While today, diesel engines predominate in each segment of the bus market, significant forces a pressuring widespread adoption of all-electric and hybrid “clean” powertrains. A recent report by IDTechEx predicts “the market for medium and large hybrid and pure electric buses will be over $132 billion in 2026.”
One of the most powerful drivers is the shift in energy reliance from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.
From 2010, when only one state generated 10% of its energy from renewable sources, now 14 states exceed 10% renewables and three (Iowa, South Dakota, and Kansas) are 31%, 25%, and 24% respectively, and California is at more than 10% just from solar. This shift transcends politics and geography. As noted by the Clean Edge research firm, half of the “top 10” states are “red states.”
This shift to renewables also requires complete electrification of public transportation, forcing not only public, but also private, bus buyers and operators to eventually convert existing diesel and natural gas-powered fleets to all-electric. Over time, this means from 40,000 to as many as 60,000 all-electric buses of all types per year – in a market which has yet to reach 100 delivered units total, of all types, over the last five years!
AVM is well-poised to exploit this growth. Its parent company, BCA, and BCA’s team developed a clean-sheet, purpose-built motor coach design for North America, the most challenging bus market segment, which requires a 20-year service life and the most advanced diesel emissions and engine monitoring electronics and systems integration in the world. This expertise, ability, and efforts of it and technology and manufacturing partners over several years, have yielded the proof-of-concept prototype AVM Shuttle being demonstrated.
Why AVM’s All-Electric?
Creating Value With The Right Product In The Right Market
For various regulatory, technical and legal reasons (unique emissions, safety and technical requirements, stifling liability laws, and tough customer expectations), the North American bus market has had little overseas competition. Existing market-dominant entities have little incentive to produce a cost-effective and viable all-electric option until and unless the market forces it upon them.
New market entrants proposing all-electric heavy transit buses have not created much market pressure by pricing their buses at about twice the cost of an available diesel or CNG bus. But buying an unproven (in the U.S. market) bus twice the price of a proven North American model has justifiably had little appeal to savvy US buyers. And these heavy transit alternatives do not use existing charging infrastructures. Instead, each available option relies on unique and expensive systems not interchangeable with each other or any other electric vehicles. This renders these costly charging systems useless for any other purpose, even for electric buses of another manufacturer!
AVM is focused on the mid-size/shuttle, the second-largest segment. The most fragmented, with more than 15 builders/upfitters, this segment is almost exclusively bodies placed upon existing truck chassis: Front-engine gas or diesel engine produced in large numbers. These shuttles range in size from 14 to more than 50 passengers. Uses are short-haul: Airport, hotel, employee, and rental car shuttles, and some “limousine” service. Because costly EPA and U.S. regulatory requirements have kept non-truck engine manufacturers out of this market, the result is a complete absence of true “bus” chassis.
This segment is nearly bereft of all-electric products, and the few that have appeared take a gasoline-powered truck chassis upfitted with a bus body to create a battery all-electric: Removing the gasoline engine and replacing it with an electric motor, and adding batteries and related componentry. But these are all conversions, not purpose-built all-electrics. All use a “ladder/rail” chassis that precludes the “low-floor” a true, purpose-built “bus” design affords.
Eschewing this “Frankenstein” approach, AVM advances its purpose-built EV. AVM’s EV Shuttle offers a true “flat floor” that is only 11” from the ground to the large, flat space between front and rear wheelwells. The true EV design means all accessories, from environmental systems to braking, air, and electrical, were engineered and optimized to perform in an all-electric powertrain.
Leveraging Existing Infrastructure For Future Growth
Another key component of AVM’s attack on this market is its commitment to existing charging infrastructures. Instead of using the China-only “GBT” architecture or unique overhead systems employed by most competitors, AVM’s EV Shuttle can use whatever North American-standard its customer has in place: Nissan Leaf CHAdeMO? No problem. SAE J1772? Sure! Thus, the charging and battery componentry can be based on the customer’s missions and budget.
Several factors underscore the importance of charging ecosystem flexibility and compatibility. First, the future charging ecosystem will be much more densely and broadly populated than today, approaching today’s gasoline stations in breadth and depth. There is very significant, rapid growth in charging stations; Southern California Edison (SCE) has announced Charge Ready pilot program to install 1,500 charging points, valued at $22 million, which is just an introduction to the full-scale project of 30,000 charging points at a total cost of $355 million. SCE will install and maintain the supporting electrical infrastructure at no cost to participants and offer rebates to offset some or all of the cost of the charging stations and their installation. This is only one of numerous such programs, this growth is accelerating, Each new CHAdeMO or CCS charging station is one more potential charging point for AVM’s EV Shuttle.
Second, the underlying CCS (SAE) standard supports charging in increments of 125 kW and a dual-charger would charge the EV Shuttle (optional) high-capacity battery in under 16 minutes.
Third, consumer demand for higher-speed “fast charging” is overwhelming: A recent survey by one of the nation’s leading charge providers, NRG eVgo, found that given the option of both chargers at a single site, drivers preferred DC fast-chargers at a ratio of 12-to-1 over slower, Level 2 charging. This demand, coupled with explosive growth in competitive charging options as charging station owners begin to exploit these revenue centers, will continue to drive fast-charge station growth. And each such station is compatible with the EV Shuttle.
AVM’s exclusive access to its partner’s Lithium Titanate (LTO) battery technology translates into long lived, safer batteries for our customers compared to Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) and related formulations used by our competitors.
LTO’s service life is about 20,000 charge cycles or 40 times more than LFP’s 500. That means while the typical cutaway will need one or more battery changes over its comparably short service life (the AVM Shuttle is of monocoque construction) the batteries in the AVM Shuttle will likely outlast two cutaway bodies! One workaround is to offer a multiyear battery warranty and embed several battery changes in the vehicle cost. Of course the buyer bears this cost whether they are aware of it or not.
LTO inherent safety factor is baked in too. A penetrated LTO cell will not overheat and short of catastrophic damage will continue to function. An LFP cell, however, will stop working, heat up and breach, sometimes with explosive force.
Using “Baked-In” Strategic Advantages
In summary, AVM builds a proprietary American product using U.S. design and components, but offering a most competitive pricing by assembling in China. AVM leverages its parent’s proven expertise in advanced manufacturing at one of the most advanced bus factories in the world, and relationships years in the making with not only it shareholder, one of the world’s leading bus manufacturers, but also component manufacturers, customers and regulators. Its parent, BCA, has proven that the model of manufacturing an American product based on U.S. intellectual property combined with Chinese manufacturing delivers value. AVM’s EV Shuttle shares this premise. No American builder can leverage the scale of manufacturing available in China, while Chinese manufacturers offer Chinese products unsuited for North American market demands.
In summation, AVM, its parents, its technology partners, and it customers have devoted years of research, development, product improvement and testing to create a world-class motor-coach shuttle of superior design and quality, at a very compelling price. AVM’s team has already proven that its unique model – American design and components, assembled and built in China using teams trained in American welding, production and quality control techniques – results in a game-changing product well-received by a highly competitive industry.