ago,” said New Flyer President and Chief Executive Officer, Paul Soubry. “We’re very excited to partner with CTA on this project and fortunate to have these buses operated by a progressive organization such as CTA to validate this clean propulsion approach.”

The battery-electric propulsion system builds on New Flyer’s successful advanced, light weight Xcelsior model 40-foot transit bus. CTA’s battery-electric bus will feature the latest in electric traction drives and components supplied by Siemens, including a high efficiency permanent magnet traction motor, inverters, voltage protection modules, junction boxes, and application software.

The CTA will begin a pilot program with the buses, which are expected to be delivered in 2013, to understand how the bus will operate, not only on regular routes, but in the tough climate conditions of Chicago. These buses are zero-emission vehicles that utilize the city’s power grid to charge the batteries. Since pure electric heating in the cold Chicago winters would dramatically reduce the buses’ range, a supplementary bio-diesel heater will be installed in the buses to keep the passengers comfortable, while preserving range. Chris Stoddart, New Flyer’s Vice President, Engineering Services explained, “We will be monitoring these buses very closely in partnership with CTA and using the data to enhance and refine future designs.”

This announcement builds on the recent news of the official unveiling of New Flyer’s battery-electric bus on June 1, 2012, though a partnership with the Manitoba Government, Mitsubishi, Manitoba Hydro, and Red River College.

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