Aussies Introduce 1000 Kilometer Electric Bus


Brighsun electric bus

Australian company Brighsun, headquartered in Melbourne, has developed an electric bus with a certified range of 1,004 kilometers — enough to make the trip from Melbourne to Sydney without stopping to recharge and with more than 100 kilometers of range left over.

The buses run on a high performance lithium-ion battery combined with proprietary eMotor, battery management and a regenerative breaking system. Brighsun CEO Allen Saylav, also a director of the Society of Automotive Engineers Australia told One Step Off The Grid the technology behind the bus, which has been in development for four years, evolved from a desire to deliver clean, sustainable public transport options.

“We believe this technology could change the face of public transport around the world and with the use of the eVehicle propulsion system which creates long lasting life in vehicles,” Saylav said. “New energy is key to Australia’s auto industry revitalisation and we believe the eBus is the first step in the right direction for this to happen.” He added, “We chose the heavy commercial passenger vehicle to showcase how high performance could be achieved in larger transportation transportation options,” as well as in passenger cars.

Brighsun has not released any technical details about its battery or electric motor. The company indicates that it is planning to open facilities across Australia to manufacture its products, which include shorter range models for intracity use.

Representatives from bus manufacturers around the world were on hand for the introduction, including BYD, which recently won a competition sponsored by the State of Washington to produce electric buses for operations in the Pacific northwest. Another American company developing electric  buses for the US market is Proterra, which features lightweight carbon fiber construction to help extend the range of its products.

Converting the world’s heavy vehicles like buses and cargo trucks to electric power would do more to reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere than raising the average fuel economy for passenger cars to over 100 mpg, especially since most of them are currently diesel powered.


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  • BlackTalon53 .

    1000km is a pretty amazing range.

  • Greg

    Charging time?

    • Steve Hanley

      We have no information on that subject, Greg. But as roseland67 suggests, it is probably several hours, at a minimum. If we get more news on this, we will be sure to pass it along.

      • Greg

        Thanks. Do you happen to have any cost comparisons versus regular buses and estimated payback time?

        • Steve Hanley

          Once again, details are sketchy, Greg. But I understand that Brighsun, the manufacturer, is planning a full range of electric vehicles, including trucks, ships and automobiles. We will be on the lookout for more information.

          • Greg

            Will look forward to more details as they become available. Exciting to see this breakthrough, because if costs are reasonable then literally every bus could become electric in the near future.

  • roseland67

    At a bus maintenance yard, where buses park after hours, they could use medium voltage, (15kv etc), to charge, probably even high voltage rectified dc, should not be a problem, I suspect hours to charge.

  • Marion Meads

    With a large roof, it would have been ideal for solar PV installed on its roof. It keeps the buses cool too! It takes time to travel the 1,000 km, so you will have plenty of time to absorb sunlight during the day time travels. At average of 100 km/hr, that would be 10 hrs of sunshine exposure during the summer time.

    A large bus with 8.5′ wide by 55′ long would have 43.4 sq m flat roof, and at 19% efficiency and 10% losses from panels to battery storage, and equivalent of 5.5 full sunshine hours, it should be able to generate 40.85 kWh of electricity per day!

    • Steve Hanley

      Thanks for that input, Marion and for doing all those calculations. Math makes my head hurt! ; – )

      Btw, Australia has LOTS of sunshine!

    • super390

      Given the unwillingness of some countries to invest in passenger rail, this might have to be the compromise solution. Operating costs for a bus running during the daytime on sub-500 mile trips might be low enough to replace the always-shaky US airlines on short routes. Right now those airlines create special commuter subsidiaries so they can escape their union contracts and pay pilots as little as $30,000 a year to operate old jets or newer turboprops from Brazil. I’d rather trust a bus driver making $30,000 than a pilot. If you can reduce the time to get to and from a bus station, it wipes out the advantage of a train or airliner’s speed on a short route.

      • Steve Hanley

        All good points. My last bus journey to NYC was actually quite pleasant, and when it was over, i was in in downtown Manhattan, not stuck some $50 taxi ride away.

        And i didn’t even have to take my shoes off! : – )

        • super390

          Using this equation:

          we can get a sense of the energy costs of a future bus along the lines of what Marion is talking about. But it would need to be much more aerodynamic than the Brighsun bus, which I think is really an EV conversion. Let’s say it’s a teardrop-shaped, very low freeway bus, only 6.25 feet tall, with a cD like the Mercedes Boxfish concept at 0.19. And a composite structure that weighs only 15,000 lbs. So the frontal area is 53 sq ft. We plug in 5% losses each for the motor and drivetrain. That yields 25.4 kw at 60 mph. About 420 watt/hours a mile. It’s amazing what aerodynamics can do. So Marion’s 41 kwh of solar power gets you nearly 100 miles. Which is small compared to total daily highway mileage, but it’s additional range and air conditioning.

          If the bus operator has a deal for electricity at 10 cents/kwh, then its energy cost is about 4.2 cents a mile without any solar boost. That’s a big drop in operating costs over diesel, I think. It’s far less than the cost of the driver.

          • super390

            Also, I expect anyone doing this would use battery pack swapping, since you have stations for that.

    • zbret .

      I believe you made a small error in your calculations – the conditions you specify assume the panels tilted toward the sun. Lying flat you lose roughly 50% of the total kWh produced. I came up with these figures:

      The approx roof dimensions are 12×2.5m or 30 sq m. Assuming the panels are NOT tilted toward the sun (flat on the roof), you lose roughly half of the output. A panel generates about 1 kWh/m^2 daily when mounted correctly, so this would be an additional 15 kWh of charge daily. With an expected 1000 kWh of batteries on board, you add 1.5% to the total charge in a day. The cost of that would be roughly another $30k+ and would require panels designed for the purpose (ie built-in panels, similar to roofing, not a strapping on of home panels like a science project). Keep in mind it also adds to the weight, which I ignored.

  • rogerbedell

    The lowest electric bus kwh/km I’ve seen is 0.75 kWh/km, with most around 1 kWh/km. A/C and heating can use almost the same amount as the traction power, so 1000km is best case, with a tail wind, and no A/C. More like 500km on a hot day, full load, and a head wind.

    So, they must have at least 750kWh of high energy batteries on board. Charging will take 7 hours at 100kW or 3.5 hours at 200kW. Doable, but that’s a lot of batteries and charging power. But I can’t say anything, our charging stations with the Hybricon buses in Sweden charge at 650kW, and Proterra at up to 500kW.

    Next stop, electric road trains?

  • Carl Raymond S

    I’m amazed this story isn’t getting more attention. News crews should be beating on Brighson’s door demanding to know the battery specifications and the test conditions. What’s the mass of the bus? Did it drive at the speed limit, or below (which is cheating, really)? Is there room for luggage underneath, or has that space been completely filled with batteries?

    This isn’t a story about buses, it’s a story about cost of transportation. If the claims hold up, were looking at (sorry – I know the word is overused) disruption. Let’s take the specific example of trucks…

    I’ve been playing around with cost calculators and it appears that one third of the cost of trucking is diesel. Electric driving will cut this to 15-30% – perhaps even less if they invest in their own solar/wind farms somewhere along the main routes. Another big cost is maintenance – also slashed by electric drive.

    By the time the industry is reeling from this revolution, autonomous driving will be ready. So now subtract the cost of the driver. (Please don’t cry ‘jobs!’ – jobs are created at both ends of the route – because as costs go down, the qty of goods transported goes up).

    If you need more future-shock, also factor in Google’s project wing, allowing drone delivery of suitable items to your backyard.

    So over the course of the next decade, expect transport costs to halve, then halve again. Boom times ahead! (for all except the buggy whip, oil and coal industries).