ABC Companies completes Zero Emissions Cross Country Tour

Aug. 14, 2023
In order for ABC Companies to test out the capabilities of the Van Hool double-deck EV coach, the battery-electric coach drove 2,800 miles on a cross-country tour from ABC’s Newark, Calif., facility to ABC headquarters in Wintergarden, Fla.

ABC Companies has completed Phase II of its Zero Emissions Cross Country Tour, “Charge On America."

Piloted by James Wang of Peoria Charter, the “Charge On America” tour departed from ABC’s Newark, Calif., facility on July 26 covering more than 2,800 miles and arriving at ABC headquarters in Wintergarden, Fla., on Aug. 7. Wang was joined by co-driver Dennis Utley and four other family members and experienced first-hand the unique benefits and challenges of battery-electric travel.

Despite grueling weather conditions, including triple-digit temps and moreover, interoperability, availability and capacity issues within the public infrastructure grid, the Van Hool TDX25E 45-foot double deck coach posted impressive stats throughout the journey. The vehicle met or exceeded all parameters along the route, including projected mileage of 285 miles per full charge, based on 2.14 kWh per mile. Thirty-four charging sessions were recorded for a total of 69 charging hours. The trip consumed 6,419 kW and reduced CO2 emissions by 9,842.7 lbs. versus a comparable clean diesel motorcoach travelling the same route.

“The Van Hool double-deck electric vehicle (EV) coach performed beautifully throughout the entire trip, offering a smooth, quiet, comfortable and spacious ride for my fellow driver and both of our families," Wang said. "Our biggest hurdle was finding dependable charging for a vehicle of this size, as these coaches are typically used for regional service. This cross-country challenge underscored the need for a more reliable, robust and strategically available public charging system that can accommodate medium and heavy commercial equipment like the Van Hool TDX25E."

It was also noted most charging depots along the route are simply not designed for larger vehicles, creating access and maneuverability issues and wait times for other vehicles.

“Even an electric pick-up pulling a trailer would be hard pressed to use these charging depots," Wang said. “In many instances, the chargers were not operational, and this was reinforced by countless encounters of passenger cars experiencing the same issues as the motorcoach. The lack of reliability meant we would rarely go below 50 percent charge for fear we would arrive at a charging station that was inoperable and need to travel further.”

Relying solely on the public grid for charging needs, the ABC Companies “Charge On America” tour experienced innumerable challenges at stops along the route. While technically advanced high-capacity EVs like the Van Hool 45’ double-deck motorcoach have enormous potential to reduce carbon emissions, it is difficult to envision broad EV adoption for operators who need to travel longer distances utilizing the public charging ecosystem.

“Our vehicle technology is in place for EV adoption," said Thom Peebles, vice president marketing at ABC Companies. “However, our road tests are proving again and again the disparity between EV equipment readiness and a consistent, reliable charging experience using the existing grid."

As ABC set out to demonstrate on this cross-country challenge, there is much room for improvement. With insights and data compiled from the tour, ABC is focused on increasing awareness about the growing need for future public investment in EV infrastructure for medium and heavy-duty equipment. ABC continues to see strong demand in EV sales, as it also continues to offer clean diesel for operators needing flexibility to travel outside routine routes and to cover long distances over the road.