UQM Motors and Controllers to Extend Life of CNG Hybrids,
Which Are Soon to Be Replaced by DesignLine Diesel Hybrids
Colorado’s UQM Technologies reports an order from the Denver Regional Transportation District for PowerPhase Select brand electric generators and motor controllers to “refresh” the agency’s CNG-fueled, series hybrid electric MallRide buses. updated April 11
RTD is meanwhile going ahead with a plan to replace the vehicles with new hybrids from DesignLine, powered by diesel-fueled Capstone turbines (F&F, December 10).
“The original units being refurbished far exceeded their expected life and this program will allow additional running time for the fleet,” says a UQM release. The overall mileage for the MallRide fleet is greater than 5 million miles.
“We were running out of components to keep the buses running,” says RTD maintenance supervisor Dean Shaklee. “They’re hitting the end of their life,” he told F&F – but he doesn’t expect RTD to get all of its new 45-footers from DesignLine until 2014.
CNG Infrastructure Said Too Costly
The existing 45-foot vehicles travel a slow, flat route and, despite being able to carry 116 passengers, are powered by 70-horsepower, 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, Ford engines running at a constant 2200 rpm.
“As part of the refresh, each UQM component in the hybrid bus systems will be thoroughly inspected and worn parts replaced, returning the units to near-new condition,” says UQM (NYSE:UQM). “Each refurbished unit will then be run through a full set of final testing to ensure that they are ready for many more miles of trouble-free operation. All 30 shuttle buses are expected to be refreshed over the next two years.”
Looking ahead to Denver RTD’s new MallRide buses, Capstone Turbine (NASDAQ:CPST) said Monday that it has an order for 34 of its liquid-fueled C30s microturbines for the DesignLine Eco Saver IV range-extended electric vehicles.
ZF Hub Axle Motors
They will generate electricity for the buses’ lithium ion batteries, which employ Gaia nickel cobalt alumina technology from LTC – Lithium Technology Corp.
The new DesignLine buses will have hub axle motors from Germany’s ZF Friedrichshafen.
“It burns very clean,” Shaklee says of his agency’s decision to go with diesel – a move that effectively spells the end for the world’s standout working fleet of CNG hybrids. “The CNG station is getting old,” he adds, noting that renovation would be costly.
‘A Wily Bus Industry Veteran’
The agency has tested compressed natural gas buses on regular routes too. “We’ve been very pleased with their performance,” Shaklee says. “It all comes down to infrastructure costs.” RTD has issued a solicitation for as many as 108 sixty-foot articulated buses and is preparing one for as many as 350 forty-foot buses. CNG, hybrids and straight diesel will be evaluated for all, he told F&F.
Capstone, meanwhile, also said this week that it has executed a new five-year agreement with DesignLine, “marking a renewed commitment to the long-standing relationship.”
“We have seen a measurable improvement in DesignLine operations since Joe Smith was named president and CEO in 2012,” Capstone president and CEO Darren Jamison said in the company’s Monday announcement.
“Joe is a wily bus industry veteran,” Jamison said, noting that the DesignLine boss is a former president of the New York MTA.
Contact information is only available to premium subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription.
Source: UQM and Capstone releases with Fleets & Fuels follow-up